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My First 1/2 Marathon

Okay, so I am going to try to get a start on how very behind I am on posting about this major event in my life. Everything  was happening so quickly, that I really didn’t have the time to savor the experience and to ponder the depths of meaning of this experience for me. Literally the week before I wrapped up one months worth of work into one jam-packed final week. The day after was packing to go to Turkey and tying up loose ends and then I flew to Turkey for a month. Lots of exciting wonderful things, but I fear that what happened is that the momentousness of this particular day got swept away in a lot of hurry and flurry.

So, My First 1/2 Marathon. I say first, because I fully intend to run another in a few months. I want this one to be the first of many.

Anyway, back to my experience of the day. My husband went with me to the starting line, and there we met up with a friend of mine, who also has been running for weight loss, though this was not her first 1/2. The energy that morning was indescribable.  There were so many people…I knew the numbers, but that was very different from the reality of the mass of people on and around Centennial Park. I was so excited and nervous that I wanted to hurry up and get started, but at the same time, I wanted to slow everything down as it was all happening too fast. I got in my corral, which was pretty far back, and it felt amazing. I was standing there with all these athletic looking people, and then all these other people that didn’t look so different from me…and we were about to embark on this amazing journey together. It just felt good. I could see my husband waiting out in the sidelines, cheering me on, and that felt good too. I realize now that support and cheering on was so important to me because I had never had that before. Never been involved in any sort of “competition” (though the only person here I was competing with was myself) like this and knew that someone was out there rooting for me. That I was supported. On an aside, I was also a little greatly encouraged by the bystanders along the way who had signs cheering on various people running. I was encouraged and I must admit,  I was also a little envious of those runners. This was such a BIG DEAL for me, and those people really got what a big deal it was for their loved ones and were out there supporting themt. I wanted that outpouring of support from my loved ones and throughout the race, I received it somewhat vicariously through these strangers. They got it, this was important.

Back to the race. Much of the race is a blur now. I paced myself and ran pretty slowly, but I ran for most of the race. I only walked when I was getting water, because I find it impossible to run with water in my hand without just throwing it all over myself. I also find it impossible to gulp down water without serious side splits later. 

 I found it humorous how I stayed with about the same runners the whole time. They seemed to run fast for a while, and would pass me..and then spend a good bit of time walking, and I would pass them. I almost felt like I knew these people as we went back and forth, and I made up little ideas in my head about why they were running and what their personalities were like. I felt a sense of camaraderie with everyone (well almost, there was the ugly lady who pushed me, but I am not going to focus on the one negative experience).

A few images stick out in my head. One is running across Wedgewood, we were on 12th or one of those numbered streets. The angle of the road was just right so that it seemed I could see miles ahead of me and there were all these people. All these souls running toward a common goal. We were all different in many ways, and yet here we were together…and I felt part of something big.  What a boost. 

Which brings me to another memory,. I caught up with this guy, older guy of indeterminate age who just looked like a Vietnam Vet. Kind of grizzley and in fair shape. Here he was, jogging along and carrying this very heavy looking flag pole with an American flag. Now if I just saw this guy out and about, I would have put a lot of labels on in mentally, and some of them wouldn’t have been very nice. But here he was, dedicated as I, but with adifferent twist, and friendly as all get out. It was touching.

Another image, also on 12 avenue, but near all the shops and little quaint houses in the 12South neighborhood. There were all these parents with their kids cheering us on. The kids would want to high-five you as you passed and gave the most excited cheers. But what sticks out in my mind were the wide-eyed stares of the babies. Watching all the people go by and seeming mildly amused by it all.

It seemed that the first 5 miles went by pretty quickly. I always seemed to miss the mile markers, so spent most of the time not knowing how far I had gone, which was probably for the best. The last two miles were pretty tough. I hadn’t prepared for hills, didn’t really realize how hilly the course was until a few weeks before the race, and by then it was too late. So my hips and upper thighs were feeling pretty strained when we finally looped back through downtown and started getting closer to the finish. The last 1/2 mile it started raining , and it felt amazing. Here I was, downtown running up a killer hill and here was this cool refreshing rain (that didn’t feel so great when i was finished and trying to get out of there, but that is another negative story), that felt like a god-send.  The rain mingled with my tears twice there at the end. Once was during a song: “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence. I hadn’t listened to that song in years and had on a whim, put it on my playlist the night before. When I last listened to it regularly, I was having a very difficult time – with my weight as always, and with my self-esteem. Here I was, very very much alive, and doing something I never dreamed possible. I always felt like this song was talking to God (although in the song I think there is actually a different focus, but that is what the song meant to me) and here it felt like God was saying to me, “I did it, I answered your prayer. See where you are?, how alive you are?”
The other tearful spot was of course at the finish line. I did it. Just me. It felt amazing then, and still now.


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