When I arrived at my first half-marathon, I didn’t think I was nervous.
Maybe it was because I had been having a ball. The past few days had been pretty awesome, after all.
My family even came to Boston to see me, adding to the fun.
When I think about it, though, I bet I was pretty nervous.
But I managed to keep that nervousness down, mainly because my family was with me. At my insistence, we arrived at the start zone an hour early. We spent the time taking photos and messing around.
The race was set to begin at 7AM. The closer it got to the start time, the more crowded it became.
Finally, only a few minutes remained before the start.
That’s when it truly hit me. Today was the day. The time was now. This half-marathon that I had spent the last 5 months training for was about to happen.
The runners lined up, the national anthem was sung, and then…
There were so many runners that for the first minute, I didn’t move at all. Finally, the crowd surged to a walk. Then a jog. Then, finally…
Off I ran, joining the stampede of runners through downtown Boston.
Dozens of people strode past me, but I didn’t care. I knew from the start that I was slow. I would finish this race at my own pace, no matter how fast people were!
Each mile had a timer set up, allowing the runner to see how much time had elapsed. I guess I was letting the people around me set the pace, since I was running a lot faster than usual.
Alright, I’ll confess: when I started training back in January, my pace was around 11:30 per mile– really freakin’ slow. By the end of my training I had reduced it to 10:30 per mile. But now I was running a good 30 seconds faster than that, out of nowhere. What’s the deal?
Maybe it was all the runners around me, maybe it was the adrenaline. Whatever it was, at each mile marker, I didn’t seem to be slowing down. I pushed on without pause.
Well, ok. I did stop at the many water stations set up along the route. Volunteers handed out cups of water and Gatorade. However, there were not enough trash cans to keep up with the water consumption. Cups were simply tossed aside in massive piles.
In spite of these stops, I kept up the pace.
I kept it up even as my legs started to burn.
And as my breathing grew steadily heavier.
By the tenth mile, I had pretty much had it.
The maximum I had run before the half-marathon was 12 miles. So when I reached that 13th, final mile, I was out.
But at the end, I had a surprise waiting for me.
My family was waiting faithfully for me at the finish line, that I knew. Since they couldn’t follow me during the rest of the race, I tried to keep them updated. I kept my phone with me during the race (to listen to music, the ultimate essential for running) and also sent them periodic texts.
As a result, they were ready for me.
My sister ran along the last 200 yards or so of my half-marathon, taking photos like a madwoman. My mom and dad were lying in wait as well.
I was too exhausted to model for long, though. My sister got plenty of unflattering shots.
Though amused, I didn’t slow down for my family. I couldn’t. Not after running for so long. I had to finish strong!
And thus, in 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 20 seconds, I finished my first half-marathon.
At the finish line, there were bagels, chips, and bananas waiting for us.
And, of course, our medals.
It was hard to believe that this run– this darned half-marathon that I trained for months to complete– was actually over. I had actually finished, with a personal best! I met up with my family, who congratulated me.
Completely and utterly sore, I limped triumphantly to the car, where I proceeded to lay on the ground.
A week later, I’ve finally gotten over my soreness. I still carry that little medal wherever I go, though. I’m the girl who hated running, after all. I’m the one who could barely run a single mile a few years ago. I know, I know: half-marathons have been done so many times before, by people much faster than I am. But to me, that little medal– it’s kind of a big deal.