The day started at 5:30 am. I actually woke up at 4:00 am out of nerves and anxiety but managed to fall back asleep for the next hour and a half. I woke up knowing that today is finally race day.
All of my cloths had been laid out the night before. My new favorite running pants that hit just below my knees, my most comfortable long grey t-shirt, lucky socks, and my hot pink running jacket with the front pocket to hold my GU and my inhaler. Daren had helped me put my chip on my shoe the night before and my bib on my jacket. Lucky number 34 was my race number. I drank my coffee and forced down my oatmeal. So nervous that it was hard to eat anything but knowing what was ahead I ate all of my oatmeal and a yogurt. I told Boomer not to be nervous and then hopped into Daren’s truck.
Wait! I yelled “I don’t have my watch!” All of the nervous energy came bursting to the surface with this tiny mishap as if somehow having that watch would make a major difference in my race.
Back in the truck we drove mostly in silence except for my singing quietly along with the radio to calm myself down. I don’t remember exactly what happened after we parked but before I knew it we were at the starting line. Daren always likes to start in the faster mile group because “its easier for them to pass us than for us to pass them”. So there we were 5 rows back from the starting line and surrounded by around 5000 excited and nervous runners. It is a really cool feeling to be a part of something that is so big and that so many people have spent so many hours working for. Then it started 3…2…1….bang! And we were off and running, literally. It was at this point that all of my nerves, anxiety and fears surfaced and my blue eyes filled with tears and my heart laughed and and swelled with pride and the accomplishment of going from running zero miles to starting out on my first 13.1 miles in a matter of months.
The first 6 miles felt really easy and went by quickly. Daren and I were chatting and laughing and enjoying ourselves and our race together. Then came miles 8 and 9 those were a bit more difficult. The coarse took us almost all the way out to the dump and back again and by mile 9 the pain was starting. I kept telling myself “Good for you, this time you didn’t start hurting until mile 9”. Another GU and 4 more miles to go.
My goal was to run a sub 2 hour race at at about the 9 1/2 mark the 2:00 hour pacer passed me. And in an instant I was racing. I was no longer running for fun and companionship but I was racing. I looked over at Daren who has been faithfully running by my side for all of these months of training and he said “Go.”
I stretched out my stride and steeled my mind for the last 4 miles. I passed the entire 2:00 hour pace pack and it took everything I could muster to keep them behind me. At mile 11 my legs were aching, at 11.5 my feet were hurting in places they have never hurt before, at 12 I was all but done for and headed toward the final hill that takes you over the bridge to the finish line. Exactly at the time I reached the 12 mile marker Daren was passing on the other side of the route and shouted to me “You can do it! Great Job! Dig in Sarah, last mile!” And so I did…
I fought for this race with my whole body. Just after the final hill as I reached for the final straight away a stranger who was cheering on the runners look directly at me and into my eyes and leaned in towards me and said “excellent, you are doing excellent”. I smiled back at her and dug in for my finish.
As I reached the finish line I started clapping for myself and had a huge smile on my face as I crossed the line. Then the announcer says and now #34 an even pronounced my name correctly. I hopped, jumped up and down, clapped and then went over to the side and threw up. With that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had done it. I had given this race my all and taken my mind and body as far as it would go.
I did it! I ran my race. I met my goal. I ran a sub 2 hour half marathon and became even closer to and fell more in love with my fiance.
Thank you Daren for the hours of patient training that brought me to this huge personal accomplishment. I love you for it…and now on with the wedding!