Half Marathon: Second Time Around

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My becoming a somewhat serious runner over the last year and a half has really shocked the hell out of my husband. 

Our conversations on this topic tend to go something like this:

Him: I just still can’t believe that YOU of all people, just told me you ran 10 miles today.

Me: Is that like a thickly-veiled compliment?

Him:  I mean…we’re talking about YOU!  You hate mornings and love pajamas and really don’t like being in a hurry to do anything.  I just can’t believe you are doing all this RUNNING…

Me:  Hmmm.  Interesting point.  Yes.  I do very much also enjoy my time as a “bathlete” (as my personal idol Glennon Doyle calls it), but I don’t know…I’m just pretty into running now.  It kind of makes me feel like a superhero. 

Friends.  If you would have told younger me I would be running 13 miles at any point in my life I would have probably responded like Aaron does now.  In 9th grade, I spent my first and last season on the high school basketball team because I HATED RUNNING SO MUCH.  And we only “ran” like 30 seconds at a time!!! 

I’ve always loved to WALK Green Lake, here in Seattle, and used to joke to my friends that I wanted to buy a “I will never run a marathon” t-shirt as sort of my own personal protest to all the runners and their souvenir t-shirts and 26.2 and 13.1 stickers.

Now those crazy people are my heroes! And I just want all their t-shirts.  I get a little starstruck talking to anyone who has run a bunch at this distance – let alone a full marathon or more. 

This morning I got to run my second half marathon with a couple of girlfriends.  We are all at different places in our running journey and it was just cool to see us there cheering each other on, yet each running mostly solo, doing “us.”  Or, as my friend Liana so aptly puts it, “Friends who run together find each other at the end of the race.”

Against my better judgment, I decided to make it my mission to “find” my super fast and accomplished runner friend Erica at the BEGINNING of this race.  We had taken off from the starting line (btw – my start could not have been clumsier – lip balm and Clif bloks flying everywhere from my unzipped and now moving waist pouch, as I fumbled with some stubborn apps on my phone – but no one was injured in my madness and eventually, off I was!) when I had the incredibly ill-advisesd idea to absolutely annihilate myself by running an 8:01 (!!) second mile in order to catch up with Erica, if only to say that we ran together for just a moment!

 SV HALF(This is super-runner, Erica.  She is the one I was chasing.)

Did I know that burning out in mile 2 was a very bad idea?  Why, yes.  Yes, I did.  In fact I talk about how incredibly important setting a sustainable pace early on is ALL THE TIME.  Did I do it anyway?  Yes.  Yes, I did.  After completing my first two miles like a bat out of hell at under 8:30/mile (for reference, my first half marathon I averaged 9:57/mile), shit kind of hit the fan. I made up for it with many miles over 9 minutes and one over 10.  I walked several times and lost all wind from my sails setting the stage for my longest, most defeated walking session when the 2:00 pacers finally passed.  It was all just so hard and demoralizing!  But I pulled it together and ground out that last mile and a half, post-pacers.  When all was said and done, I finished the run at 2 hours and 2 minutes, and my wildly irregular splits averaged out to about 9:20/mile, still much faster than my previous race. 

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(PR stands for “personal record.”  This is one of the many things I did not know two years ago.)

I had a goal today to beat 2:00 (two hours/total race time), a common benchmark goal for women at this distance.  As I achily, thirstily neared the finish line and knew for sure that had slipped through my fingers this time around, I had my own mini-Hillary Clinton moment.  I thought to myself, “I may not have shattered that highest glass ceiling, but there are a million more cracks in it!”

Running is so personal.  It’s SO mental.  It’s such a love-hate relationship.  And it’s one of the most rewarding, transformative things I’ve ever done.

The 2-hour ceiling awaits…. I guess there will just have to be a “next time.” 

PS – I used to ask myself, “If I run two half marathons, can I say I’ve run a marathon??”            

NO BETH, NO YOU CANNOT, says every marathon runner ever.

PPS – I just want to be clear that my husband, in all his disbelief of me, really is my biggest fan and most amazing support.  There’s no one I’d rather see at the finish line when I’m crying allll the ugly tears of pain and joy and relief, and he was right there today.  He’s also watching our wild children right now so I can indulge in my other love-hate relationship: writing.  He’s basically the best. 

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