That’s the key of my alarm that went off in its futile attempt to wake me at 4:30 this morning.
E Major, but louder.
I groaned. 4:39. ‘I’m not ready for this race…’ I shut off the alarm.
Decidedly louder and less harmonious than my alarm, my thoughts of potential regret are what finally got me out of bed at 4:45. Well, that and Adonis pounding on my door. My fabulous future hubs made me breakfast as I prepared for the half-marathon ahead of me.
Though I was armed with my bib holder and best running lipstick, I was plagued with doubt. My longest continuous run in my current training cycle was 8.5 miles. I was worried about both my mental and physical stamina. In my previous post I wrote regarding my grand expectations for this race. Knowing how far I have fallen from my 2014 peak kinda bums me out. I hadn’t run a half-marathon since the last leg of my half-ironman. My piano teacher always told me that the reason for practicing is not just for skill building but for building confidence. The guilt that comes with not practicing is enough to sap the most talented of confidence.
As I walked to get my bib, I stared at the finish line. My eyes started to tear. The half-marathon distance has always moved me. I know that I cannot take any of the approximately 30,000 steps that are between me and a finisher’s medal alone. Though on my feet, I am forced to my proverbial knees in a way that I don’t so tangibly feel for shorter distances.
I took in the crowd. I overheard conversations between other runners. “I’m running with the 1:40 pacer!” Heh. I was trying to decide what a reasonable goal was for me. “Beat the balloon lady?” I thought to myself. I had been thinking this week that considering how underprepared I am I should be happy with 3 hours or less. I searched for the 3 hour pacer. “13:43 min mile,” his sign read. I figured I would be safe but I was not sure if I would be bored. I saw the 2:45 pacer. “12:35.” I walked over to him and told him I wanted to run with him. He smiled and recommended that I keep him in my “rearview mirror” to ensure that I finish in a time I wanted.
I took a selfie at the starting line and made a face in an attempt to reflect my emotions…
I think that captured my Jessie Spano-like state of split emotions. I mean, I did have the morbid curiosity to show up today. Could be fun.
The horn went off, and off I went. It was good to be moving in the cold weather. I checked my watch. “11:30.” I turned to see if Billy the Pacer was in my rearview mirror. BTP was sho ’nuff in my blind spot! What the hell?! Forever the good student, I sped up. I wasn’t feeling as drained as I thought I might. Yes, I know I still had 13 of 13.1 miles to go. I smiled as we made our first turn. I felt my calves greet me hello. It is here that I am making a public service announcement for all pensive runners – do NOT reflect on the meaning of life before a race instead of warming up. Do them at the same time. I shrugged and kept going.
I observed the people around me. BTP was talking to a chick who was running her first half. A man was running in memory of a 15 year old who died last month. Some old dude left me in the dust. I grinned. I was moving forward.
I greeted new people I would encounter. “Good morning!” “You seem happy,” one man responded. “I am!” I said. “I’m alive.” And it was true. Had I had the breath, I would have elaborated that I was alive and could run. My brain had clicked into performance mode and I was freely running without analyzing my preparation or thinking of what would come after the finish. Not even second breakfast was on my mind as I made my way through 13.1 miles. All I was thinking of was the moment, of my current journey, of the blessing of this particular experience.
I reached mile 7. I thought to myself, “Great! I can do that again.” My knees were angry. At the perfect time, I read a sign that read, “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.” Race volunteers are a big deal. I thanked God and I thanked the volunteers as I passed them. I checked for BTP. I lost him. Whoops. I shrugged. I ran some more.
By mile 10, I was starting to warm up. I removed my hat. 10.5 – removed my gloves. 11.5 – damn. I really don’t feel like removing my jacket but it’s hot now. I removed my watch and phone from my sleeve, grabbed both by my teeth, and tried to simultaneously run and disrobe. Almost landed on my face. My youthful lack of wisdom was compensated by my youthful balance. Winning.
Once I looked at my watch again, I thought to myself, heh. Positive splits. Who cares. I’m a positive girl. This finish line is happening today. No Monday morning quarterbacking until tomorrow. I smiled and waved for the race paparazzi. I turned the final corner and saw Mom, who ran with me to the finish line.
I want to say that I don’t think I could be more proud of myself than I am. I am not worried about anyone who would shudder at the thought of being proud of a 2:41:01 finish time. I fear that someone could read about my concrete goal for the day and think, “Shut up! I would be lucky to finish with the balloon lady. Or finish at all.” I think it is important to note that awesome is relative. I gave 100% today. My goal, in time, is to make MY 100% better. I can’t do anyone else’s 100% because I am Joan. I can’t be anyone else, and it is good to have a day where I am thankful that I am no one else. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
That’s who I am.