I just completed my first half marathon this past Saturday. The Country Music Rock n'Roll Half Marathon that is. I still can't believe I'm saying that (someone pinch me, please). Now to some of you that may not seem like such a magnificent accomplishment but for a girl like me, the girl that's lost 85 pounds in the last few years and would've fallen over dead laughing if you'd told her she was going to run a half marathon some day - it was a pretty BIG DEAL. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually....it took it all and I have a feeling that my life is never going to be the same again.
After 5 months of training I have to tell you that I've never been so happy to see a landmark (in this case LP field) or cross a finish line in my life. The start of the race was fantastic <insert sarcasm> - waking up at 4:20am, catching a shuttle bus while garbed in rain ponchos and glad wrap-and-seal around our ankles to keep our feet dry. Yeah, um. sexy. And then of course there was the standard 40-minute wait at the porta-potty watching all the other cute little tiny-something runner girls prancing around in make-up, coiffed hairstyles and perfume while you feel like a frumpy mess and wonder exactly when your moment will come...
Our McGuyver Get-up to Stay Dry
But then that magical moment happens where you remember why you are here and have butterflies in your stomach. Suddenly you're standing in line with 30,000 other people waiting for your turn to cross the line in waves and adrenaline takes over - at least for the first 4 miles anyways. And just as I was getting tired and needing motivation to keep going, I look up and there were my wonderful parents (who had flown in all the way from Puerto Rico) and two nieces to cheer me on and give me a hug at mile 6 & 8. They have no idea how much that meant. No idea.
Getting ready to start in the corral with Lindsay
Oh, but it gets so much better: the storms. That's right. I failed to tell you that Friday night, there was talk of calling off the race altogether because of severe weather (as in hail, strong winds, tornados). However, mother nature decided to push it back to the afternoon instead (or so we were told) and at first it seemed like the race was going off without a hitch. Insert mile 9. It starts to rain. Then mile 10 the rain is pelting down, which is oh so not convenient given my legs and body are incredibly tired and ready to start giving out on me. Hit mile 10.5 and the policeman shouts out "I hate to be the bad guy folks, but I just got word that if you want to finish the race you better start booking it." All I could think was "um, hello dude....do you not see my legs pushing me as fast as they can go?" Mile 11.5 - I look to the sidelines and see an event car race up and a guy with "staff" on his sweatshirt jump out of the car and start talking with the policeman in exaggerated hand motions. Not good. That's when the tears start coming to my eyes and I start praying. Hard.
And that's when the real race began - the race with my mind...to keep myself going mentally and pushing harder than I've ever pushed before. Because by this time it is now thundering and lightning. With small pellets of hail appearing now and then. I'm now running up mile 12 - I say running "up" because it is literally a massive winding hill. Into the wind. All the while not even knowing if I would even be allowed to finish the course or if by some miracle I did if they'd have already shut everything down before I got there. At this point I shut down my iPhone playlist and headphones and started repeating to myself over and over the words from the apostle Paul in the Bible, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course..." I told myself that quitting was not an option and then thought about what my mom had always told me "You're in a marathon, you can't quit now." And that made me laugh because for the first time in my life I really was in a marathon. Bet she never would've dreamt that when using her favorite phrase!
Finally I crested at the top of the hill and was able to get a glimpse of LP field and the finish line. As I neared the finish line on the longest 1.1 mile I've run so far, I had to keep choking back the tears - partially from relief, partially from the need to breathe to finish the race. But finally, I did it. I, Kristi, the girl who never thought it could be done did it. I crossed that finish line with tears in my eyes. And I got the medal. And I hardly hurt the day after (true signs that training pays off). And I ate as much homemade comfort food my sister-in-law made for me as I wanted that night...enjoyed that immensely.
My Half-Marathon Medal
The end? Not hardly. This is just the beginning! I've still got another 60 pounds to lose and signing up for the January 2011 Phoenix Half Marathon this week and dreaming about this one in Paris! The past five months have taught me so much about myself - it's revealed my weaknesses, my insecurities, my frustrations and character flaws but it's also convicted and motivated me with the realization that I really CAN do this. I still have so many things I want to improve on with myself. Difference is, now I know in a much more intimate way that with the Lord's help I really CAN do what seems like the impossible. And be a better person for it - both spiritually and physically. Life is just beginning and I.can't.wait. for the journey ahead.
What's It's Really All About: Earning the Right for The Car Sticker Moment
And to all those people in my life like Lindsay and Susan, Daniel, Lori and my parents....I couldn't have done it without you. You held up my hands and spirit during those moments when I didn't believe in myself. The greatest lesson I learned through all this was how much people are willing to support you when you are willing to help yourself. You just need the courage to start. And ladies, we're really bad at that. It just takes one step - I believe in you! It's something I won't forget.
After the Race, Daniel, Me, Lindsay & David