After six years of half marathons, injuries, and false starts, I was just thankful to be standing at the starting line. As they played the Rocky theme song I actually started to tear up. I just felt so happy and excited to be injury free and ready to go.
I was wearing a t-shirt with my name ironed on the front, and during the last stretch of six miles or so hearing complete strangers call out my name was such a boost. I gave a triumphant fist in the air for every fan who called out "Go Dallas!" because I'm all about positive reinforcement. Despite the pain in my legs I tried to have a smile on my face.
I never cramped up and never hit the wall, which was a huge relief to me. I was prepared to walk the last three miles if I needed to -- you never know what's going to happen. I went out way too fast thanks to all the speedy half marathoners who were running with us, but I was so pumped up that I let it happen in spite of my better judgement. My hamstrings got really tight just after the half way point, and only got worse for the back stretch up Kelly Drive, but it was maneagable. With about an hour left, I just kept telling myself "I can do anything for an hour." That helped me keep my focus while putting it all in perspective.
It wouldn't have been such an amazing experience without the support of my friends and family. I had such a crew of enthusiastic fans, including my dad who dutifully waited for me at mile 24 like I asked him to, forgoing the opportunity of seeing me at the finish. I spotted him in his yellow coat from about a hundred yards away and started to wave furiously. I crossed my fingers he wasn't wearing his crocs because I wanted him to run with me for a bit, and thankfully he was in his running shoes. We ran together for a little under a mile, which was a huge boost to my mental state and my pace. He called Mr. SevPrez and my mom, who was home with a case of the shingles (poor mom) and let them know he was right by my side and I was coming down the home stretch. A cowbell jingled in his pocket. After we saw the 25 mile marker he pulled away. I tried to turn the pace up even more. I saw Mr. SevPrez just around the bend, and he told me my brother and his family were up on the left.
Seeing them was the wind beneath my wings. They are our best friends, and it meant so much to me that they made the trip to be there for me. My brother was a cross-country star and still inspires me with his running (remember the JFK 50-miler I told you about way back when I started this blog?) and I think I've always wanted to be a runner because of him. His daughter was on his shoulders, and she just makes anyone feel like a million bucks. I pointed right at her, saw the finish line up ahead, and sprinted it in. I have never felt better at the end of a race -- even though I thought I would probably trip over the timing mat at the finish and possibly hurl. I didn't, and it was a perfect moment. 4:14:07. Cross it off the list. I'm already setting my sights on the next big thing.
|Spaghetti & Muppets at Marra's in South Philly was the perfect prerace meal.|