It’s Peggy here…your guest blogger for this entry.
Many of you are aware that I have spent the last 10 weeks training for my first half-marathon. I started running when we moved to Boulder last August in an effort to lose weight and get in shape. Plus, I AM in Boulder…the fitness capital of the country…it’s tough to lay on the couch eating Cheetos and drinking Iron City and not feel guilty as you see countless runners and bikers go whizzing by outside. So I laced up the sneakers and off I went!
After running recreationally and losing nearly 20 pounds, my neighbor, Sue Dettling, talked me into doing a half-marathon. I believe that some wine was involved, as I would never have agreed to this otherwise. Once I realized what I agreed to, I a) vowed never to drink wine with Sue again b) panicked, and c) found a training plan tout de suite! The plan consisted of 3-4 average runs each week (4-5 miles each) and then a long slow run once each week, starting at 8 miles and building up to 12. I am proud to say that even with an unpredictable travel schedule and an injury, I was able to complete the plan. The Sunday morning runs were the toughest…I was usually out by 6:30 AM, just as the sun was coming up. At first, I ran in silence. No good. Then I started meditating and talking to God. Better. Finally, I ended up bringing the MP3 player and cranking the tunes. I am happy to say that a good mix of Kid Rock, Metallica and Seether saw me through.
So, today is Race Day and Sue picked me up at 4 AM for our one-hour trek to Fort Collins, CO, the site of the Colorado Half Marathon and Marathon. It was wicked early but the race started near the top of a pretty remote canyon, necessitating that all participants ride buses to the starting line. We arrived at the starting point via bus at 6 AM and spent the next hour huddling with ~1,200 other runners in an effort to keep warm…wow was it COLD! After hitting the port-o-potty three times (I was nervous and couldn’t stop peeing!) and taking off all of the warm clothes, we made our way to the starting line. I was really, really nervous…Would I finish? Would my injured leg hold up? Would I beat the walkers? Would I be dead last? WOULD I THROW UP ON MY SHOES IN FRONT OF ALL THESE PEOPLE?
The starting gun went off and off we all went. I have been told that many racers make the mistake of going out too early and bonking by mid-race. I was sure to start super slow, concentrating on my breathing and enjoying the beautiful mountains around me. Yeah, I was being passed by a lot of people, but I kept my pace. Mile 1….Mile 2….Mile 3….Mile 4…. I felt really good and was beginning to see a lot of those early fast runners were dropping back or even walking, yet I kept my slow and steady pace. I was out of the canyon at Mile 5 and heading for Bagel Hill, the toughest part of the course. I kept the steady pace and made it to the top, flexing my bicep and giggling to a group of folks clapping and urging me on. At Mile8, I saw the most motivating site of the day…Kurt and Chloe cheering me on and taking pictures. Chloe ran with me for a short while and I gave Kurt my long-sleeved shirt before heading on. The course turned onto an uneventful bike path and I took a quick potty break at Mile 10. I came running out the port-o-potty to find Kurt and Chloe snapping pictures and laughing at me, sprinting back to the race course. At about Mile 10.5 my leg injury started flaring up, but there was NO WAY I was stopping…NO SIR-EEE…CUT IT OFF, SLAP ON A BAND-AID, AND LET ME KEEP GOING! I have to admit the last 3 miles were tough…my legs were heavy, my left knee was throbbing and I was going really, really slow. However, when I turned the corner and saw that Finish Line, I dug deep and found energy that I didn’t think I had…enough to sprint the last ¼ mile or so to the Finish.
What a great moment…crowds clapping and cheering as I ran through the Finish chute, the announcer calling my name and best of all, Kurt and Chloe once again, cheering, clapping, yelling and even shedding a tear or two of pride…FOR ME! I will never, ever forget that moment as long as I live. Wow.
So I did it. I had a plan, I stuck to it and I saw it through. I owe a lot to Sue for talking me into it, to ibuprofen and ice packs for making the pain manageable, and most of all to Kurt and Chloe, for all of their support and love. They are the best cheering section imaginable.
What next? Well, I’ve already done a half-marathon…how much tougher can a full marathon be? (Pictures, top to bottom: Getting a boost and running partner ; is a caption really necessary?; charging towards the finish line; the little piggy that stayed home grew some kidneys during the race.)