In case you're just tuning in, my friend Shannon (from Sweet Stella's) and I thought that since we were Ambassadors for Forest City Road Races, that it would also be a good idea to run the half marathon. I mean...how hard could it be?! We'd run 10k before...so it should be just fine. Cue injuries for both myself and Shannon and a pretty nasty Canadian winter. Needless to say, my training left something to be desired. But, I was determined to do it. Shannon and I had, essentially dared each other to run 13 miles and we were hell-bent on fulfilling that promise. And we SO did!
This past Sunday I picked up Shannon at 7:15 am and we headed downtown to meet our destiny. Thankfully, I mis-judged the amount of time it would take us to get parked, ditch our belongings and get to the start line. There was only a few minutes to spare once we had our bibs on, watches set and our final equipment adjustments complete. I just remember saying:
"Oh SHIT! I need to tie my shoes! I haven't tied my shoes!"
It was a mad dash to the bathroom and the starting line. There was no time for nerves or fear. Only time to run. Right before the horn blew, I hugged Shannon (who was as equally petrified as me) and yelled "We're DOIN IT!" And with that, I was off. As we circled the park, I saw what would be the finish line and started welling up. Yup, I cried at the start of my race; the start of something incredible.
The course was sort of this asymmetrical figure 8 through downtown London. The first 5k were a breeze. I kept a close eye on my watch as I had heard of too many people givin' it for the first half of the course, only to tank on the second half because they were burned out. First 5k in 30 minutes - that was just where I wanted to be. Then somewhere around 7k, I started thinking 'What am I doing? Why did I think this was a good idea?' But then at 10k, I had gotten through some of that doubt and was sitting at 1:01.
And then 13k. Lucky number 13! It was like a switch was turned on; a very angry switch in my knee. I went from feeling good, confident and strong to panicking that I was injured and wouldn't be able to finish. My left knee started with this pain...a pain I had never felt before, not even on my long runs. So I started having to walk and stop occasionally in an attempt to 'crack' it. But nothing seemed to help and in fact, it continued to get worse.
I had thoughts of DNF and I was replaying my injury in November and the therapist telling me that I shouldn't have run through that type of pain. But I kept going. I remember turning on to Windemere and seeing this group of kids cheering the runners. And as I passed they all had their hands out for a high-five. As I ran past, I slapped each of their little hands and tried to hold back tears as I pictured my kids waiting and cheering for me at the finish line.
Essentially, the last 8k were brutal. Not only physically, but mentally. The thought of having to drop out, the thought that I might actually be seriously injuring myself and accepting the fact that my high hopes for a killer finish time would not be realized, really took a toll. But once I saw the 18k marker that all changed. 18k was the longest I had run prior to this race and I knew I was in the home stretch.
Once the finish line was in view my pace just started to sky rocket and before I knew it I was sprinting the last 500 m blasting past a bunch of people in front of me to cross the finish line.
In that moment, I had gone from doin' it to DID IT! And it was incredible!
But when I try to replay those final seconds it's all kind of a blur. I don't know if it was the adrenaline pumping or just blocking out the pain from my knee, but I know was it was amazing!
Now I didn't break any records and most seasoned runners would find my time laughable. But I don't really care. I did it. And that's all that matters. A friend on Twitter totally nailed it with "that's a HM fully owned with your name... #Awesome #WTG" It's mine, and nothing will ever change that!
So what's next? Well, so far it looks as though my knee is not as bad as I thought...in fact it's feeling pretty good right now. (I may have even been Googling 25k races while icing it on Sunday!) And in 6 weeks it'll be Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon with non-other than my partner in crime - Shannon!