Yesterday was a day I had been preparing for, for a number of months.
For fun, on random Saturdays and Sundays during the year, I get up out of my nice, warm, comfy bed before the crack of dawn to run 13.1 miles with a bunch of other weirdos. Why do we do this you ask? Do we all think we are going to win? Hell no! We do this to prove to ourselves we can push our bodies to the brink and our minds just a bit further….oh, and of coarse the added benefit of the hardware, bananas, and chocolate milk at the finish line!
I originally had all these grand plans for my 9th half marathon. I have had a stressful spring and summer, haven’t felt much like running or training for anything. When I committed to running this race, I felt like I was re-committing to myself and my health. I set up a training plan with the best of intentions. Then life continued to happen.
The stress from the spring and summer carried over into the beginning of the school year, never slowing down. I think it actually started doubling its efforts to crush me in September. My drive fizzled and my training runs tanked. Oh, I still completed them, if you can really call it that, they were just terrible runs.
As the date on the calendar kept getting closer and closer, my expectations for success got lower and lower.
Then Friday hit.
It has been a particular bad stretch of days at the Ye Ol’ behavior school. At the end of each day, we look at our imaginary score card for the day to see who won. The students have been being extra behaviorally disordered this week, pushing us to our brink and challenging our last nerves.
Well, my one last nerve broke on Friday. They won….Big Time. While trying to talk to a student about one of his behaviors, he unleashed on me, a whole different set of aggressive behaviors leading to me filing an assault charge, leaving work early, going to the doctor, and being an emotional wreck.
Their win defeated me. It broke me. Not only was I physically hurt, but I was emotionally devastated. And now I was supposed to take my already sore body and push it 13 miles? At one point on Friday night, I nearly called my bestie who was driving me to the race to cancel. But I just couldn’t.
Mind over matter. You hear that expression all the time, but it wasn’t until I started running long distances, that I truly experienced it in action. A distance race is so much more mental that physical. My physical body might be damaged, but my spirit wasn’t broken, yet, and I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.
The race we registered for was a trail run on the Wabash Trace in Iowa. Many races are of the out and back variety, but this race was not. For our race, we were shuttled out the start line and left, literally, in the corn fields of Iowa with nothing to get ourselves back to our vehicle with but our over-priced running shoes and our hearts. It was truly an ingenious plan. Once you start, there’s no quitting!
Despite his best efforts to injury or maim us with his poor driving skills on gravel roads, our shuttle driver delivered us safely to the start line.
Hey, at least it wasn’t a short bus……
It was nice to see they support crew gearing up for the event.
I do believe it’s extremely rude for them to be eating donuts, smoking, and drinking coffee in front of all of us. F*#$ers!
And could someone please fix the bathrooms?
This one wouldn’t flush!
At least they were kind enough to leave me something to play with before the race started.
All jokes aside, when you get down to it. It’s just you, mind and body, pushing yourself to the finish line.
Let’s do this.
The race started out pretty decent. The weather was perfect; in the 60s, overcast.
I cruised through miles 1, 2, 3, and 4.
There weren’t that many runners signed up for the race, so by this point, the trail had really thinned out. It felt like you were all on your own.
This can be good and bad.
Although the scenery was beautiful, a wandering mind is not always your friend.
With my legs burning in mile 5, my mind replayed my week. Have you ever seen someone cry and run at the same time? It’s not pretty and doesn’t do wonders to help you keep up your pace. I was starting to feel crushed and wondering how I was going to make it to the end. My physical body was teetering on the edge as it was, now the last of my mentality looked like it was throwing in the towel.
Down, but not out. Not yet.
Mile 6 called for a change and a mental refocus. Yes, I had shed tears, but they were out and it was time to keep pushing forward. My first step was to change up the music. See you later Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. Hello Snoop and Dre.
I was cruising into mile 8 when I got leid.
Hey, freak-o. Get you mind out of the gutter.
I hit my wall around mile 10 1/2. To put it mildly, it sucked. Luckily, about this time, we emerged from the trail into the town where the race would end. Now, if you’ve ever participated in or been a spectator at a race, you know how uplifting a crowd can be. The cheers…. the encouraging words…. the signs.
Oh, the signs.
Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of my two favorites, (I feared, if I stopped to snap pics this late in the race, I might not start again) but here’s what they said.
“Go Total Stranger Go!”
“Worst Parade EVER!”
As I trudged up and down the hills of the town towards the finish, (Seriously, who puts hills at the END of a half marathon???) I got my Tootsie Roll groove on, had OPP thoroughly explained to me frame-by-frame, and learned who the Real Slim Shady is.
I rounded the last corner, saw the finish line, took a deep breath, and finished hard.
What do you do after you cross the finish line?
This Is How We Do It….. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist one last one!)
The ups and downs of the week. The physical pains and the emotional drains. The falls, the walls, the failures… Followed by getting back up, trying again, pushing through, and finding success.
My final score card from the week???