Can you believe a year ago I was just starting to run? I remember those early mornings where I could only run 1-3 minutes at a time before I needed to walk or sometimes even quit. I remember the 5K’s at Komen(year 1 and 2), The Gift of Life 5K, and even the local races like the lightening bug race. I remember the achy legs and the dreadful walk up and down the stairs just to go to bed. I remember it was rough and now I am reflecting back on a 13.1 mile run that may have been the most rewarding run I’ve had thus far.
I thought the best way to commemorate this event was to of course reflect on the run itself and offer up some real truths…
The run was well so tough and so extremely rewarding that it is honestly hard to balance two such very different emotions. I was there with three very inspirational friends and a friend’s dad that offered up great advice and was a real motivator. So Ashley and Ann headed to downtown Akron with me at 6:00 in the morning. When we got there we arrived- top floor of the parking garage in the cold air and headed toward the meeting place. By some miracle I overheard a voice say (yes with 15,000 people there) “I tried to call Jaci” and like BAM Jen and her dad were standing right behind us in the 10:30 pace group. How we managed to find each other in all of those people is what I would typically call impossible so I can only assume it was fate.
We took off on the course with fireworks in the air and tears in my eyes. It was such an overwhelming feeling that I honestly had tears in my eyes as we took off because I feel like I have been thinking about this event for months and for it to actually be there was such a crazy but wonderful feeling.
I would say the first 4 miles were just full of adrenaline and fun. Because I had completed a lot of 5K’s over the past year I was 100% confident that I could run the 3 miles so I was just having fun and taking my time at a pretty solid 11 min/mile pace. Mile 7 was a steady incline up hill and was when I really started to feel my legs start to tremble. It was pretty much a full mile of just oh my goodness when is this torture going to end. And like most things, the pain came to an end when we leveled out around mile 8. Now let’s not forget about mile 4-7… those miles were truly about my body. I really tried to concentrate on everything going on- my feet putting one front in front of the other, my arms pumping but not too much in an attempt to “chi run” and my hips working on the rotation and the movement that they hadn’t felt in quite a while. It was one of those times when you kind of have that “AHA” moment and you realize what your body can actually do and while I could tell mine was going to start feeling a little sore in the near future it was truly a cool feeling/realization to come to. So after mile 8 leveled out we were really on the home stretch. My legs were TIRED especially my right hamstring and it was getting almost impossible to ignore. I didn’t even say it outloud to Ann though who was trucking along beside me because something about saying it out loud made it too real for me. I passed a sign right around mile 9 that read “Sure it hurts, but it’s not getting worse. Keep going.” And that sign was right! It wasn’t that my legs hurt any worse at mile 9 than they did at mile 7 it was a steady pain and while that doesn’t sound ideal it was better than it getting worse and worse as the miles went on. That sign may have saved me.
Or maybe it was the guy with the Obama mask on standing outside his house waving at people. That may have saved me too.
So as we hit mile 10 the first thing that popped into my head (and probably most of those around me) was… Just a 5K left and I can do that! Well that was the longest and perhaps the most painful 5K I have ever been in. I had to really mentally tell myself that I was strong and that I could finish this thing and knowing that if I finished it I would accomplishment one of my life goals or “bucket list” item if you will kept me going.
Until we finally hit that sign that said 1 mile left. Realizing that we had been at a steady 11 min/mile pace for the entire run made it that much easier to just keep going. One foot in front of the other is what I kept repeating in my head. You can do it Jaci are the words I kept telling myself. The mile was long but it was the weirdest mile I have ever experienced. It was like the last mile of a stage in my life. A stage in my life where I only dreamed of being a “runner.” The type of runner that could wake up one morning and go complete the Akron Half Marathon. The type of runner that could do more. Hell, I was a runner that last mile and every single mile before it. The miles a year ago- I was a runner. The miles 4 months ago- I was a runner. And now I’m a runner that did a half marathon.
While that last mile was a mile I’ll never forget the best part of the race had to be the turn into the stadium where the finish line was. The road was hard for 13 miles, the people cheered and we made it through, but that was nothing like the last few steps of that marathon. As I rounded the corner into the stage hand in hand with Ann I went numb. My entire body went numb. I was so overwhelmed with joy at the amount of people on the field, in the stands, and surrounding us with smiles and cheers that it no longer mattered that I was sweaty and gross. It didn’t matter that my legs hurt or that my hand had fallen asleep a mile before. All that really mattered was that I did.
I completed a half marathon. I completed a half marathon in 2 hours 27 minutes and 33 seconds. I completed a half marathon in which I RAN EVERY SINGLE STEP of that way. I, the girl that could barely run a mile just a year ago, completed a half marathon.
I did. And I want to do it again.
But what about the real truth? It sounds great right- I cried, I got a medal and a sweat hat, and I accomplished a goal I set for myself. That is all great news. But what about the rest?
It was tough. It was really tough for me. If I had to do it over I would NOT have scheduled a half marathon just 2 weeks after my wedding and days after I returned from my honeymoon. I would have trained harder- longer- and I would have ran it faster and harder. You have to WORK to complete these types of goals. At least I do. 13.1 miles DOES NOT come easily to this girl. You have to work. You have to work HARD. And trust me I know that is it TIME CONSUMING and sometimes you just DON’T FEEL LIKE IT but you HAVE to do it. And when you do it..
It is SO SO worth it.
Training was hard. I had to give up things to go run in the mornings. I had to get up earlier than I wanted on the weekends. I had to sweat uncontrollably. I had achy legs and used more heating pads and iced than I ever had before. But when I crossed that finish line NONE of that stuff mattered anymore. What mattered was the feeling I had knowing I had gone after something I REALLY wanted.
I accomplished it. My legs took me 13.1 miles. The support from my family and friends took me 13.1 miles. My mind took me 13.1 miles. But more importantly my heart took me 13.1 miles.
And while it is not ready quite yet, I believe it can take me 13.1 more.