My First Half Marathon, The Big Sur Half Part 2

 If you missed Part 1 CLICK HERE  

WHAT A BAD ASS (Seriously though, that is the face of a badass champion woman.)

RACE DAY. Nerves. Intimidation. Lots of intimidation. Fear. Cold. Dark. Oh right, 5:00 A.M. is really dark. Kevin is by my side. I’m so glad he’s here with me.

Am I hydrated enough? Did I eat enough? Is there food on the way? I hate running when I’m hungry. I’ve never tried Gu. I heard a rumor it, um, runs right through you. Ack, won’t risk it. I’ll shove a granola bar in my pants. I have pockets.

Everyone here looks so ready for this. I can’t help sizing up the other Corral H folks. There’s so much running gear. I start questioning whether I’m ready. The gear I have is my pants with pockets. It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s just another run. One foot in front of the other.

Corral time. I’m not ready! I’m not ready! I’m cold! My limbs are cold! My ankle still hurts. It’s been hurting on runs for the past two weeks. I probably won’t break it trying to run 13.1 miles but what IF? WHAT IF? Freak accidents happen!

Too late. The race is starting. A nice gal from Southern California is chatting with me and I can feel myself calming down. Slowly we march towards the start. It feels like we’re being herded to slaughter. “You must now run 13.1 miles.” DON’T THINK LIKE THAT! 

And then it starts and I think: I know this. I know this. One foot in front of the other. That girl just jetted past you? Doesn’t even worry me. This is me versus me. One foot in front of the other. Look up, look at this cool city. Look how nice the road is—no potholes. 

Miles one through four fly by. At least, I can’t really remember them. This feels good, I know this. Five, six, it’s getting a little tougher. Seven, seven point seven, yay it’s time to turn around! Nine through ten—hell-ish. At some point I realize I haven’t even been thinking about my ankle. It’s hurting a bit, but the kind of pain that I know I can ignore. Eleven through 12—starting to feel good again. Almost there. Hell, I warm up to this! 13. 13.1 And I find I’m sprinting towards the finish line with a huge smile on my face. IT’S OVER!!! I high fived my mom, I think! My legs are shaking; I don’t know anyone in the crowd around, ooh, a line for snacks! Someone puts a medal on my neck. Post-snack line, I see my family waiting for me and I go to hug them, crying a little, mouth full of apple. It’s over and I finished.

The best thing about race day is the water & Gatorade folks and their high fives. I don’t like carrying things on runs so that was a huge treat for me. My biggest takeaway is: if you train, you’ll finish. I was hoping the adrenaline and excitement of Race Day would push me to a new personal record. That didn’t happen. It was just another day of running, only I’d upped the mileage and I finished with a split mile comparable to my training time. The hydration stations, high fives and ocean views were great but those external factors didn’t magically make me run faster. I realized (as Kelly wisely one said) if you want to run faster, you have to run faster. If I want to run faster, it’s not the magic of race day or that 50th high five that’s going to get me to run faster, it’s me. 

So my next goal? To run faster. Maybe another half—I’ll have to see how my ankle heals. But I’m still running. I think I’m chemically bound to it at this point. Never thought I’d say that! 

Chasin’ that runner’s high,

Katharine