Sunday, October 04, 2009

Blue Sky Half Marathon

I knew this half marathon would be different than any other I'd ever run. It was a trail. It was steep. It was rocky.
I just didn't know HOW different until it started.
I started out running at a good clip, hovering around 8:15-per-mile pace. It was a chilly start. Fall is definitely here. I almost wore my jacket along with a warm hat and gloves, a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. Less than two miles into the run, I was wondering what all the fuss was about.
And then I hit the first climb.
Sweat was pouring down my face, and I was breathing hard, like the kind of hard during a 5K or a mile. I promised myself not to look at my GPS. I'm sure my pace was horrible. 
The thing was, so many others were struggling, too. It wasn't just me.
The hills went on FOREVER. You would turn a corner, get a bit of downhill, and just as soon as you'd catch your breath, you'd have another long stretch to tackle. 
I panted. I pushed. I even, occasionally, walked.
But I also had fun.
Part of the thing I love about doing a race like this is I don't think most people get to feel the highs and lows of a good, long workout. Most people, I think, stop at the kind of struggle I felt during those first few climbs. I don't blame them. There's no reason for it.
But the thing is, you get through those parts, and not only is your mind sharper for surviving it, you feel so good later on. There are always tough moments in our lives, too, and things like that teach us to keep fighting the good fight.
When I crossed the line, my time was 22 minutes slower than I'm used to, and yet I felt proud to get through such a tough race. And I felt proud that I felt good most of the time. And when a guy stopped me and said, "Oh, you fell," and I said, yeah, I did, I wondered how he knew that, until I saw the bloody patch on my knee.
I guess I did, indeed, leave just about everything out there.

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