Goal: Run a Half Marathon. Status: Complete
Sunday morning I shut my alarm off at 4:30, climbed out of bed, got dressed, braided my hair, grabbed a yogurt and the bag of stuff I’d packed up for my adventures and headed to Boston for the Run to Remember. I was nervous and jittery and excited and a bunch of other emotions all rolled into one.
I was glad I left my house early; it took a bit to find a parking spot. I met two of my colleagues for 6:30 and we found a spot in the sun to stretch. I was second guessing my running gear choice and wishing I’d worn a jacket and hoped I’d warm up quickly. As the time approached 7:00, we wished each other luck and headed toward our pace groups. Based on my last few training runs, I probably should have been toward the back of the pack, but I moved into the 11:00 group and hoped for the best.
We were the third wave to start. It was about 7:15 when I crossed the start line.
A mile in I heard voices reverberating off the buildings. I smiled and thought “the neighbors must love this.” Then, as I pulled an earbud out, I realized it was a cadence. As I caught up to the sounds, I realized it was the MBTA Transit Police Academy wearing Collier Strong t-shirts. At the words, “How strong? COLLIER STRONG!” I had a moment where I struggled to see thanks to the tears threatening to spill from my eyes. “Great,” I thought,“1.6 miles in and I’m crying. This should be an interesting run.” And I was thankful and inspired and humbled.
Four miles in I needed the porta potty. I don’t know if others feel this way, but the second I realize I need one of those, it becomes my all-consuming focus. I wasn’t going to be able to run my best until I found it. And then I cursed the line and the time I was going to lose waiting and resigned myself to the wait.
And then I was off again. Around mile 5 there were police cruisers…with their lights on. Police officers and state troopers were standing by their cruisers high-fiving us as we passed. I high-fived everyone of them and thanked them for their service. My Grandfather was Boston PD. I think he would have been especially proud to have me running a race honoring the fallen Law Enforcement Officers.
Mile 6.5. My left knee starts to hurt. My brain screams “dammit, I’m only half way there, you can’t hurt!” It had bothered me after my 7 mile run and toward the end of my 8 and 9 mile runs, but I had no issues at all when I ran 10, 11, and 12. Why now and why so soon into the race? ARGH!
I was heading toward mile 8 when I saw runners coming at me on the other side of the road and thought I was doing quite well to be ahead of all these people…then I realized I recognized some of them and they were coming back from the second turn-around on Memorial Drive. Darn. I fell that far behind at the porta potty. And my knee hurt.
Mile 9 I text my husband to let him know where I am. Maybe a half mile later I see some spectators on the side of the road taking photos with their phones and it’s a minute before I realize these are MY people; my husband, my two daughters, and my 10K running partner/very good friend. I hand my husband my empty packets of Gu (I just couldn’t bring myself to drop them on the ground), kiss my daughters and my friend joins me for a couple of minutes as I run. My knee doesn’t seem to hurt so much now.
Further on, I heard beeping and my name and my people are frantically waving out the window of the car and cheering as they head to meet me at the finish line. Just a stroke of luck that I was turning the corner at the moment they were turning a corner. Apparently the police directing traffic were amused for a moment and then told them it was time to move on and stop holding up traffic. I blew them kisses and ran on.I get to the next water station and take some water. I am amazed at how my feet are sticking to the pavement as I run through spilled Gatorade.
Mile 12, I stop to walk a bit and try to get my knee to stop being stiff. I text my parents to update them on my whereabouts so they can look for me. I see another runner, clearly hurt, being assisted by two other runners. It’s not the first time during this race that I witness the concern runners have for each other. I come over the bridge on Seaport Boulevard. I can see the finish. I know my pace has been decent and I have now run further than I’ve ever run before. I’m heading downhill. The police are now letting cars through the intersections when it is safe to do so, which gives me a moment of alarm. I’m quite certain the photographer on the other side of this particular intersection took a photo where you can see panic on my face as I think, “DO NOT LET THAT CAR GO, I’M RUNNING DOWNHILL, MY KNEE HURTS, AND I DON’T THINK I CAN STOP!” Yes, in capital letters. Thankfully, the officer stops traffic and I proceed through the intersection without incident. To my left I hear a friend calling my name and cheering me on - I am surprised as I forgot he’d be watching another friend race. On the other side of the road I see a woman on the curb looking sick; she has some friends around her. I want to yell to her "you are so close! Don’t give up!” I hope she is able to finish the race.
I see my parents as I close in on the finish line. Dad is taking pictures and Mom is cheering and I give them a huge smile and wave to them. Only a little further to go.
And then, all at once, I am being handed a medal, stopping the timer on my Garmin, and heading inside to the Expo. I grab some water, gatorade, and a banana. Some woman handed me a bottle of organic something to drink and asked to snap a picture of me holding the drink. I need to see if that picture got posted anywhere…
Just like that, it was done. Four weeks of starts and stops in January and February and 12 weeks of actual training were completed. I am now 35% of the way to my goal to run 625 miles this year and I have officially completed my first half marathon. I have checked one of my goals for the year off my list. The feeling of accomplishment is hard to describe. I’m proud of myself. I’m thankful to my family for their support while I went out on my training runs. I’m thankful to those friends who occasionally joined me on the runs and for the support from those who have run half marathons before and gave me their tidbits of advice.
After meandering through the Seaport World Trade Center and the hotel, I made my way out to the street and found my family and my friend and we hugged and they congratulated me and chatted for a bit and then it was time to watch my son play soccer.
And yes, I want to run another half marathon. Who’s in?