Last weekend I ran my 6TH Half Marathon! I had a goal to complete three to four Half Marathons by the end of 2015. This race put me at #4 for the year! I ran this particular race last year and I loved the coarse. The GMAA Marathon And Half Marathon brings you on country roads, along the lake and offers some spectacular views of the mountains. This course is truly a piece of what Vermont is in all its beauty. After a long week I was looking forward to this race. I planned to not set out for any PR's, a challenge for sure. It wasn't until mile two that I decided I was no longer going to look at my watch and focus on why I run and embrace the miles ahead.
I always check my watch, whether it be in a race or on my own runs. Each mile I look to see how fast I have run and start counting the miles. Watching my time pushes me to go faster, run harder and challenge myself. The first two miles of this race I did look at my watch to be sure I was on track with the race course. Then I vowed to myself not to look again until I saw that finish line. I knew it would be so tempting to sneak a peak yet I was determined to not be absorbed by a new PR and offer this race up as a time to be thankful for my life. I wanted to be able to reach within myself to take this time to reflect, unwind and clear my head.
I fell into a rhythm, the sound of my feet on the ground mixed with the sound of my own breath creating a song. I was in my happy place. The views were breathtaking and the air was cool but welcoming. I could hear the crunching of the leaves that had already fallen and given themselves to the earth.
Running is about "moments". Sometimes it is not mine but another runner's moment that brings me to tears. While waiting to start I watched parents hug their daughter wishing her good luck, telling her they were so proud of her. I could feel the tears surface to my eyes as I tried to blink them away. I watched friends giddy and eager to run together. I saw the look of determination, the look of fear, and the look of joy across the hundreds of runners who eagerly waited to run.
I think many runners would agree with me that in order to want to exceed in this sport we rely on support. I love the high fives, the encouraging words from fellow runners, the groups of people standing in hats and gloves on a windy day cheering on all the runners. I smiled at the little girl who held up a sign saying : Free High Fives. As I ran by her I said: "I will take one of those". Right after me I heard someone say to her: "How about Ten"?! It's that kind of support! It's the support you get when you reach mile five and see your father standing there with his camera when he could be doing something else ( and be warm!) but he is there for you. It is when you reach the finish line and see the faces of your children and husband. Without them, I may not be running. Yes, I run for me though I am inspired to do so because of them.
Running this course last year I remembered the rolling hills right at the end of the course around mile eleven. Being it was my second Half Marathon at that time I was a different runner. Those last couple miles were really difficult and I know I most likely did not have a smile on my face but rather the look of pain. I think I may have even swore a few times to get me up over those inclines. This time it felt different. I wasn't exasperated and I enjoyed those last few hills. Hills may be a challenge, but they also make you stronger. I am thankful for each hill I run up. Plus, what goes up must come down right?!
I finished the race feeling accomplished. I did not get a new PR but still finished strong. I had set out to embrace this run and when I hit that finish line I knew I had done exactly that.
Official Time: 1:43:09 Averaging a 7:52M
Here is the break down from my watch which was only off by 3 seconds:
Mile 1: 8:28
Mile 2: 7:52
Mile 3: 8:04
Mile 5: 7:48
Mile 6: 7:39
Mile 8: 7:46
Mile 9: 7:56
Mile 10: 8:02
Mile 11: 7:50
Mile 12: 7:58
Mile 13: 7:17 Strongest mile!!!
I finished 21 out of 245 Female Half Marathoners (They didn't post an overall and quite frankly I suck at math and have no desire to figure it out)
The only thing I did not enjoy about this race was the fact that by mile two I already had to pee! I was definitely hydrated and it was beginning to be a curse. This is where I thought in my head that I would seriously consider wearing depends if I ever did a marathon. There is no way I could ever make it without having to pee. I do not like stopping either. I am always worried it will throw off my momento: "A body in motion stays in motion". Thankfully I did not piss myself and was thrilled to see the blue bathroom when I was done.
Not looking at my Garmin was not easy, it was tempting. The beeps of my watch were like little voices calling me to look, just sneak one little peak. Halfway through my run I stopped hearing those beeps. Instead I felt a euphoria, a sense of happiness and peace. This is why I run. I run to heal, I run to grow, I run to be a better me. There is such a satisfaction that comes from a new PR. There is also that same satisfaction with letting yourself honor the run, to embrace the run and be thankful that your body can do this amazing thing.
Running has taught me so much. Running has taught me limits and prepared me for challenges. I have become a stronger person, a healthier person, and a more optimistic person. Running has showed me that the body is capable of change in ways we may not realize. Running has given me strength and will, it has taught me self discipline. Running has proved to me that I can do anything I put my mind to, you just have to want it bad enough.
"It's important to know that at the end of the day it's not the medals
you remember. What you remember is the process -- what you learn about
yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other
people, the honesty the training demands -- those are things nobody can
take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you're an Olympic
-Silken Laumann, Canadian Olympian