Monday, October 14, 2013

I (Almost) Cried at Mile 7 of My Half Marathon

Well, dear readers, I thought I would be telling you about ending things with Jason yesterday. But, I couldn’t get a hold of him yesterday, and then today he showed up at my office with these. Shit. So, yeah, I didn’t break up with him yet. Instead, I’d like to tell you about my first half marathon and I’ll try to go easy on the gym teacher metaphors.

13.1 miles and three beers later,
I'm still standing.
The sky was a brilliant blue against the gently changing colors of autumn that define New England. I was approaching mile 7 just before Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Connecticut. I was running alone (but with 10,000+ other runners). Physically, I felt pretty good – no blisters or chafing, no strained muscles, no dehydration. 

But a lump was forming in my chest. A sob was welling up in my throat.

What? Why the hell did I feel like crying?!

I have wanted to do a half marathon for two years now, ever since Sue and I ran 10K that we trained for together and totally kicked ass on our time. But then I hurt my IT band at a 15K race two months later, and I landed in physical therapy for five months. At the same time, my marriage was disintegrating. Then I filed for divorce and we put our condo on the market. I couldn’t take on the training and add yet another challenge to my life.

But this summer, five months after my divorce was final, it was time. Thanks to no IT band problems, plenty of yoga, and a good therapist, I was ready to add the half marathon challenge to my life. I signed up with Jen (also half marathon rookie) and another girlfriend. Let’s do this!

I followed a Hal Hignon training plan diligently. I did some of my runs alone and some with my friends. I found myself falling in love with these training runs and the cleansing effect on my body and soul.

Halfway into my training, we got the offer on our condo. For all of the insanity in my life during those three weeks, I clung to my training. It was order in the midst of the chaos of packing up my condo, finding a new place to live, and most of all, saying goodbye to Max and the life we shared.

So here I was, race day, and my three months of training had totally paid off. I felt good! So what was up with these almost-tears forming?!

When I ran that 10K with Sue, Max was waiting at the finish line with a huge smile on his face. Today, he probably didn’t even remember that I was doing this race. My life was so very different from when I made this goal. And fuck, I’ve been through a lot! Poor me! 

As if on cue, Fighter came on. [Cliché alert!]

Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter


I clawed into those lyrics. I focused on my strength and not the pain (mental or physical). I told myself, I am a bad ass and I can totally do this! I could survive years of rejection from the man I loved, so I totally could survive this! Thank you very much, Christina Aguilera.

My pace picked up from my slowest mile (9:37/mile) to 9:28, then 9:10, then 9:05. Then came mile 12, and again, I had that What The Hell Am I Doing?! moment. I want a beer or a coffee and a recliner! Screw this race crap!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I put on Irene Cara’s Flashdance for some 1980s inspiration. One of my all time favorite quotes is from this song:

Take your passion and make it happen.

I was passionate and focused enough that I made this goal a reality. I got a fresh burst of energy.

I ran that last mile in 8:44.

I finished the race in exactly two hours, a personal best pace for me! Even though I'd had plenty of support leading up to the race, I loved that I ran 13.1 miles on my own. 

As I enjoyed post-race Shipyard Pumpkinhead beers at a nearby bar with my friends, I thought of Max again. He is an amazing runner and he would be so proud of my accomplishment. I pulled out my phone and texted him a picture of me at the finish line holding my medal. He wrote right back, asking about my time, how I felt, and so on. He was there the day I set this goal for myself two years ago, so it felt right to share the goal realization moment with him.


5 comments:

  1. I'm not divorced and suck ASS as a runner, but I had to jump on here and tell you how impressed and amazed I am by your tenacity and drive! The training alone is an epic ordeal to stick to, so I admire your diligence. Good on you and congrats!!

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  2. Hi Beth -- Thank you so much! If someone had told me a few years ago that I was going to run a half marathon, I would've laughed in their face!
    Divorced, married, single... all are welcome on my blog. :)

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  3. Way to go! It sounds like you ran an awesome race! (Jealous of your time.) It's amazing how running can be so cleansing, therapeutic, difficult, meaningful, etc... Congrats on the milestone!

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  4. well done for doing the run! It's important to set yourself some goals.

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  5. Thanks! It was a great experience.

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