Running 13 miles was definitely never a life goal of mine. However, I just ran the Lincoln Half Marathon last Sunday, so I guess somewhere along the lines it became one! I would say it all started in the Fall of 2016. I had just graduated from college, and was motivated to get in shape and become more active since I had more time! Now I wouldn’t say I was a complete couch potato during college. I danced for the UNL Ballroom Dance Company, and I worked 2 jobs that relied heavily on staying on your feet, lifting heavy things, and simply moving around! I would also go to the gym here and there and my workout would consist of running for 20 minutes on the treadmill, doing some weight lifting, and then calling it a day. However, staying consistent with my workouts was the hard part.
Since homework wasn’t an applicable excuse anymore, I forced myself to do a workout most days after I graduated. Luckily, since I was pretty active in college, the routine workouts weren’t too difficult to get through. Running 20 minutes on the treadmill turned into running 40 minutes and then doing the stairs machine for 10 more minutes before lifting weights. Running on the treadmill in general turned into running on the track or outside. Before I knew it, I was running 3 miles a day, sometimes 5! One of my friends suggested that we start running outside together, and of course working out with friends is more fun, so I jumped at the chance. Once, we ran 8 miles without even planning to! Then one day, casually, he suggested we sign up for the Lincoln Half Marathon. And I was like, um, how many miles is that? He answered, “It’s just a little over 13, Heather. You can do it. We can do it together!”
Yea, about that, who is crazy enough to run 13 miles?!
Somehow, I decided that I was psycho enough and we signed up to run the half marathon. Regardless of all the excitement and plans to train together, my friend underestimated the time commitment involved in finishing a Master’s Thesis. Therefore, slowly but surely, he disappeared from the workouts with me. We also had a conflict between one another (that’s a story for another time) that distanced us, so before I knew it, I was left without a running buddy for the half! Despite all that, I had developed a good friendship with my co-worker, Adrienne, who coincidentally was also a runner! It didn’t take long for me to convince her that she too was a psycho and should run a half marathon for the first time, and before I knew it we had made solid plans to run the 13 miles together! I am so glad that we decided to tackle this challenge together, because without her, I am sure I would not have finished the race! Because you see, she is much savvier at the ‘let’s run long distances for fun thing’ than me. She has an app that tracks pacing, a Spotify playlist for running, and even a running armband to hold the phone that has the pacing app and running music! All the while, I just use the clock app that my iPhone already comes with, listen to the same 5 songs on repeat that I illegally downloaded from a sketchy site, and use my hand to hold my phone… Luckily, another friend let me borrow their iPhone armband to use on the day of the race, and I downloaded a bunch more songs. So clearly, I was prepared.
Adrienne and I didn’t know the magnitude of the marathon until we arrived at the starting line. There were thousands and thousands of runners there (over 13,000 this year I believe). We also were unsure of when we could start the run, because the information packet given prior clearly stated that certain colored bibs start at certain times. However, it seemed like all colored bibs were lining up and going at any time, so we followed suit and prayed that we wouldn’t get stopped! Fortunately, we crossed the starting line without any hiccups and we were off!
The first 7 miles were surprisingly great! Many supporters lined the running trail with posters, smiles, bells, and screamed encouragement. Some of my favorite signs read, “If Trump can run, so can you!” and “You just have 1,000,000 more miles to go!” I also enjoyed clapping the hands of several young kids who had their arms outstretched awaiting a high five! Another thing I really enjoyed was approaching the water tables, drinking the water, and then throwing the cups on the ground. It felt like a symbol of accomplishment, like ‘Yea I have made it this far to sip this water from this cup!’
The run became difficult around mile 8, however. I blame it on the fact that I had never run more than 8 miles, and that miles 8 and 9 were on a bike trail that bordered the highway, meaning that not very many supporting friends and family were there to cheer us on at that point. Though, we made it through… and then came The Hill up 20th street, which apparently, is known for being the worst, toughest part of the race. I had to walk up that. We were greeted with slices of banana and oranges at the bottom of that nasty portion though, and eating the fruit definitely boosted my energy! Once the Capital Building was in sight, I had high hopes of finishing the dang thing. I just kept telling myself that I had climbed a 14,000-foot mountain before, therefore I could definitely run 13 miles. Plus, I had a super, supportive friend running right along-side me, so there was no way I could not finish the run! As Memorial Stadium neared, running became easier, and before I knew it Adrienne and I crossed the finished line!
I was then hit with a moment of disbelief that I had just ran 13 consecutive miles and that I didn’t die. Besides every muscle in my body screaming at me, I felt great. I felt like I could do anything! I can take on the world!!!!!!! …And then I tried to walk. Which is when I realized, I could barely walk.
Never mind feeling unstoppable.
I was surprised we didn’t keel over right there at the finish line, instead we just died after getting our medals, water and fruit. After rehydrating, re-energizing, and lying on the best hard, cold asphalt of my life, Adrienne and I took many obligatory ‘We did it!’ photos. The walk back to my apartment was tough to say the least. We experienced what it might feel like when we are 80 years old and must walk at a super slow pace. After much needed showers, we ordered a humongous Yia Yia’s pizza and watched hours of New Girl.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
My battle wounds include two huge blisters on my toes, and intense soreness in my feet, lower back, thighs, and booty muscles! I was surprised to realize that hiking up one of the tallest mountains in Colorado provides more aches and pains than running 13 miles. …Maybe I need to run a full marathon to reach that caliber of discomfort. Ha! Just kidding! That’s not going to happen, for a really long time! Nonetheless, despite all the complaints about the physical suffering, there is this unexpected feeling of strength and power that comes with the pain. The sensation is kinda odd, kinda out of place, but just bizarre enough to convince me to run another half marathon again!
Until next time,