Up until a few days ago I had never run farther than six and a half miles at one time.
And that was only once.
I still don’t know how to exactly think of myself as a runner.
Remember my first 5K?
I have zero explanation for how this happened but at some point in the past five months or so Amanda and hannaH said they were planning to run a half marathon. We were eating dinner. I smiled at them. They talked about the women who were signing up to run it with them. I smiled some more. Made some joke wondering why they hadn’t invited me into their plans of running this half marathon. We all laughed at that silly idea and they admitted that they didn’t even consider asking me because, you know, it was running and all.
I have no memory of anything after that.
Somehow and in some manner I not only signed up (paid actual money) to run a half marathon, I think I cajoled a handful of other friends to run it with me.
It sort of took on a life of its own.
And those women – goodness – I was so impressed. They trained. They ran. They timed themselves and challenged themselves. They cross trained. They ate well. They maintained a running log and a routine.
I downloaded the RunKeeper ap and I felt guilty when I ate extra desserts and I eventually bought a new pair of pseudo running shoes to replace my seven-year-old Keen hiking/running shoes.
And then suddenly, last weekend was the big moment. The race. The real deal. A half marathon. What? Who was I?
Do you know how long a half marathon is? Yeah, well. It’s really long to just run some place. Like – to just go from Point A to Point B on your own two feet.
And there’s so much to write and so much to say about it, but do you know what was really the best?
The people. The women I ran with. (I mean, they ran faster than me so I didn’t really run with most of them. But, in spirit – I was running with them. At their pace. My spirit was faster than my feet.)
The weekend was full of laughter and friendship and conversation and the feel of comfort and camaraderie and that was all just So Much Good.
I didn’t run the entire time. My body laughed at me when I tried. I didn’t finish in some awesome time or win the plate that the speedy racers won. (A plate? Yep. I mean, if it had been made of pottery I might have run faster for it. Race Gift Planners – We just ran like THIRTEEN miles, give us something useful AND inspiring! A steak dinner. A tank of gas. A kiln to make our own plates. I don’t know.)
But I finished.
Five months ago this idea sounded legitimately impossible. I didn’t think I could do it. My friends didn’t event think I’d want to try. I’m not even sure why I DID try.
But I did try. I tried something that I thought I could not do.
And then I did it.
(You know the implications here are gigantic.)
It was that little voice just whispering to me, “Yes, you can.”
Want to know what that little voice sounded like?
It sounded like the voice of my friends.
The people who ran beside me all those months on those cold mornings when bed sounded oh-so-much-more-appealing.
And, particularly, the voice of a generous friend who I somehow coerced into running this half marathon by my side.
I do not exaggerate when I say this: I would never have finished that race if I had been running alone.
I know my friend Myra could have run faster than me. She could have run longer than me. She could have kept running when my knee said I should stop running.
But she didn’t.
Like this happy and encouraging shadow, she just stayed right there with me. Saying “yes, you can” in a hundred different ways.
And so when we were nearing the end and we reached this bridge, a crazy thing happened.
We could see the finish line. We could see the people lined up watching and cheering. I knew my kids were in that mix of fans. We had to turn a corner, just out of view of the finish line, before we could make our last dash to cross the end and hear our names called out.
At the corner Myra and I were both remarking about how we didn’t think we could do this, and here we were – doing this.
And there I was – like.. uh-oh. I think I’m crying.
Because I kind of was.
I didn’t even know why.
Except. Maybe I do now. (Maybe I did then.)
I bit my lip to bring myself back around because I didn’t want to be crying when I ran across the finish line. I wanted to be smiling.
But they weren’t tears of pain (even though my pathetic little knee couldn’t take the extra surprise miles on its under-trained life). They were absolutely tears of another nature. Tears of – you know, this was incredibly hard. I am stoked that it is over. I am amazed that I was in one town thirteen miles ago and I’m in another town now. I did that. I ran that far. I thought it was Too Hard. I thought a half marathon was for Real Runners. But here I am, standing (kind of) at the finish line and my own two tired feet carried me that distance.
My own feet and a lot of good good words and steady encouragement and friendship.
In the aftermath we ate pizza and sat really still and watched a movie and ate more food and felt like we really earned whatever we chose to consume that evening.
So here’s to conquering what seems unconquerable!
To running half marathons when you feel convinced you’re just a 5K kind of girl!
To saying “yes, you can” when everything in you wants to say the opposite.