My First Half

Good Morning!

Summer 2010 018

This is my “I just ran my first half marathon and I’m trying to be a good sport, but why am I being photographed from above” face.  Smile

Given the fact that I was told at age 22 that I had worn nearly all of the cartilage out of my knees and should never run again, I’m surprised I didn’t look ecstatic!

For my first half, I didn’t actually train.  Well, not specifically.  I just needed to run.  Everything that was going on in my personal life had me feeling like a mess and running was literally the only thing that made me feel better.  Before then, I had been running here and there—4 or 5 miles at a time—but never what I would consider ‘serious’ distances.  Those were for my marathon running friends, not me.  Plus, I never knew if my knees were going to be sore or not, so I just ran to run, never with a goal in mind.

But when I was an emotional wreck, running grounded me like nothing else.  It gave me a release and a chance to feel in control when nothing else worked.  Determined to have something to look forward to, I signed up for my first 10K with my friend, Kim, and enjoyed every last second of it!

dexter ann arbor run

I continued to run after that, increasing my mileage simply because I could, simply because I wanted to.  At some point, it became a challenge I put before myself.  I wasn’t working toward anything specific, but I wanted to see if I could do it.  I ran steep hills.  I ran in stifling heat.  And for the first time, I ran 8 miles.  Just to see if I could.

Summer 2010 002

{I could.}

And so I ran further.  And faster.  More hills.  More heat.  I ran with a broken toe for weeks simply because I could not not run.

My crazy-fast marathon-running friend, Steph, told me I had to do something with all of the miles I was putting in.  And so I did.

Summer 2010 010

Truly, I had no idea what I was doing.  I had never heard of the race; it just happened to be going on in a town nearby where I had just moved in Virginia.  I knew nothing about the course or what the conditions would be like.  I just signed up.

The morning of the race, I thought it might be a good idea to stretch.

Summer 2010 001

{I never stretch.}

I didn’t sleep well the night before.  I was nervous.  More bad stuff in my personal life.  Probably not well hydrated.  Generally kind of a mess.

Summer 2010 008

{It’s not totally obvious in this photo taken at the start line at all, right?}

It was 72* and 85% humidity at 7 AM when we started.  The course was relatively flat on paved country roads.   Spectators were scarce.  Shade was nonexistent.

Not having a clue what I was doing, I went out too fast, and my knees were in agony by the time I reached the 7th mile.  It was all bad.

Summer 2010 009

But, being the stubborn fool that I am, I wouldn’t couldn’t stop.  I needed to prove to myself that I could finish this race.  I tried to focus on anything but the pain.  The sweet kids holding signs for their moms when we ran through the town.  The interesting outfits of the many many people passing me.  The distance to the next tree, the next mailbox, the next corn stalk.  Ugh.

At the 9th mile, a nice race worker gave me a Gu.  I had never had a Gu before, but it couldn’t hurt, right?  Da-ripping with sweat, I struggled to open the packet and nearly chucked it before it gave way and the weird, gooey substance oozed out.  The texture was revolting.  The flavor, nasty.  But the carbs?  They were worth it.

Somehow, somehow I slogged through the last 4 miles.

Summer 2010.12

A miracle.  I finished a half marathon.

Summer 2010 015

13.1 miles of pure torture.  2 hours 6 minutes.

It wasn’t fast.

It wasn’t fun.

I could barely walk.


I couldn’t wait to do it again.

Because even with the pain, even in the heat, I could still feel that release.  The pride.  The accomplishment.  The runner’s high.

I felt a strength and confidence I hadn’t felt in a long time.  I had moved my body over 13.1 long, hot, unencouraged miles.  Just because I wanted to.  Just because I could.

And that’s why I run.


10 thoughts on “My First Half

  1. OMG! congrats! you must be soooo proud of yourself!!! and your legs look amazing…(ok, that sounds a little stalkerish…lol..but it’s a compliment!!)
    i have been wanting to train for a 1/2 and i am scared……you just gave me the confidence to try!! congrats again~you deserve it!!!

    • Haha! Don’t worry–I didn’t take it that way! And thank you 🙂

      You SHOULD try! Truly truly truly–if you have the will and the desire, you CAN do it! YAY!!! I’m excited for you!

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