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"Happiness does not come from having much, but from being attached to little." ~Cheng Yen

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PostHeaderIcon #40 is in the books!

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Half marathon #40 turned out to be pretty darn special to me. *This* is why I run, why I still do all these races.

*So used to doing these on my own, and kind of having my head down/game face on that I almost don’t respond to the woman who asks me in the parking garage as I’m walking out “are you heading to the race?” I catch myself, smile and say “yup! You?” She says yes and asks if she can walk with me. Sure! I reply. Within a few steps walking with Mankamal, we establish that this is her FIRST half marathon. My heart races and my stomach gets butterflies, yay! So excited for her. Two weeks ago she ran eight miles, the most she’d done. A week ago she pushed herself to 11 miles, surprising herself. She asks me how many I’ve done, I say 40. She exclaims “wow! I was just planning to do this one, as a “bucket list” item to get through.” I share with her that the feeling she’s already had, of accomplishment and satisfaction from the miles she puts in is electrified and magnified when she crosses the finish line. And that no one can take it from her – that sense of empowerment is all her. She smiles and says thank you, she was nervous and now is even more excited (and still nervous) to do the race and who knows, maybe she’ll do more if it goes well. I ask for her bib number because I want to see if I might be able to cheer her in at the finish line. We grab a picture, hug and wish each other a great race. I’m SO thrilled to have met her, no matter what happens at this race for me and my time, this one is already a major success in my book. To share that with her.

*As I’m running to find the gear check, I practically run over Roger Craig. As in NFL running back Roger Craig. So there’s that. Pretty impressive how he’s retrained his body to go from the NFL to a serious marathon runner. Wow.

*Ready to go, in my corral, feeling fairly strong and content. Feeling like, you know, my body is a little tired but not terribly so and I’m thinking this race might feel good. I hear them announce Deena Kastor in corral 2. Would love to meet that amazing runner someday. As I’m kind of pushed up against the white metal temporary fencing they use to create the corrals, I notice a woman in a gold sequin running tutu hop out at one of the openings and run to the wall of the building we’re nearest. She’s crying. A lot. And leans her back up against the building, wiping her eyes. My heart leaps out of my chest. And I admit, I initially go into bystander mode. I see someone notice her, go over to her and she essentially waves them off. At first I think, oh, someone checked on her, they got it. But she’s still crying. A lot. I say “f’ it, I’m going” and find the closest opening to get out of the corral I’m in. They’re announcing corral 3, we were in corral 8. I run over to her, and thinking perhaps she’s overcome with emotion about the race and is feeling some fear I ask her “are you okay? Are you scared?” and she says no. She says “I just got in a big fight with my husband.” (in my head I think, nice, awesome timing!) and I say, oh, I’m so sorry. I ask her “what can I do? Is there anything I can do for you, anything I can get you?” She waves me off a bit, saying no, no. And I say, “well, can you do me a favor?” I have my hands on her shoulders. Will you look me in the eye and tell me you know that at an event like this, you know you are surrounded by love and very strong healthy energy? And she pauses, looks at me and nods. I think, great! I tell her to have a great race and run back to a fence opening and get back in a corral to start the race. I look over to where she is standing, and she’s not moving. Her face is wet, this is not a tear or two. Tears are streaming and she’s constantly wiping her face. My heart breaks again. Something more. I look ahead and see another potential opening. I tell myself, if she’s still at the wall by the time I get up there, I’m jumping out again. We shuffle forward some more and I hit my spot, look back and she’s still there. I bounce out of line again and run over to her. “I forgot to tell you how much I love your gold sequin tutu!” I get a smile. (better then her telling me to get lost!) And “you are such a rock star to be doing this race. You are SO strong, and that strength will carry you through this too.” Another smile. Still tears too. “You know, getting out there to run will feel so good once you do it.” She nods. And then I ask “would you be willing to start this race WITH me? For real. Let’s get in the corral and start running together. I’ll wait till you’re ready.” She looks up in surprise and the look on her face becomes determined. “Yes, I can do that.” So I throw my arm around her shoulder and we find our place in a corral again. I learn this beautiful girl’s name is Lisa, she is local, this would be her 20th half marathon (girl did 13 in one year last year!) and she a bit weary of the race. Just do what works for you, we agree. I check her bib number, tell her I would love to cheer her on at the finish if I can find her. She nods and after about a half mile, notices I’m like a wild gelding held back in a locked barn and motions for me to get running and I give her a look like, are you sure? She nods, I take off and give her a thumbs up. That experience carries me pretty much the whole race. Go Lisa, you got this!

