I did it! I finished my first half marathon! That. Was. Amazing. It was also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Mentally and physically.
There were some factors out of my control that were working against me for this run: unexpected humidity and allergies. The humidity KILLED me. I couldn’t stop feeling thirsty, so I kept drinking at the aid stations, but felt the water and gatorade just sloshing around in my stomach more and more with each mile. I also felt like I was running through thick air, while my allergies weren’t allowing me to breathe properly through my nose-horrible combo in everyday life…MISERABLE when trying to run!!
I hit a major wall around mile 8. If it weren’t for my amazing friends jumping and screaming and holding up signs for me at that exact point I think I would have mentally broken down. I saw them and it put me in a new state of mind. I suddenly remembered “I can do this.” Mile 9 came and so did major side cramps in my stomach (yes, cramps…plural…as in, on both sides) thanks to the massive amounts of fluids I was consuming from the humidity! But I stretched them out and allowed myself at mile 10 to walk one song, run one song. I was still fighting, but I needed back up. So, I tweeted my amazing friend Janelle and amazing runner (she had crossed the finish many minutes before!) She kept reminding me that at this point it was all mental and that I am strong and to just keep running.
I saw the mile 11 sign and felt relief that I was 1 closer, but couldn’t believe I had 2.1 to go. The next thing that happened was a true gift from the running gods. I felt someone tap my shoulder, looked over and it was my friend Norah. I told her I was dying and she looked at me and said we are so close, we are running together, you can do this. (She is also a doctor, which when you feel that far past what you think your body can handle…having a doctor running next to you is very comforting haha!) She just kept telling me “you can do this” “we are almost there” “you’ve made it so far.” (I don’t know what would have happened had she not run up next to me…but let me just reiterate how thankful I am that she did.)
As we were running, she said are those people yelling your name? I knew my cheering crew was anxiously awaiting me at the finish line so I was sure these people weren’t shouting my name. As I got closer, I realized Janelle and 3 other awesome people (Val, Lisa, and Matt) were there to pump me up! That was huge. I was going to freaking finish this thing…running.
As we crossed mile 12 I just kept picturing my friends and family waiting for me. I knew the faster I ran, the faster I would see them. That did it. As I could make out the words finish the pain left. This was it, I was about to cross my first 13.1 finish line. As I got closer, I looked to my right and saw my brother jumping and yelling and my mom crying and my friends going wild. I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. I don’t remember the exact moment I crossed that finish line, but I will be forever grateful to everyone who made that happen. I thought I would be a crying mess as I finished, but I think the extreme exhaustion and shock of what I had just done made everything surreal.
As I have looked through pictures from yesterday and thought about my training and all of the people who showed me so much love and thought about where I have come from it finally hit me…and in true Grace fashion, I balled! Major things happened to me yesterday. Things I swear to God I never thought I would ever do. I said goodbye forever to Fatty Grace yesterday at that finish line. That race was for her, but the next one…That one is for today’s Grace…Me.