I am proud of myself for few things in my life, but running this race is one of them - following the training schedule, pushing myself to do better and run farther. I always said I would never run a half marathon and I would certainly NEVER run outside in inclement weather. Well, guess what, blogosphere, the weather on Sunday was awful. It was 43 degrees when the race started - windy, misting, and at times, all out raining. I mean, the only way it could have been worse is if it actually started snowing. I had a few minutes to journal before we left for the race and one of the things I wrote was,
Dear Jesus, I just want to finish. Please let me finish.
I have never really played sports. I tried a lot of sports, hoping to find my niche, but basketball and soccer were too much running for this girl, I didn't make the competitive gymnastics team, and I could never get that dang volleyball over the net when I served. Athletic has always been close to the last word used to describe me, probably listed right next to quiet and shy. Meanwhile, my sisters both played volleyball all through high school and college and my brother played baseball, and while they were always working hard to improve at their sport, the only goals I really set for myself were academic ones. I pushed through high school and college thinking, Please let me get an A on this test, but even that was never really that hard to do. School was pretty easy for me. So, I don't know that I have really worked toward something - pushing myself to complete a set goal - especially since graduating college. Sure, there have been work deadlines and events to prepare for, but my personal goals were sparse. I've found it's easy to sit in the cozy rhythms of your life and never push yourself to do anything.
Then, in November of last year, I asked my sister if we should try to do the half. It seemed like the American 30-something thing to do - I mean basically everyone I know has done it. Honestly, it was never a real desire of mine and I thought she would say no, except, you guys, she did not say no. Yikes. So, my mom, my sister and I woke up early every Saturday since January to put in the miles. I battled pain a lot of the way. The forecast was saying cold/rainy on race day. It was everything I didn't think I could do. But, I finished. My official time was 2:05:09. Five months ago, the furthest I ran was a couple of 5K races, but I finished the half without walking or taking a break or any of the things I made goals not to do and I feel pretty good about that.
Everyone said the atmosphere would be the best part, and it definitely was the best part. I don't know about other marathons, but Nebraskans turn out for each other and I love that so much. I had friends cheering for me at various points along the course and seeing their faces gave me little bursts of energy at just the right time. Spectators held hilarious signs like, Run, stranger, run! and This is practice for November 8 when we all run to Canada! and You're kicking so much ASSphalt! But the real MVPs are my mom and sister who stayed near me the entire race. My mom is a fast runner (her finish last year was 1:41:27!) and she could have done really well in her age division had she put on her jets and run at her own pace. But, since it was our very first half marathon, she stayed with Erin and me the whole time, cheering us on, pushing us to finish. She thanked every single police officer who held back traffic at the intersections, pumped her fists in the air while she whooped and hollered and cheered FOR THE SPECTATORS, and was an encourager for other runners as they passed along the way, as if she wasn't running 13 miles in the cold herself. You guys, she's a 55-year-old Wonder Woman. I was so impressed with her the whole race and also super thankful she stayed near. The three of us trained together each week and we finished together, running across the 50 yard line in Memorial Stadium feeling like some real champions.
People keep asking me if it was fun and I don't know that I would really say it was fun. It was a lot of things - very hard being top of the list - but I don't know about fun. Like, I can think of at least a thousand other things that are MORE fun than a half marathon, but I'm still glad I did it. It was fun to work toward this end goal and do it with people that I love, although I may have reaffirmed my belief that I'm a better cheerleader than a participant. (No, I didn't make the squad in high school. Don't remind me. Too soon.) I think the most important thing I learned was that I could do it. I'm pretty good at talking myself out of things, telling myself lies, running laps around the inside of my comfort zone, but so far 2016 has been about drawing me out of that - small nudges toward the outer edges of safe. It's so easy to let opportunities slip by because we tell ourselves no or it feels like a risk, but you know what I think about risk. So, now that this is over, I don't know what's next, but I want to do better about setting and achieving goals. I want to do better about pushing myself to do hard things. I want to dip my toes outside of known and do the things I think I can't. What are your goals? Do you have any set right now? Can you set one today? Listen, people, if I can run the half, you can do your very hard thing, too. I just know it.