|We're reflective and barely awake in the metro station.|
In terms of race prep, I'm pretty sure I broke every single rule engrained in me since I first started running three years ago:
- I ran only three 400m sprints during the four months before the race.
- I got only two hours of sleep the night before.
- I ate chocolate chip cookies for breakfast... washed down with a diet soda.
- I started hydrating on the metro ride to the starting line with the only bottle of water I had consumed in days. Yikes!
- I wore shoes that were a half size too small and had never traveled more than six miles... ages ago.
|Singing along to Icona Pop's "I Love It" |
with 14,999 other amazing women before the race
At the starting line, I was nervous and had no idea what to expect. I already had to use the bathroom again and was regretting my poor choice in shoes. My only race strategy was to try to stay positive and take in the entire experience.
Given my lack of training, I deliberately maintained a significantly slower than usual pace throughout the entire race. I honestly expected to start run/walking after three miles but was amazed that I still felt great long after that point. I made it to mile marker 8 before I finally started walking the water stops.
Throughout the course, I kept reminiscing about the last time I had run by a particular milestone in previous races over the years. I haven't been back on the streets of Washington, D.C., since the Marine Corps Marathon in 2011. I couldn't help but laugh when we passed through an area I vividly remember as mile 17 of the MCM. (I know this because I texted a friend that day, "Oorah from mile 17 of the MCM!")
Around mile 9, my bladder was not happy with me at all, so I finally stopped at a porta potty. I've never done this in any race before, including MCM. After a few minutes of standing around, I got frustrated and returned to the race course, cursing myself for wasting so much time... and I still had to pee!
At mile 10, I finally hit the infamous "wall." My knees were killing me from the continuous pounding of my feet against the pavement, and my ill-fitting shoes were giving me blisters. Even so, I was happy to be right where I was each step of the way. I prayed for God to give me the strength to push through the pain to finish strong and with a smile still on my face.
And finish strong I did... with my hands raised high in the air, fist-pumping as I crossed that finish line. Then I burst into tears. I couldn't help seeing this race as a metaphor for all of the struggles in my life recently. All of the odds were against me in this race, some of them admittedly self-imposed. I wasn't prepared and was afraid of what might happen once I got out there. I was terrified of failing, but I refused to give up or let other people's negativity (my own included) deter me.
Of course, I was quickly distracted from my emotional finish as soon as I saw those little blue boxes with the pretty white bows. I also couldn't wait to put on my finisher T-shirt, which is absolutely the best-fitting and most attractive shirt I have ever gotten in a race.
|How's that for race bling?|
Somehow, with absolutely zero running and minimal CrossFit in the past four months, I managed to add only 13 minutes to my previous half marathon PR. Not only does this serve as a testament to CrossFit, it also assures me that I would have easily PRed if I had adequately trained and prepared.
Since my experience with the Nike Women's Half Marathon, I have rediscovered my long-lost love for running. More importantly, I have more confidence than ever in my own athleticism and in my ability to conquer whatever life throws at me... whether I am ready for it or not.