15K. 9.3 miles... This race has been in the back of my mind for the last few weeks. I was nervous. Really really nervous. As much as I've been training, I still didn't feel prepared. My longest training run was 6.25 miles. Should I run intervals or just power through the best I can? Should I wear my fuel belt? What should I wear? Can I add 3 miles just like that? Without practicing? I really wasn't sure. Thankfully, I have a lot of support and got a lot of advice from experienced runners.
The weather reports were calling for wind and rain. Fun. I prayed and prayed there wouldn't be any rain. When I met up with Crystal, Abby and Melissa, it was shaping up to be a nice morning. We lined up in Corral D and I was feeling good. I actually wasn't nervous anymore. I was excited. Really excited. There's just something about the start of a race. Music blasting, the DJ calling out and getting everyone pumped. You can feel the excitement in the air.
The start line was on a hill. I should have known that was an example of what was to come. For the first mile or two it seemed like every corner we turned, there was a new hill to climb. We were just over 2 miles into the race when Abby asked how I was feeling. During my training runs I struggle through the first three miles. But today? Today I felt strong. We powered through as many hills as possible and walked when we needed to.
There were people standing in front of there homes holding signs and cheering for us. Some had stereos playing and others were shaking cow bells. Abby and I tried to say thank you to as many of them as possible. As we were nearing the top of one hill, we heard one of the volunteers yelling " no walking, just running". I kind of wanted to punch her. I am sure she was trying to be encouraging but it definitely didn't come across like that!
When we hit the 10K (6 miles) I knew I was close to hitting my longest distance ever. I looked at my GPS watch again at 6.36 miles... I had just passed my personal best distance. I couldn't help but get choked up and feeling a huge sense of accomplishment. I was still feeling great but we had 3 miles left to go.
Hills, hills and more hills. We couldn't believe it. I told Abby that whoever mapped this course must have been doing their best to make us run up every hill in downtown San Diego. We were nearing yet another hill somewhere in mile 7 (I think) when we heard some guy say this was a short hill. We were relieved. Until we found out that guys was a L-I-A-R. It was actually the second longest hill of the course. Thanks for getting my hopes up dude!
We ran under a freeway overpass that was lined with makeshift "homes" that were providing some sort of shelter for a few homeless people. I think one of my favorite parts was running through that area and having a homeless man yelling " You're doing great! Keep up the good work! Keep going". Wow. God bless that man because I needed those words right about then. We were somewhere between miles 8 and 9 and I was starting to hurt. I kept trucking along with Abby at my side and I was once again overwhelmed by the distance we had already gone. 8.5 miles.. I never thought I would run 8.5 miles. I got choked up but didn't give into the flood of emotions invading my heart and mind. Crying while running is never a good idea. Makes it harder to breathe.
When we rounded that last corner I could see the finish line and hear the cheers and music. I kept my emotions in check and crossed the finish line with my friend at my side. We walked through the Gatorade and water lines. That's when I finally gave in to the overwhelming emotions. With tears in my eyes I hugged Abby and thanked her for sticking with me. After grabbing out finisher's treat of fondue, we headed back to the finish line to wait for Crystal and cheer her on.
14 months ago I started running. I thought I would do one 5K race and call it a day. Then I liked 5Ks so I figured I would stick with those. Today I accomplished something I never thought I would or could. 9.3 miles. I felt good , strong and confident through out the whole race. I am sore tonight but I have never been more proud of myself and my friends.
Crystal powered through the entire race. She hasn't been able to train like she wanted to but she went for it anyway. She tweaked her ankle in mile 7 so it was slow going the last 2.3 miles for her. I loved cheering for her as she crossed the finish line. Kind of like "yep, that's MY friend! She's awesome". Because, well, she is.
Melissa finished about 29 minutes before Abby and I. Melissa has believed from day 1 that I could do the 9.3 miles no problem. She is an amazing runner and I am proud of her for doing so well even when faced with all of those hills!
Then there's Abby... What can I possible say about Abby? She's incredible and I had a great time running with her. She pushed me, encouraged me and never once made me feel like I was slowing her down.
Ladies, Thank You for an outstanding day! I am so thankful I could share this day with the three of you. Thank You for your encouragement along the way.
I cannot tell you how important and wonderful it feels to have a support system of family, friends, a boyfriend and co-workers. I am so very thankful for each of you. The countdown to the Rock N Roll Half Marathon has begun!