Today, September 6, 2014 I ran the bird in hand half marathon. I ran this race last year and I haven't stopped talking about it since. I think all my friends should run it at least once. I plan to be back next year. I believe that this is my "must run" race each year.
Friday afternoon I picked up my race bib as well as a friend's. It was super quick and easy to pick them up during the afternoon. Last year was a little bit more challenging. This year I chatted with a few of my friends while we waited for the one and only Christopher McDougall to set up his display. My friend bought a copy of his book Born to Run and I just introduced myself. It was cool because he made it a point to know our names.
Race day morning was uneventful. I was able to get out of the house close to my target and I did not have any issues parking or being able to use the porta pots. I ran into a few of my friends at this point. We wished each other best wishes.
I started the race with the 2 hour pace group just in front of me. I twas very hot and humid so I knew that I needed to keep my goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon in check. I know on a good day I'm more than capable of doing that.
I used the run/walk/run ratio of 2:00 of running and 30 seconds of walking. This kept me at a 10 minute pace for the first few miles I was OK with this but I was only able to keep up with this pace group for a few miles. I did not get discouraged because I knew that I still had lots of room for a personal record. At this point in the race I was still hoping for at least a sub 2:15 half marathon. Little did I know that what I did do was even more important and satisfying.
I would say for the first of the race I was suffering fairly quickly. By mile 6 I really wanted the race to be finished. I'm not exactly sure when I met up with two other runners but I do remember that we were struggling, but I kept up with most of my run sections. Anyway, one of my fellow runners and I were talking about all kinds of different topics. This was excellent because it helped me forget how much I was suffering in the heat. We kept up "most" of the running, but we extended some of the walk breaks.
Then later on another runner heard that we were doing run/walk/run and she wanted to join us. This made it even better because we were able to exchange stories. My favorite story was when we all shared about how running the marathon (especially our first) how it changed our lives... it made it so nothing was impossible for us. I told them that this helped me to get my LPC to become a professional counselor. I am so grateful to running.
Now, the best story is what happened in those last few miles. We ran we walked.... and then walked some more. I know that I could tell that my heart rate was higher than normal at points because of the humidity. Anyway, we decided that we were all going to finish at the same time. It became something so much bigger than ourselves. It wasn't about my personal time... I wanted to help others get across that finish line. Let me tell you... I do feel amazing emotionally even though I had one of my not so great times... but I feel so much excitement and gratitude for being able to meet some really cool runners along my journey.
This reminds me that what my friend John said is so true... "Have a good time and your time will be good." I didn't get a personal record, but I got way more today. So thanks to those two runners who helped make this a meaningful experience.
I truly believe that... if I can do this... then YOU can do it too :-). Until next time!