2016 is almost here, and for some reason we are expected to write a useless list of mostly unattainable goals that we give up on before January 15th, you know it’s true. Why do we have to make a list of many? Why can’t we just make one and focus on it, complete it, and then make a new one? People in general, suck at prioritizing as it is, why do we make things so complicated for ourselves??? It’s like we love to make lists filled with contradicting ideas just to watch ourselves fail and then forget to even try again; quite frankly the odds of losing 30 lbs in 2 weeks alongside a goal to drink every stout ever made, is pretty slim (yes, I’m at it again).
So this past year, 2015, I decided to take it one goal at a time, I put down one thing on my list in December 2014 and set out to complete it before I made a second goal for myself I had never run a mile before October 2014 as an adult, but I had it in me to try. I started running just because and I SUCKED. Then December came, and a friend of mine convinced me to sign up for a half-marathon in April in Nashville of all places, told me we can make a mini-vacation out of it. Sure, why not? So I signed up and then 2 hours later realized what the heck I did and panicked. 13.1 miles??? Seriously?I can barely run a 15 min mile consistently without losing my lunch. Jake (told you to remember him) told me he would make sure I was ready, made me put it on my “list” and ultimately became my only goal until it was completed.
I’m not going to get into my training schedule, etc, because it’s boring and no one cares, even I don’t. But on April 25th, I did run that half, finished it in good time and could actually put a checkmark next to something on my list! After that race, I wrote an unpublished journal entry to myself talking about how I felt running that race, mile for mile, being my first one. Some of you may find it corny, some of you may find it inspiring, and those of you that are avid runners, this may bring you back to your first race 🙂 Here it is….2:23.
2:23 April 25, 2015
So it began……Friday night, as soon as I got my bib, I knew it was real, I was really doing this. I still didn’t know why or even how I got to this place where I was picking up a race bib.
I walked through that convention center kind of in a daze wondering if I can back out now and not look stupid. Fat chance….I was in it and knee deep.
That night I slept mainly because my mind was exhausted from being nervous. I ate to fill my stomach without an appetite and I drank water until I bloated like balloon hoping my body could store it like a camel.
I woke, couldn’t poop, dressed, drank coffee, ate some breakfast, and finally took my poop. Then my stomach fell to the floor when I pinned that orange bib on me. I kissed my gold chain, tucked it in my bra and looked up and prayed.
I hadn’t been this nervous about anything in a long time. This was so unknown and unchartered for me, my emotions felt so inorganic.
Starting Line: So many people, just so many people…..Corral 34….BS….moved up to Corral 23….10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, …….can’t turn back now….here we go.
Mile 1 – Easy, took a smiling pic, thought about how that went by too easy….where are the hills???
Mile 2 – Took some more smiling pics, found a hill, eh, not so bad, used diff muscles, gave others a rest.
Mile 3 – Ok, 5K territory….pace is a bit slow, but man this city is actually really pretty, entering some nice historic areas. Hills are moderate but easy going….body feels good, hate the people in front of me, dodging people left and right, my stride starting to break because of the onset of walkers. I was just starting my run, my rhythm was just starting to take form and I was just settling in to the pavement. I waltzed with the hills as we took turns leading and glided on the pavement like a freshly buffed dance floor. I could do this all day.
Miles 4-5 – My legs felt amazing, I mean really, I was so shocked as to how well they were responding to the ground and my shoes and maybe even my training. I started to take in the view and watch the spectators and smile at them with acknowledgement as they cheered us on. I saw a woman with a mimosa and realized I was thirsty…..that Gatorade stand at Mile 6 couldn’t come fast enough. I saw an elderly gentleman with a full on white moustache and beard wearing a blush pink suit with white lapel sitting on his lawn with a bottle of champagne and his beautifully dressed wife raising his glass to every runner that smiled at him.
Mile 6-8 – HELL. At this point, I had predicted my left hip would start getting irritated, which is did at Mile 7. My hamstring on the right leg tightening up, which that never happened. I always start to fatigue as it can start to take a toll on my body. Well, Mile 6, Hill 1. CRAP…where did this thing come from?? Mile 7ish – Hill 2, CRAP AGAIN….what happened?? When did I fall asleep and land in San Francisco???!!! Mile 7.5, Mini-Hell Hill…because the bigger ones weren’t enough, let’s put a smaller on in there. Mile 8…..FML. Not even funny. I finally break my stride and walk sometime between 7 and 8.
