Tues. Oct. 26th: I had been feeling pretty stressed on Friday, the last time I blogged. My knee was killing me and I was seriously considering throwing in the towel. I was really getting down and questioning my motives and thoughts for pursuing this whole thing. Thank goodness, Saturday was a new day. I called my hubby’s cousin and sister (both are physical therapists) and spoke with them about my knee issue and they gave me some tips and thoughts as to what the pain was. I then called my neighborhood friend who is a Chiropractor and her office fit me in immediately. It was a huge blessing! I went to her office and she adjusted my back, my neck and hip. Then she worked on my knee. By the time I left her office, I felt so much better. Even though I was still a little sore, I could walk better than I did before I got to her office. I decided at that point to “go for it” so in the late afternoon, me, hubby and the boy headed out for Augusta. The race was on Sunday at 7am. God must have been smiling down on me because I slept like a baby, even though I had to get up at 5am. Since I had arrived too late to pick up my runner’s packet on Saturday, I had to get there before 6:30am on Sunday to get it, otherwise I couldn’t run in the race. Well, it got pretty stressful because hubby and I left before 6am, but got lost. At 6:20am, we were still driving around trying to figure out where to go. We finally found our way and at around 6:25am, I arrived to get my packet. Whew! That was a little too close for comfort for me.
7am… On your mark, get set, GO GIRL! As most of you already know, I DID it! I seriously freaking did IT! I ran my very first ½ marathon. At this point, I am going to recap the highlights of some the more memorable miles I ran.
Miles 1-3: I always take walk breaks. That’s how I run. But somehow, I got caught up in the frenzy of the race and since everyone in front of me was running and not stopping, I was darned if I was going to be the first. Yes, pride got the best of me for the first three miles. Visions kept filling my head of Lot’s wife from the Bible turning into a pillar of salt because she looked back on the land of Sodom. (Okay, I admit, I did glance back-just once during the whole entire race, but the thought of Lot’s wife kept me looking forward for the rest!) At around mile 2, hubby was there to cheer me on. It sure felt good knowing that he was there to encourage me. I blazed by him and did my best to keep trucking forward even though I wanted to give him a great big kiss for being there for me.
I was doing my best to get into that “runners zone” that all runners seem go into during a race. The thought that kept my mind most occupied during the first three miles was about the other acquaintance friend in my neighborhood that was running this same race. I just knew she was miles ahead of me by now. I tried to keep telling myself that it was “okay” and “no big deal” that “I am not competitive anyway” and “I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.” Right at the mile three marker, I made the decision to walk it out for a few seconds. Even though I was feeling surprisingly good still, I knew I needed to rest my knee a little and take a bit of my power bar. I walked for about 10-15 seconds, chewing my grainy bar and swagging some water from my bottle. Then out from behind me, she comes trotting past me right around mile 3! Say what?! I couldn’t believe she had been behind me for the first few miles! I joked with her for a second and ran past her. Then she ran past me. Then I ran past her. Then she ran past me and kept on running! That was the last I saw of her until after the race. But that’s okay, the thought that I was ahead of her for the first three miles, in some twisted way, gave me the energy I needed to keep plodding along. I found my “pace’ and kept on moving forward.
Mile 4 and 5: Those miles were pretty non-eventful. My mind was focused on the beautiful weather and how lucky I was that I had two legs to run with. The song “Eye of the Tiger” from the Rocky movie was blaring in my head and it made me laugh out loud at point when I thought about. I also kept saying to myself, “Run like a butterfly. Sting like a bee!” (Yes, I know it’s “float like a butterfly”, but that day, my brain was saying “RUN, FOREST RUN!”)
Mile 6: I started thinking about my good friend who has run several marathons already. Her encouraging words I read in her last e-mail and the fact that she was running in an underwear fundraiser for colon cancer awareness on the same day I am doing this ½ marathon. Mile 6 was dedicated to her and also praying for certain people I was randomly thinking about. I was also thanking God for my knee that was still going strong… At mile six, hubby’s cousin and my son were at the corner waiving and cheering for me! I was so happy to see familiar faces and hear cheers of encouragement. Then, just like a shot, a sharp pain entered my left kneecap and sent me limping. This is it, I thought. Just great. Here goes my knee and there isn’t a thing I can do about it. The pain was pretty severe. I started walking, drank some water and chewed some more of my power bar. “No pain, no gain” I kept saying to myself. “Dammit, Michelle, you CAN do this. Now DO IT. KEEP GOING.” After about 20 seconds, I started running again. I was bound and determined to run or collapse trying. I HAD TO FINISH. I was not going to go down like this. Or was I?
Mile 7-9: I somehow worked through the pain in my knee and the sharpness left me. I was going steady again and by this point, the run was becoming much more enjoyable. Hubby’s cousin and my son surprised me again and were there cheering me on. There were lot of trees and pretty views during this part of the run. I only slowed to walk very briefly- just enough to sip some water from my bottle and take a bite of my power bar here and there. I’ve gotta tell you, those things taste like gritty paste, but they really do work to keep your energy up. This is also the part of the race where I believe I ran under the bridge. At this point, my son, my hubby, his cousin, his cousin’s hubby and their baby were all on the bridge hooting and hollering at me. Gosh, that felt good. I cannot tell you how awesome it felt to have family there to cheer me on. As I ran, I dedicated this portion of the race to thanking God for all the incredible family he blessed me with. I started thinking about where my life was in my twenties and again, thanked God for all the changes He made in my life since then.
