My new year’s resolution for 2013 was simple: run a half-marathon. I’m happy to share that this past weekend, my goal became a reality: I ran the entire 13.1 miles, finished in 2:20 (which is 10.7 minutes per mile), and placed 942 out of 2000 runners. Back in February I chose to register for the Jazz Half Marathon because the proceeds went to the children’s hospital, the route went through historic New Orleans and the French Quarter, and the race was in mid-October (which meant, theoretically, the weather would be pleasant). In addition, a couple of my best friends live in the New Orleans area, so the race gave me an excuse to visit them (as if I needed one).
Running 13.1 miles is no easy feat. It hurts! Thankfully, there are people who understand this and gave up their Saturday morning to come out and cheer for the runners. I felt like a celebrity with all the “paparazzi” along the race route snapping pictures, cheering, and giving us high-fives as we ran by. People with posters that read “Why do the cute ones always run away?” and “Look behind you. You’re beating all those people!” Guys in “I don’t do marathons, only marathon runners” t-shirts. Small jazz bands playing on the sidewalk. Cops giving us encouraging words while looking out for our safety. Volunteers handing out water and Gatorade at the nine stations along the route. An old lady waving a flag. Little kids. And perhaps most touching, a woman saying “Thank you for helping the children; thank you for my child” (because all proceeds went to the children’s hospital). And I can’t forget the guys at mile 13 shouting “Half a shot for half a marathon!”, handing runners a shot of whiskey on the final stretch–gotta love New Orleans!
A little about my personal race experience: I woke up at 4am to give myself time to get coffee, eat my pre-race fuel (a bagel, banana, vitamins, trail mix), find good parking, hydrate, and stretch. While hanging out in Lafayette Square before the race, I made a new friend who had come in from Mississippi. She was awesome, and it was nice to have someone to talk to; it kept me from getting too nervous. At 7am, all 2000 runners lined up behind the start line. There was an eerie silence as everyone stood together in anticipation. Next thing I knew, we were off.
Running is as much about mental strength as it is about physical endurance. For the first 10K, I had to keep telling myself Go slow. One of the biggest pieces of advice for first-time distance runners is to not go out too fast. Running on the hard asphalt made my knees ache, so I had to tell myself to push through the pain. By the second 10K, my knees felt better (or were just numb), I had plenty of energy, and I sped up to my normal pace. People who had passed me earlier were now walking, and I passed them. Every time I began to get tired, I’d pass a paparazzi who would give me the encouragement I needed. When everything started to hurt, the Chevelle song “Send the Pain Below” came on my iPod. It’s the little things that keep you going.
Later that night, someone asked me “At what mile did you think Okay, why am I doing this?! ?” I thought about it and replied, “Ten!”. At mile 10, I started thinking about everyone who would be disappointed if I didn’t finish. I knew my faith group, who had their retreat this weekend, were keeping me in their thoughts and prayers. I knew my good friend would be waiting for me at the finish line. I knew my family would be proud. A supporter is anyone who sends helpful articles, gives words of encouragement, trains with you, or simply brings positivity to your life. My entire run, I never once thought of the “haters” (for lack of a better term); those who say Why would you want to do that?, those who are jealous or downplay your accomplishment, or anyone who directs negative thoughts and words your way. These types of people will only slow you down. I’m thankful for my supporters, and hopefully they read this and know their kindness is priceless.
The Jazz Half Marathon was so much fun, I’ve already decided that my new year resolution for 2014 will be to run a full marathon. 🙂 Any tips/advice is more than welcome. Stay tuned…