Me, Traci, Amy & Megan post race
Sunday was race day. I woke up that morning with a sense that this was my time. Today was my race, my chance to finally realize my goal… a sub 2hr half marathon. The excitement of that thought, the idea that it really could happen, elevated me. I walked out the door with the intent to make it happen.
Traci & I met Megan & Amy downtown in the parking lot. Traci & I crumpled our racing bibs for good luck and I did all of my pre-race things. Potty a few times, quick warm up, put vaseline on anything that might possibly chafe. Friday night, I’d put together what I’d consider to be the world’s best playlist for running and as we stood at the starting line, I let the music pump me up. B.o.B’s Don’t Let Me Fall came on and felt the lyrics… cuz there ain’t no parachute that they can make for this. cuz i put my pain, my heart, my soul, my faith in this. And that was it exactly. Today was the realization of a dream. It might seem crazy that my goal time would be that important but it was. I knew in my heart that I’d be devastated if I didn’t hit it this year and I had no back up plan. 1:59:59 was it. It just had to be.
The race began and we started out hard. Too fast and fighting our way through the crowd. The beginning of a race is a little like a mosh pit. Elbows flying, feet stomping and sea of people. I focused on my breathing and our pace. I knew I had to have a 9:09 pace if I was to hit my goal and I was shooting for even splits. My plan had been rehearsed in my mind a hundred times. When to take my Hammer Gel, what my time at each mile should be, what the course was like, when I would see Dan & the kids. Maybe that’s what made the miles flick by so fast but we had just passed mile 5 when it dawned on me how quick it was all going. 8 more miles. I looked down at my Garmin and saw I was about 30 seconds behind. I’d have to make it up somewhere along the way.
As I made the turn around at mile 8, my resolution became stronger. My focus was my time and it kept my vision narrowed. I barely remember much about the race. I know the day was beautiful and I managed to glance at the leaves as I ran on the trail part of the race but really, my thoughts were on my time. My heart was filled with hope and it lightened my steps. My legs were made stronger by my determination and my lungs filled as much with my desire for my goal as they did with oxygen.
I passed mile 11 and I felt the fatigue begin. This was it, this was what it was all about. 2.1 miles left. Would I punk out now or was I that winner I’d pictured so many times? The vision of seeing the clock at the finish line read 1:59 choked me up and I knew I had to press on. My iPod ticked through songs and Rascal Flatts Feels Like Today came on and it hit me… I woke up this morning with this feeling inside me that I can’t explain… it feels like today. It does feel like today, I thought to myself. This is what it feels like. It feels great. It feels strong when your body is tired. It feels like the miles aren’t as long as they normally are. It feels like hope.
My my mind pictured how amazing it would feel to accomplish my goal. When I passed that finish line and I’d finally done it. My heart swelled just thinking about it and I started talking to myself. Mile 12 and this was it. How awesome I’d feel at the end would be a million times better than how bad my legs felt right now. I pressed on. My legs pumped and my pace quickened. Turn after turn until I could see the last road ahead. 5 more minutes, body. You give me 5 more minutes and you can never move again. Just keep going. Stay strong. It feels like today. Today is my day. This is my day. I could see the finish line ahead. I pushed as hard as I could and as I passed the line, I looked at my Garmin… 2:00. I felt my heart sink with the realization that I’d failed. I’d missed it. My official chip time… 2:00:03.
A dream is a wish that your heart makes. It doesn’t always make sense to others but it’s inside you. It drives you and as you long for it, it becomes almost real. How do you explain that to someone else? Why it’s so important and why you want it so bad. How do you share with someone how crushing 4 seconds can be without sounding insane? I don’t know the answer. Just like I don’t know why that goal is so important to me. But nonetheless it’s there.
I’m proud of my race. I’m proud of my time. My world isn’t devastated and after this post, I won’t even shed another tear about it. I ran the race I wanted to. I felt strong and complete. I ran with my heart and soul. I gave everything I had and I’m proud of that. I put it all out there and I was close… so damn close. Looking back, my heart still says it feels like today. It feels just like I did, just 4 seconds faster.
Congratulations to Traci & Amy on completing their very first half marathon! Your times were awesome and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it. Megan was a total rockstar with a chip time of 156:55. We all PR’ed and we all did great. We should all be proud of what we accomplished.