this post has been a long time coming and i admit, i have had time to outline and express all the emotions i have surrounding this race, but i do not think i was ready to rehash those three hours until a couple of days ago. this weekend, i took a vacation to North Carolina and spent time with two of my dearest friends. i felt like a refugee they were housing because i, in all honesty, hate the city in which i live and am desperate to escape all the bullshit. they fed me, we watched movies, played games, talked, listened to music, and had a generally wonderful time together. i appreciate that i have friends who welcome me so graciously into their home for an entire weekend when the world around me sucks and right now, more than ever, richmond is the epitome of suck and melancholy. unfortunately, i had to leave them and when i finally reached my exit in Kentucky after returning home yesterday, i cried because i had to re-assume my life here. i have lived in the same place for almost 13 years and i feel so suffocated. don’t get me wrong– i have some of the greatest friends here, but at some point, they are all going to leave/move on, too, and i cannot stand to be the only one still standing when the dust of our imminent scattering settles. but this race, and other happenings in my life, only stand to prove that i am a strong human being and no matter what sort of crap life throws at me time and time again, i will ultimately defeat it and still have a smile on my face. i may falter, i may experience frustrating and scary emotions, but in the end, i will be a better person for all of it. this race was a test of my commitment, my endurance, and my emotional capabilities. i am equating this race with my life right now because there have been times in the past week that i did not want to go on, just like i there were times during this race i desperately wanted to quit. i cried both during this past week and during the race; i smiled during the race and during the past week. i felt angry during both, enraged even, and frustrated. but coming back into richmond was the same as crossing the finish line of the Run the Bluegrass– it is a sign that i will go on, in both running and with my life. just as a 13.1 mile race could not finish me (completely), life and all of its overwhelmingly unfair sadness cannot defeat me either. this race is not only a parallel, but an example of my mental fortitude.
the night before the race i was absolutely terrified. i tried not to let on, but i was. i was going at it alone, i was unprepared for the course, and i was undertrained. my mind was not where it should have been; instead, i was focusing on some trivial bullshit which had infected my life throughout the day. i built myself a playlist, i set my clothing and shoes out, and i tried desperately to go to sleep. i finally woke up at 6:00am the next morning, put on my clothes, grabbed my banana and protein bar, and booked it to Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. i hit some serious traffic on Versailles road, and it took a hot minute to get inside Keeneland. eventually, i got my number (606) and got checked in, but did not have enough time to get back to my car and put my shirt inside! so, i was forced to wear the race shirt on the day of the race…which i hate more than anything. we were called to “post” by the famous bugle player, which sent chills up my spine, and then we were off! the first mile played out the way i thought it would– it was my body getting into the swing of running. the ankle that i rolled the weekend of St. Patrick’s day bothered me quite a bit; i could feel it popping as it adjusted to carrying my weight. finally, the ankle relented and i found a steady groove.
this course was no joke. within the first five minutes, i had already climbed a super ridiculous hill and while my body handled the first few well enough, i knew that by the end of this hill-heavy course that my body would be hurting. the first six miles were easy enough to handle. i passed up the first few water stations and focused on how my body felt. mile seven came and went, followed by mile 8. at this point, i was beginning to slow down exponentially. i was taking water/gatorade now and i reluctantly ate the protein bar to keep myself going, knowing the last hour and a half was going to be the worst. mile nine and mile ten were absolutely brutal, but i kept going, hoping that my body would hold out for just another forty minutes. i cried on and off throughout the race out of joy, panic, pain and terror. i was worried i would feel as though i failed myself if i had to walk, even though i went into the race knowing that running 13.1 miles without proper conditioning was asking my body for a lot. but, i kept moving, hoping adrenaline and the music of my playlist would continue to push me. then, at mile 11, my body locked up and i slowed to a walk. my feet were killing me, my back was aching, and my hip flexors were screaming because of their lack of conditioning. i ran/walked for as long as i could, honestly not knowing if i was capable of finishing the race. but, one of my friends, Katie, who was volunteering at the race, had begun walking the course to find me; when she did find me, she turned around and prepared herself to jog the rest of the way with me. because of her confidence in me and her help when i needed it most, i finished the race strong, running, the way i had started the race. as i approached the finish line, i heard cheering and to my happiness and surprise, found it was Krissie, a friend i had communicated with through DailyMile and a strong support system in my running endeavors. i crossed, grabbed a chocolate milk, and took a huge, deep breath. i had done it. i have run a half marathon.
it took me a little over three hours to finish my first half marathon, a course that was considered by many to be one of the most beautiful, yet most difficult, out of many other half marathon courses. as i crossed the finish line, i cried, recognizing the weight of the achievement. my body was so sore and stiff, but i took joy, even in that feeling, because of what i had done for my body, myself, and my confidence. i ran the first 11 miles of that course, hills and all, before i allowed myself to stop. i mentally pushed myself to keep going when i wanted to quit, and i am a better person for it.
the point in all of this nonsense and insanity is that you can do whatever you want to do if you put your mind to it, including anything fitness oriented or life oriented. there is always going to be bullshit threatening to bring you down or change the way you feel about yourself and your life, but you cannot let those obstacles crush your dreams and your actual reality. bullshit people exist, bullshit events occur, and the whole reason we live and survive is because we push through those difficult moments and find life on the other side. i found strength and courage in my half marathon and even though i am still dealing with a lot of nonsense that threatens to swallow me on a daily basis, i know deep in my heart of fucking hearts that i can and will continue to press forward to the finish line, whatever that finish line may be. keep moving, friends. anything you want is achievable and possible. stay healthy, y’all.