*A couple miles in, I notice a guy’s t-shirt that says
”Bend the Body
Mend the Senses
End the Mind.”
Yes, yes, I like that. Yes please.

*Run is going pretty well. My feet aren’t too sore (until about mile 5 that is) and legs feel good too. I’m enjoying this. I’m playing a bit of what I call pac-man as I started behind a big group, but I’m enjoying the feeling, enjoying the race. The first three miles come and go fairly quickly. My whole goal is to feel “good” and not feel too much struggle, no matter what the finish time.

*Right around mile 8, feeling inspired by running for Lisa, running for Mankamal. I’m running for my friends in the Grand Canyon too. And then out of nowhere is a bright yellow Penske truck, randomly placed in a neighborhood. I smile. Yes, I’m running for Chris too.

*Pretty sure I just saw Brandy Chastain on the sidewalk talking with some friends, not running. So that happened.

*Somewhere between mile 9 and 10, I’m very much feeling tired, my feet are overly sore and I’m wondering where the rest of the energy will be to finish strong. And I look up to see the cross street name “Brooklyn” and think “oh COOL! That’s the location of half marathon number 41 in two weeks! Great sign!” and as I pass under it, the street name I’m actually running on appears: “Dana” – well, that’s just perfect. I’m running on Dana Street, one of the women I’m not only honored to call a friend but am continually inspired by who’s about to do her second Ironman in Kona. I’m at the cross street of Brooklyn, next half, and Dana, a rock star of a human being. Nice. I like this burst of energy!

*Around mile 11, I laugh a bit to myself, thinking a week ago, instead of excited I only had two miles left at the Rim to Rim hike, I was thinking “oh Lord, we still have two miles to go? This would be SO different if it were a half marathon!” And it made me smile to remember that glorious day.

*Somehow the last few miles, I gain strength. In fact, I ended up running the final 13th mile as a sub-8 minute mile. That’s ‪#‎finishingstrong‬ and then some. I’ll take it!

*After I finish, I text Steve Martin, my running buddy who I always try to see post-race. I know he runs with his phone on him so once I have mine back, I walk back to the finish line area, right around 13 miles, as the runners turn left at the last point 1. He’s just passed mile 12, so I set my stuff down to get ready to cheer for him. I pull up the live runner tracking and put in Lisa’s number – looks like she opted to run the 10k race. And I immediately think “good job, Lisa, way to take care of you and do what was best for you today.” And then I put in Mankamal’s number. She’s still going! Yes! I get to track where she is!

*And then here comes Steve – looking good, looking strong! I raise my arms and pump my fists “yesssss! Go Steve!” and high five him as he passes. Strong finish my friend, strong finish.

*I hit refresh constantly and can see the progress Mankamal is making: 12.2, 12.5, 12.7. Oh my goodness, she’s almost here. I am scanning the runners as they pass me, looking for the shirt I knew she was wearing and her bib number. I spot her. She’s now wearing a hat but it’s her, for sure. “YEEEEEAAAAAH MANKAMAL! You GOT THIS! CONGRATULATIONS!” I’m yelling for her. Her head swivels and she spots me, big grin and I’m hopping up and down like a madwoman. I run to her and give her a big high five. “You’re amazing, you got this, your first one! GO get it, finish strong girl!” She thanks me and keeps at it. I retrace my steps back to the finish line itself, eyes keenly on her and find myself with tears on my face as I watch her cross the finish line of her very first half marathon. Tears for this woman I just met. Well, I’m pretty sure I cry at every race so…

*Get to meet up with Steve briefly and we compare notes (it’s one of my favorite post-race habits, when we’re both at a race and we get to connect afterwards!) and congratulations. And after texting with Mankamal, we opt to meet back at the parking lot. How was it, I ask? “It was great, it went better than I thought. It was tough in some spots for me, but I allowed myself to walk when I needed to. It was just right for me.” she shares. Wow, quite wise for the first one! Then she says “you know, thank you so much for waiting around and finding me to cheer for me and celebrate with me. None of my friends ended up making it out this morning, and I really appreciate the effort you made to make this special for me.” I tell her, oh, my goodness. Truly my pleasure and honor, it made my day and then some. (she reiterated this in a text later that day)

*So, this is half marathon #40. Never did I aim to do this many. Never did I think this would be where I’m at with it all now. And I love it. These stories from this race made it more special for me than if I’d PRd somehow. Bearing witness to multiple people’s experience, helping and supporting them in some way. Thank you to everyone and everything that conspired to make this such a special unique experience.

*Now on to a nutty October – three halfs in four weeks!

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