After a few months of training and lots (and lots) (and LOTS) of “wait, why are we doing this again?” I did my first half marathon two weeks ago.
Andy, my cousin Dustin, and I were up at the asscrack of dawn that morning to head downtown for the Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Can I sidetrack and brag for a moment? Andy was terrific and beat last year’s time by 13 minutes (despite a repeat of his Achilles issues), and Dustin completed the race after having major back surgery last year and being cleared for exercise just this winter. My family’s pretty awesome.
The two boys left me at the back of the pack and went to find their own corrals. Then I waited and waited some more. I was literally THE back of the pack, in corral Z with the rest of the walkers and slowpokes. Want to know how long it takes to get 30,000 people across a start line? About 32 minutes, which is how long the race had been underway before I officially began it.
And then I walked. And walked. And ran for a bit when I felt like it. And walked some more. And wasted a good twelve minutes or so making a potty stop in a line that I thought would move faster. And enjoyed all the bands and various entertainment along the route. And felt thankful for the water stop volunteer who ran with me for a bit. And did a lap around the racetrack and kissed the famous bricks.
And kept up or improved my pace the whole time. And checked off the miles as they racked up.
I ran most of the last mile knowing I was almost! done! It was such a great “I did it! Go me! I’m so awesome!” feeling to cross the finish line. Of course, you collect your medal, head over to the park, see the other 29,999 people who just did the same thing, and realize you aren’t that special. But you know what? Who cares. That was the furthest I had ever gone. I still was (and am) pretty damn proud of myself.
The whole experience made me go from “this is such a stupid idea why do people do this willingly” to “sure, I’ll sign up again next year.” I can’t rave enough about all the volunteers and the energetic and supportive crowd of racers and spectators. I also love feeling decently in shape again. Doing 13.1 miles felt like no more effort than the 4.6 I did at Thanksgiving, which gives me motivation to keep going.
So to keep going, I’ve done something I thought I’d never do: sign up to run a 5K. Going from 13 miles to 3 might not seem like a challenge, but I’ve never been a runner. And I’m not completely sure my knees will allow it to happen, but I’m going to try. I’m easing into running with a couch-to-5K training program, to be as kind to my knees as possible and give me the best chance to run the race in July.
Last night, before I went out for my training run/walk, I glanced down at my iPhone armband, my moisture-wicking shirt, my running shoes. “Who AM I?” I jokingly asked Andy. I’m not sure who this girl is, but I hope she sticks around for while.