Mile 10: I am calling this my “angel” part of the race. I was getting really worn out at this point. I knew I only had three more miles to go, but I was tired and my knee was feeling it again. I slowed to take another walk break and from behind me, this man in his 50’s comes trotting up to me saying, “You’re doing great. Don’t slow down. Come on now, let’s go.” I picked up the pace again and with the help of my new friend, I started running in step with him. He talked and told me how he had run several marathons before and that this run was a practice for his next marathon coming up. I glanced over at him because to tell you the truth, I hadn’t even looked at him until then. My first thought was, “Could this be some famous runner like Jeff Galloway- Someone who now just runs for the fun of it and looks for people to encourage?” I took a good look at him, but I decided it couldn’t be Galloway. I asked his name and he told me it was “Phil.” I told Phil he was my angel and that I wouldn’t still be running if it weren’t for him. I wanted to walk it out. My legs were tired, but Phil kept me going. He could tell where I was mentally and physically and he understood. He just kept encouraging me and talking, giving me tips and telling me about different races. I was too winded at this point to be much of a conversationalist, but he thankfully didn’t seem to mind.
Mile 11: Phil was still with me and we kept trucking. I was dying to walk again, but he wouldn’t have any of it! “Let’s keep going,” he encouraged. I went as far as I could and then I had to walk a second. I took about 20 steps and got back in the run. Phil waited for me. I kept thinking, “This man is an angel sent from God to get me through this.” I asked Phil if he would take a picture with me so I could remember him. I wanted to make sure he was real.
Mile 12: We’re in the home stretch. I ran by my hubby’s other cousin as she cheered me on. I so surprised to see her since I had no idea she would be there. I waived and Phil and I kept moving forward. Another few minutes go by and we run pass my son, my hubby, his other cousin and her husband and baby. Almost there…
Mile 13: I am wheezing. I am tired. My knee is locking up again and as much as I want to plow forward, I begin to slow down again. Phil is still running with me and telling me about the rest of this last leg of the course. We go down this street and then turn left and then the finish line is just ahead. I slow to take one last walk break and thank Phil again for running this out with me. As I see the finish line, I gain the bit of momentum that I had stored up just for this time. I ran as fast as my legs could still carry me at that point. I could feel my running partner slip out behind me and like a ghost, Phil was gone. I kept running and through the finish line I went. Above me, the sign flashed 2:12:24. I DID IT! I finished my very first ½ marathon. In exactly eight weeks to the day of my first training run, I did it! And I finished it in 2 hours, 12 minutes and 24 seconds. For the rest of the day, I wondered if the time I thought I saw was right. My last long run the Sunday prior was over 12 minutes per mile. I finished this race one week later at just over 10 minutes per mile! I wanted to jump and shout. All of my encouragers were there to see me at the finish line- my son, hubby, his cousin, his other cousin and her husband and their baby. I felt so loved. Then I wondered where Phil was… And like a ghost, he re-appeared, next to me while my hubby caught us on camera. He was real! This race was real. And I finished it. I had the medal around my neck to prove it. I hugged Phil and thanked him again and we parted ways as I hugged the family that came out to see me. What a day.
Mon. Oct. 25th: Limped most of the day. Iced my knee and took an Advil. I went to see my Chiropractor friend again. Got a half hour massage and some adjustments. Felt much better after that, although the knee still hurt. At least I lost my limp.
It’s still hard for me to believe that the ½ marathon is behind me. It’s already Tuesday and my mind is still not fully wrapped in the thought of moving forward to the Disney Marathon yet. I have decided to pray about it for a few more days. Am I really up for it? Do I really feel like doing it? My time was so good on the ½, do I risk ruining it by pushing for the full? I can’t get “Phil” out of my head. How he ended up being there at just the right moment of the race… I know I would never have had that finish time I had if it weren’t for him. Will I be able to keep that kind of momentum going at Disney knowing that only hubby and our son will be there to cheer for me? And also knowing that I will be running 26.2 miles all by myself??? I am having some serious doubts now. I realize how important it was to have the “atta girls” and “cheers” from my family along the way. It reminds me of life itself. It’s hard to do on your own, all by yourself. You need people to get you though. I don’t know how people with no family do it. I sit here and count my blessings.
I have signed up for my next 10k which is next weekend. I pray that will get through it and have a sense of whether or not to pursue the Disney Marathon. I feel I have reached a plateau and I don’t know if the mountain I have set before me is too high or whether it’s something I still really want to do. It’s weird because before the ½, it’s all I wanted to do. Now I am wavering.
I am asking those of you who are reading this to please pray for me.
Tonight as I close, I leave you with this quote- The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move. – John Wooden