This spring has been anchored in running. Run because you’re strong. Run because you want to feel better. Run long because you’re sure as heck not running the Boston marathon. Run in honor of those who were there that day. Run in the cold. Run on the bike path. Run on the rail trail with mom on the weekend. Run run run run run.
On Sunday, we finally had the run we were waiting for: my very first half marathon.
The start line at the Cox Providence Half Marathon was gray and overcast – we had lots of company at the 14:00 mile marker, including lots of cops in riot gear. When the race finally started (late), we started out under cloudy skies.
But the next three hours got brighter and brighter, metaphorically speaking, as mom and I ran. Even though the first half was entirely uphill, it was spotted with awesome sights (thanks, dude playing a banjo on the porch!), beautiful houses, our awesome family and fan club who we got to see SIX times between the start and the finish, some friendly competition with some other gals who were running at the same pace as us, and more.
It wasn’t always easy – the hills were killer, and the downhills made my knees ache even as I was grateful for a change. We got super hungry halfway through (working out for hours can do that to you!) and it rained for a bit.
Through the race, I felt stronger with every footfall that reverberated off the pavement. With every inch behind us, we got closer to this amazing accomplishment. The area by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s water stop was paved with inspirational posters that literally brought tears to my eyes – notes about how we run because they can’t, how we run because they can, how we run because they – survivors, patients, loved ones – once did. Because of the 20+ names on my back that spoke to just how much blood cancer can touch a life. And because 15 years ago this spring, I was a sick, bald kid in a hospital bed who wasn’t sure I would live to have my first kiss, and today I was a successful woman, running a stellar, challenging race.
When we passed mile 10, I took one step further than I’ve ever gone in my life. And it got better – the final leg of the race course merged with the full marathon course, and we go an extra boost from finishing alongside some quite fast marathoners.
As we got near the finish, we could see the crowd ahead. All up and down the sidewalk were fellow runners, family members, neighbors, friends, and students, all out to cheer us on. Their cheers built into a roar of bells and applause and screeches to push us across the finish line. You might have thought that the area around that yellow line would be a little less populated this time around, but you would be absolutely, delightfully, overwhelmingly wrong. Instead, people showed the best of themselves, and passed it on to everyone else around them.
Mom and I crossed the finish line at 3:05:50 – much faster than we expected, with an average pace of 14:11 (including a bathroom break!). We ran into the arms of our loving family – Kat, Dad, and Wes – and smiled through our sweat. “We actually did it,” we said to each other, holding our weird anchor medals in our hands. “We finished!”
This was my first half marathon, but it’s certainly not my last. This confirmed the one thing that I was actually afraid of in this whole process – the concept that I can truly do anything. And now, I have no excuse not to try.
Thank you for all your support this year – I can’t wait to tell you about the next adventure… just as soon as I decide what it is!