Have you ever had a goal that took a long time to accomplish? Yesterday, I accomplished my long time goal of running a half marathon in under two hours – maybe not by much but it’s still under 2 hours. In running, every second counts.
I started running in October 2009. My very first race was a marathon (26.2 miles) and it took me 4 hours 53 minutes to complete. Not fast by any means but I was proud of my time considering the only way I trained was by riding my bike. Two months later, I ran my first half and finished 2 hours 5 minutes. Another proud moment. A friend said – if you just train, you will be so much faster. When I started running, I didn’t want to be fast. And actually I would have been proud with a 10 minute/mile pace. Boy…I’ve come a long way…
After these two races, I was hooked on running and have been running ever since. I’ve run close to 20 half marathons and always I knew I could do better. I knew I could go faster. But it seemed like every race I would psyche myself out that I couldn’t do it. Sure, I finished all my races and I’ve made improvement over the years but it just felt that I couldn’t seem to reach that sub two time for the half marathon. I wanted it so bad, I could taste it.
Finally, after almost 6 years of running, I reached my goal yesterday. Sure, I ran through chemo, post chemo, and countless other things that I said were the reasons I couldn’t reach my goal but the real reason was me. I always let my mind get in the way. For me, the mind is 90% of the run. The physical part is easy – just one step in front of the other – over and over, faster and faster.
I realized that the St. Paddy’s Day Tacoma Half had potential to be my race. It was relatively flat (or so I thought) and I feel like I’ve prepared appropriately. The Hot Chocolate 15k was the moment I realized I could do this and my friend Bethany helped me believe. Luckily for me, she was also running the half.
Race day came. I got up at before the crack of dawn and headed north to Tacoma. I have my ritual now on race day – stop at Starbucks for a bacon gouda breakfast sandwich and a hazelnut latte…both of these things are ‘key’ before the race. By the time I got to Tacoma, I took care of business and waited with my friends till the start of the race. It wasn’t the best weather but for running, it was almost perfect. Cloudy, a light drizzle (sometimes harder rain), and about 55 degrees. The only thing I could really do without was the wind.
The race started and Bethany and I were on our way and making great time. Truth is, we probably went out too fast but I haven’t been able to start a race any other way. I start running and I run what just feels right. The first 6 miles were great – under a 9 minute pace. The next 6 were challenging and the final mile I was trying to pick up the pace. For a moment, I thought I could actually have an awesome PR. But there was a head wind and some hills that I wasn’t quite expecting – especially at the last 1/4 of the race. I actually had to walk up that last hill and part of me wanted to give up on my sub two but I was so close. I knew if I could get to the top of this last hill, I could sprint to the finish. I always tell myself I can do anything for five minutes. Pain is temporary and the pride of my first sub two will be forever.
I crossed the finish line at 1:59:05! This race meant a lot to me. It’s the last one that I will ever do in my “30’s” and I wanted to make sure I go out with a bang. And I did. I finished with a sub two half marathon and 21st place (out of 88) in my age group. I feel more than just proud, I feel ecstatic!
So 40 – I’m coming for you and you better watch out! I’ve got more in me and I can’t wait for the next age group. Maybe…just like wine…I’ll get better.