175. The Hail Mary Half Mary

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”
– Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Anyone that knows me knows I am a huge Harry Potter dork.  This particular line from the end of CoS has always stuck with me, but on Sunday it was a major source of inspiration for me.

Sunday I chose to run my very first half marathon.  I can’t even begin to explain the mix of emotions I felt in the few days leading up to it.  Over the last few months I’ve made many choices that have now defined me as a runner and a half marathon finisher.

I chose to sign up for a half marathon.  This is something not many people ever do.  I wasn’t even sure it was something I would ever do.  A year ago, I never would have considered doing it.

I chose to train, and not train, for the half marathon.   Somewhere along the line, I went into serious denial.  I was overwhelmed by the idea of running 13.1 miles.  Hell, I was overwhelmed by the idea of running more than about 7 miles.  I slacked on my training.  I slacked hardcore.  I hid from my training plan.  I hid from the fact that I was signed up for this half marathon. The furthest I had run prior to Sunday was 7 miles – just a little over half the distance I needed to go. 

I chose to go pick up my packet on Saturday afternoon even though I had to drive myself into the city (which is something I hate doing) and pay $19 to park my car for less than an hour.  I could have chosen to give up right there before I even made it to the starting line.  I was so nervous going to packet pick-up I was in tears driving to McCormick Place.  I chose to text Laura for encouragement when I was on the edge of a panic attack walking to pick up my packet. 

I chose to get up at 4:00 on a Sunday morning: before the sun was up when some of my friends were just getting home from their Saturday night shenanigans.  I actually drove by people catching cabs outside of a 5am bar.  I rode the very first Orange Line train into the city that day.

I chose to start the race.  I chose to run the race.  I chose to keep going even when I wanted to give up.  I chose to run the last 3.1 miles.  I chose to cross the finish line running strong even though I felt like I had nothing left in me.

The fact that I felt so unprepared really fed into my nervousness and panic.  This is what led me to call this race the “hail Mary half mary.”  I  felt like I was throwing a hail Mary pass running this thing.  I had serious doubts about my ability to finish the half marathon.  Waiting in the starting corral, I was fighting tears and panic.  I was absolutely terrified, but I had made it this far.  I had chosen to show up; there was no turning back.  I made the choice to go it alone.  I made the choice to run the race.  I made the choice to do this for myself.  I made the choice because I knew it was what I needed to do.  I needed to prove to myself that I could do it because if I could do this, I could do anything.

I knew I would cross the finish line, but I wasn’t sure how much of the race I would actually end up running.  Going in to the race, my plan was to try a run 2 miles, walk 1 mile approach.  Once the race started I decided to take it one mile at a time and see how I was feeling.

I started really strong.  I ran the first 4 miles or so without any problems.  I knew I would be a struggle later in the race so I kept my pace a little slower than average.  Around mile 4 I fell in with the 2:45 pace group.  They were running 5 minutes and walking 1 minute which seemed like a pretty good strategy so I held with them until about mile 7.5 when I really started to struggle.  My ankles were starting to hurt; my legs were tired, and I had pretty much decided to hell with time, I just want to finish and get my ass back on the train home. 

The Denise from Ohio showed up next to me.  She asked how I was doing and started chatting with me.  She encouraged me, shared tips with me, and pretty much kept me going.  I tried to encourage her as we talked and walked together to mile 10.  I can honestly say Denise saved the day for me.  I will always be grateful to her for helping me through the hardest part of my race.  It was while I was walking with Denise, I decided I wanted to try and finish in under 3 hours.

Denise and I decided to start running again around mile 10.  My goal was to run the last 5K.  I didn’t make it the whole 3.1 miles without a few walk breaks, but I ran for 90% of that last 5K.  Over and over again, I kept telling myself it was my choice, that our choices define us.  I pulled out every mantra, and power phrase, and trick I had in my arsenal.  I remembered Denise walking next to me telling me how I was about to become part of a very small group of people to ever completed a half marathon or marathon.

Ultimately, I finished the race in exactly 3 hours.  When I signed up, I predicted my finished time to be 2:45.  Considering my lack of training, my fear going in, and everything I felt during the race, I’m extremely proud of myself for finishing in 3 hours.

I didn’t take any pictures because, honestly, I was too busy being terrified to even think about taking pictures.  I was so focused on what I needed to do.

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0 thoughts on “175. The Hail Mary Half Mary”

  1. Congrats on conquering all those fears! You’re right; it is all about choices. And now you know for the future that you can make certain choices even in the face of anxiety and panic and fear. And that you’re stronger than you may have thought 🙂

  2. Seriously great post. I know everyone always says that running is all mental, but it just never really clicked for me until recently. It really says a lot about you that you not only faced your fears but stuck with it through the end. Congrats on a great race and thank you for the inspiration 🙂

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