I did it. I finished the Route 66 Half Marathon. Not only did I finish, but I set a PR of 2:28. Not only did I set a PR, but I did it injured and without running for 4 weeks prior.
I have no clue where it came from. I had no idea I had it in me.
Here is my attempt to re-cap my shocking performance:
If you haven't heard, October 24th I had a major IT band flare up, which kept me from my running shoes for 25 horrible days. As race day approached, I soon realized it was unrealistic to run the whole thing. During my running-hiatus, I couldn't run 1 mile without pain, so there was no way I could run 13.1. Despite this, I knew I couldn't drop out. I was determined to get across the finish line; whether that meant walking or crawling, I was going to cross it.
The night before, I laid out my day's gear. Nervous and excited for the morning to come.
Here's Jessi and I all bundled up before the race. We quickly shed our layers because the temperature was a nice, but breezy, 55-ish degrees.
To be honest, I 100% expected to begin running, but knew my knee would flare up by mile 1. Knowing Jessi had trained long and hard, this would be the point where we would split up, as she was going for a PR. And I would be faced with the 12 miles of walking alone. Sad and alone.
But mile 1 came and went. Mile 1.5 came with Jessi looking over asking how I felt. Surprising, I felt pretty good. From then on, Jessi required reassurance of my condition every half mile. And every time she questioned my current state, I was astonished by my positive response.
As we passed mile 3, I knew I could make it to mile 5 with Jessi, where I knew our boys would be waiting for us. Knowing I was going to find my husband cheering for me made the 2 miles fly by. Before I knew it, we spotted Josh and Jacob with cameras in hand.
I could tell Josh was surprised I was still running; I had told him that I would be walking the whole way. He suspiciously looked at me and asked how I felt. I eased his mind by telling him I felt great, confirming the statement with a double thumbs up!
The next few miles flew by. Between adorable dogs, marching bands, and cute old priests I was entertained...and I hadn't even turned my music on yet! Then we saw the boys at mile 7, which was a nice surprise because we didn't think we would see them until the 11 mile mark.
At this point, I was beyond thrilled to have ran this far. If I had to crawl the rest of the way to the finish line, it would have been more than I hoped for. Was it too good to be true? In the back of my mind, I knew my knee would hit me like a ton of bricks and force me to a halt.
And at around 8.5 I thought I was coming to that point. I had been eating Gu Chomps every 10 minutes, trying to keep my energy up but the wind was fierce, my knees were killing me and my hips were tight. Jessi could tell I was in pain and suggested we walk. We walked for a few minutes, just long enough to lengthen our stride and stretch our muscles, but quickly picked up our pace again. If I could run this far, I could run 5 more!
If I thought mile 8 was hard, miles 10-13 were worse. At mile 10, I saw the most haunting experience of my life. ENTs were administering CPR to a man on the side of the road. Seeing the forceful chest compressions was like something on television. This seriously affected me in a way I didn't expect. I work in a hospital for goodness sake! But seeing a young, healthy man like that scared me...and still does. The scene is forever ingrained in my memory.**
Miles 11-13 were a horrible out-and-back and were the longest miles of my life. I could barely move my legs and my stride was super tight. We paused for a brief moment around 12 to stretch and hit the road strong to finish this dag-gum race! Jessi kept yelling out our time as I was counting down the steps in my head. Turning up my music, I push hard. Harder than I realized what was in me.
And we finished the race.
Emotion overcame me as I crossed the finished line. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. I had no intention of running this race, much less beating my previous time. I have to believe it was possible because of:
1) The cheering supporters and their funny signs (ex: Chafe now, brag forever. Seize the road...the city did shut it down for you. Don't suck!)
2.) Knowing my hubby was just around the corner. Josh, thank you for waking up at an un-godly hour without a complaint. Thank you for your worrying eyes yet unyielding encouragement and support. Thank you for never doubting my ability to finish.
3) Having Jessi by my side the whole way (well, except for the last 10 seconds where she dug deep and sprinted at a ridiculous pace). There is something about having someone running with you who will encourage you to go further than you can imagine and support you when you can't go another step . There is no way I could have ran this without you.
Besides the pride and inner-strength we got for finishing this race, we got something else just as awesome: Our spinning medals! We were pumped about how super cool they were.
And of course the finishers food and beer!
Oh, and I have to show you the boys' sign. They didn't go with the boring "Go (enter name here)!" They pride themselves on creativity. Yes, those are kindergarten-style birds and fireworks.
And there ladies and gentleman, is my magical and amazing race recap. Stay tuned for the St. Jude's Memphis 1/2 Marathon in 2 weeks!
**I later discover that this man, 27 years old, died while participating in the half-marathon. May God provide strength for his family. My saddened heart goes out to them.