“Running has taught me that I am capable of more than I ever imagined.”
That was written on the back of a woman’s shirt at the Vortex Half-Marathon this past week. She had full knee braces on each leg, a big sweatband around her head and a slow jog with just a bit of a limp. Needless to say, I felt an immediate kinship with her. She was my kind of people.
Her shirt resonated with me because running has indeed shown me that I can do the unimaginable. I think back to walking my very first 5k several years ago and I certainly never would have imagined that I would be setting out to run my fifth half-marathon this year. More than that, running has taught me that I can dream big and set some scary goals and that somehow, someway, my body will make it happen.
The race this past weekend was a big one for me because I was seeking redemption.
As you may recall, my last attempt at a trail run half-marathon went horribly wrong. I found myself miles down a dusty trail in the middle of nowhere, dizzy and puking in the bushes. A combination of being at high altitude, taking a new medication with dizziness as a side effect and running too fast because I was a little too cocky for my own good led to one of the most miserable experiences of my life.
I wanted a do over…a chance to prove to myself that I could do it.
I started this half-marathon with my friend Michelle and her dog Denali.
Michelle and Denali soon left me in the dust…or to be more exact, they left me in the mud. I’ve never seen so much mud.
My feet would slip and slide with each step, threatening to leave me face down in the mud if I got at all distracted. It took nearly an hour just to traverse the first two miles!
At around mile three I came upon a split in the road.
Turn left for the half-marathon, turn right for the 10k. A choice between 3 more miles or 10 more miles. I was sorely tempted to cut the race short. The first three miles had taken well over an hour to complete…what if the remaining miles continued to be a mud bog?
But I wanted my chance at redemption – and the only way to achieve that was to slog through 10 more miles of mud if necessary.
The trail took runners past the fish hatchery located in the middle of the Milo McIver State Park. I got to know this area well because I missed a turn along the running course and ended up running past the fish hatchery again! That little mistake added not quite a mile to my route. I learned an important lesson about not zoning out and always watching for trail markers during races like this.
Between the mud and getting lost it took me a long time to cross the finish line. But I made it!
Although I finished almost dead last (they were already packing up the celebratory beer and chili stand!), I finished. And best of all I didn’t have to stop to puke in the bushes along the way this time…so there’s that!