All the training. All the work. The miles of running. It was all leading up to this. My first half-marathon. The future Mrs. Big Boy and I successfully reached our fundraising goals. We trained hard. We LOVED our Team in Training running-mates. It was an awesome experience. But, now it was time. We were in Providence, RI, at the starting line.
I slept for two hours the night before. Nerves, mixed with sickness (a NASTY lingering cold), mixed with a 4:30 AM alarm clock wake up, contributed to this lack of rest. This was not good, and made me even more nervous at the race. I stretched, danced, and just generally tried to stay loose. I believe there is a video floating around somewhere of my crip walk, and if I find it, I’ll share it.
I refused to let any of that negative energy bring me down. THIS IS WHAT I WANTED. We crowded toward the starting line, and in waited for the starting gun. It didn’t go off, so a simple anti-climactic “go” was all that set us on our run. I was running with the misses and another teammate, and we all agreed to try to run the race utilizing negative splits. I carried my phone and used the MapMyRun app to track our pace. We started at a nice slow 10:23 pace, and kept it up for the first seven miles.
Throughout these miles, we talked, laughed, joked, and really enjoyed our time. The sun came out and the weather was perfect. We met some amazing cancer survivors who were RUNNING WITH US, and it was so motivating. Every spectator cheered us on with such enthusiasm. It was AMAZING! I used high-fives for energy. I also used singer honey/ginseng energy GU, and it worked wonders. There were so many runners!!! I think 3,000 registered and ran in this event.
But I knew I could run 7 miles at that pace, no issue. It was the next 6.1 that would prove a challenge, as we tried to improve our pace every mile. When we saw the 7 Mile Marker, we knew it was time. It was time to earn it. All the love and support we’d received. We knew that we had to push. And it was hard.
And we did it! Amanda and I picked up our pace. We kept a close eye on our overall pace, and watched the seconds being shaved off. It was such a rush. Our TnT running coach (and friend!) Laura Ingalls (follow her on twitter, she’s seriously the best) kept joking with us that by running a negative split, we could “steal people’s energy” as we passed them. And while that’s obviously not our intent, nor what happened, it was a really good feeling to have an extra gear to kick into.
Our pace dropped from a 10:23 to a 10:18. And then 10:15. And then 10:10. We just kept running. Our conversation slowed, and the pain increased, but we kept pushing! We knew that Coach Laura would be waiting to pace us at Mile 10, and boy was she a welcome site, especially considering we’d NEVER run more than 10 miles! I quickly applied some biofreeze to my throbbing hip (lingering injury from the 10k!!!) and took some Tylenol, but then it was back to pushing pushing pushing!
It’s important to note that worrying about how far you have left to run is a terrible and dangerous idea. We focused on each mile individually. “Gotta get from 10 to 11″ or “Almost to 12″ were common comments that we made in the late going. Stay in the moment.
We pushed, almost arm in arm, through Mile 12, and thought it would be smooth sailing all the way in. Unfortunately, that was not to be. I started to fall off, mentally, and physically, around 12.5 miles:
I saw my amazing fiancee continuing to push, and excel in her race, and knew that I was holding her back. I begged her to push on, and promised I’d meet her at the finish line with a smile on my face. Bless her heart, she listened to me, and went to run her race. And I gave up. As I watched her sprint away, I lost my will power. I stopped running and started walking. Based upon my own MapMyRun, I had a good enough pace to still beat my 2:15 goal, and based upon my body/mind, I didn’t think I had it in me to run.
After about a minute, I looked up into the sky, and I said a prayer. I asked for help and guidance from the Lord, and from my Uncle, who passed away from cancer just over four years ago. I thought that if he could share just a little bit of the strength that he exhibited throughout his amazing life, I would take it and finish strong. And as I said amen, I felt the power coming back into my legs. I dug my headphones out of my pocket (and picked them up off the ground after dropping them), plugged them into my phone, and dialed up my running playlist. As the beat came to life in my ears, my legs started driving. My mental fatigue dissipated. And I RAN!
I pushed for the last half-mile, and I felt GREAT! I smiled and laughed again. I gave and took high-fives as they came. And when I came around the shoot, i took my headphones out and just absorbed the energy of the crowd. The cheering and motivation was INTENSE. And, as I crossed the finish line, there was my beautiful fiancee, with a smile on her face (and tinfoil wrapped around her body!).
I “failed” on two counts. First, I walked. I should not have done that. Second, I did not crack 2:15. My official time was a 2:16:13.
However, overall the experience was as much of a win as anything I’ve ever done for myself. And I know that this run was not the end, but rather the beginning of a lifelong love affair with running. I don’t think you’ll ever see me on a podium as a winner, but you will see me at events around the country, if not the world. And, in the biggest win, my AMAZING fiancee DID crack 2:15!!! She’s such an inspiration for me and I’m more and more in love with her every day. I can’t wait to run our next race together. I already joked that I wasn’t going to let her win the next one. We’re going to run a full marathon, together, before our wedding. That’s happening. You can write it in pen (or on a blog)!
Quick notes on post-race: When I got home Sunday, I didn’t want to do anything. I was hurting a pretty good amount. However, Monday was pretty much the sorest I’ve ever been. My ankle, hip, and knees ached. My muscles burned. It was ugly. Still worth it. With enough ice, biofreeze, and my new foam roller, I was able to work most of the pain out, and by Tuesday I felt pretty normal. I returned to the gym today to refocus on speed and weight loss for the rest of the month.
Thank you all for everything! You guys have been so helpful, and fun, and inspirational. It’s been awesome, and it’s only going to get better!