If I’ve learned anything from that race it’s that, like comparing children, it shouldn’t be done.
I have three boys from the same gene pool and the only similarities they share is that they are male.
The similarity between my first half and my second half is that they were both 13.1 miles. Although, towards the end of the second half marathon I would argue that.
Back in November 2014, I ran my first half marathon in Wilmington, NC. It was cold, but the sun was bright and I was high on the promise of my accomplishment. My pace during training had me anticipating a 3:30 finish. I finished in 3:02. My husband missed me crossing the finish line because I insisted on my time before the race.
I felt like a goddess.
March, 12th 2016 on the grounds of the Biltmore house, I crossed the finish line at 3:17.
That feeling of impending accomplishment disappeared somewhere between miles 1 and 2. Around mile 2 1/2 I sent my friend ahead. Well, I told her that if she turned around one more time to check on me, I was going to throw my water bottle at her. It was clear that this was going to be her race and I was resigned to “run” this one alone.
Looking back, I think I drank too much water. My slosh-y, gurgle-y belly was my constant companion and I ran in fear of the sag truck. I even saw it pass on the opposite side.
I ran in constant fear of failure. I was still reeling from my recent demotion and I just wasn’t going to be able to handle not finishing that race.
The volunteers manning the water stations were amazing. At mile 10, one guy held out a gloved hand piled high with Vaseline, encouraging those “in need” to “step up and don’t be shy”. It was a much needed moment of levity. I was hurting. Mentally, physically and emotionally. The wall was looming and I didn’t know how I was going to get past it.
The majority of the last mile and a half was a dirt path with large rocks in direct sunlight. I’m not sure who thought that was a good idea, but I hope they’ve been fired. Just kidding. I might have hoped then. I was in pain, ok?
I kept pushing and hobbling and I even had enough left in me to encourage the woman next to me to keep running just a few feet from the finish line. You can’t stop to walk at the end!
After that race I swore I was finished. I had no desire to put myself through that again. I didn’t run again for a month. And then I didn’t run again for another month. And another. And I almost quit the gym. I wasn’t going anyway.
I slowly lost all the endurance I’d trained so hard for.