But here’s the thing, sometimes, every once in awhile, there is a blessing in disguise. As I start to slow down, I notice all these kids lining the course wanting high fives like we were all celebrities. It was so endearing and I took it all in. High fived every kid in my path, knowing I wasn’t going to make my sub 2hr mark, but knew I was way ahead of 2:30…and then I met a little boy that might have changed my life forever.
He was on the curb, reaching his little hand out and some runners high fived him and some ignored him. He had little tears glistening in his eyes and I stopped as he and his mother had just had a tiff over the fact that he wanted to run for a min with a runner. She said his health was an issue and I learned he was diagnosed with lymphoma. I kneeled down and he grabbed my hand and I asked his mother if I could run with him. She nodded and said his father was at the end of the block. That little boy and I ran hand in hand for a half block and he had a smile on his face that I will never ever forget. His big brown eyes so happy, his tears replaced with sparkle. I reached the end of the block and this beautiful little boy gave me the biggest hug and put his hands on my cheeks and kissed me on the lips and said thank you. That was the only verbal exchange I had with him. I won’t ever see him again, but I won’t ever be able to replace that moment in my heart with another again. God Bless him and his parents, and I pray that God protects him and looks after him for the rest of his life and beyond.
It was that moment that I realized this race wasn’t about numbers anymore, it was bigger than that. I began to soak everything in. Why I was doing this, how I was able to do this, what I wanted out of this, who I was doing this for….it all started to make so much more sense as my legs were starting to make less sense below me. UGH. Hills.
Miles 9-10 – Coming off an emotional few miles, I started to get my stride back as the hills subsided and the ground softened for me again like a cloud and let me float above it in good measure. At this point, I knew the end was near and I was gearing up for my coveted 2 mile sprint that I had carefully paced myself for.
Mile 11-12 — The sprint starts, I am hitting the pavement hard, and every part of my body can feel every groove of the cement. Each crack, ripple, divot in the ground ran waves through my body to my fingertips. I could feel my feet dig into the cement, owning it, and letting it know it wasn’t going to beat me. I loved this, I loved how this felt. I finally felt like I embraced this course and it finally let me in.
Mile 13 – Well……that dance ended quickly. I felt like I had been sucker punched, a jab in the face and then a slug to the stomach….2 hills. One at 12 and the other at 12.4…..so hard, I couldn’t sprint them, I felt like the road turned into a bed of nails and each movement hurt. I was winded and completely confused and slightly defeated.
Then came the final decline, steep as ever. I bit my lip and dug deep inside and ran faster than I ever had allowing physics and adrenaline take over as I flew by and felt invincible.
Finish Line – So many emotions, I don’t even know if I understood them all. Accomplishment, relief, admiration, exhaustion, exuberance, triumph, arrogance, happiness, cockiness and even sadness, all in the form of tears. I didn’t know which emotion to feel and which ones were real and which ones were fleeting
The sadness, was my own fault, a regrettable decision I made, an oversight that I can’t take back.
The need to have someone at the finish line may have diminished, but the WANT to have someone there, I ignored and didn’t tap in to. The absence of that hug from someone of your own and that familiar face that smiles at you because maybe whether you realize it or not, but crossing that finish line meant more to them than you will ever know.
That medal was so much to me at that moment. I don’t know if I can even completely explain it now either. I didn’t take it off for almost 18 hours. I couldn’t.
I stretched out on the grass as the Nashville sun bathed me and I closed my eyes and realized that I will never have that moment again, my first race, my first medal, my first finish line……so many lessons learned, so much of myself I discovered and uncovered, and finally the overwhelming sense of pride that I have never quite felt even when I danced, this all felt so different….I can’t explain it, except that those hills have a piece of my heart and soul and a full gamut of my respect, mutual as it may be.
Here’s to 2:23, 13.1 miles that redefined me.
So, final words……make ONE plan, or make a few, but do ONE at a time. This way you can focus on it fully and actually have a chance at achieving it. That doesn’t mean you can’t dovetail other smaller goals, just as long as you never lose sight of what you are really aiming for. You may even surprise yourself and achieve something you never even planned to! In my case, I completed my one goal and realized that I wanted to do another race! I would never have thought 2 races in one year, but that’s called evolution. You are allowed to evolve through the year, adjust your goals or just make new ones up all together. Listen and learn from yourself, you
are a lot smarter than you may give yourself credit for. Whatever you do, don’t stop trying, and keep pushing, it’s worth it, I promise.
Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2016!!!
Next up…..I don’t know, I vowed not to make make too many resolutions I can’t keep 🙂