I Completed a Half Marathon!

I am not an elite runner. I am not a fast runner. It’s still hard for me most of the time to think of myself as a runner at all. I open with these thoughts because it’s hard to begin posting my accomplishments knowing that there is a very small slice of my blog readership who readily choose to pass judgement, see the negative side of everything and tear me and others down for reasons I can only guess. Some may call it paranoia but it’s really called a Stat Counter that pinpoints who is reading our blogs and from where. Correction, reading my blog, not “mine and my husband’s”… just mine. These are people who know Jim and me equally have called me inhumane or say I have questionable ethics in situations where they are most clearly out of line and in the wrong.

Along with the endurance I have built in running I am doing my best to feel good about my accomplishments without letting the cattiness that I know exists in the world get the better of me. I know that when some (a very few some) see my photos or read my entries they say and think things like, “If I had all that extra time I could __________.” or “Look at that poochy stomach, she isn’t fit all.” or “What hidden agenda is really behind this entry?” To those who are looking to find fault in the world, question my words, motives or activities please start looking elsewhere. My blog is about my pursuit of true indigo and “pursuit” is the key word. I have no answers for anyone who is looking to read about anything else. Short of making this blog by accessible by invitation only, all I can say is that there nothing more for you to see here folks, goodbye.

Now that I have banished the foolish demons who seem to say, “so what”, “big deal”, “get a life”, “get a job”, “What does this have to do with ______?” I will start the real substance of this entry, I COMPLETED A HALF MARATHON! How often does anyone get to use the words “I completed” and “marathon” in the same sentence!? Oh, I am grinning widely as I sit here with slightly swollen knees and an overall acheyness.

I finished the Diva Half-Marathon in 2 hours and 19 minutes. For anyone that likes comparisons to how elite runners fair (now that I have encouraged that anyone reading this should be interested in how cool it is and not to prove how amazingly slow I am), my finish time is pretty much the record for women’s FULL marathon. The world record for women was set by Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain in the London Marathon on April 13, 2003, in 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds. Just to continue to freely string vaguely related thoughts together, congratulations to Paula Radcliffe who had her baby boy this past Goose Day!

Heather William’s winning time yesterday was 1:24:46. I think I saw her close to her 8th mile when the route kissed and I was just past my 4th mile. It was so crazy inspiring to see the top runners crossing over this long bridge that passed over the Meadowbrook Parkway as we ran on the same bridge in the opposite directions. I know it was a discouraging sight to some women around me. I thought it was great and I made my way to the right to yell encouragement over to the top runners as they (seemingly) effortlessly made their way into their final 5 miles.

My goal was to try to come in before 2 1/2 hours. The course cut off was 3 1/2 hours and when I first considered signing up I was still really uncertain that I could even make that time. I crunched a few numbers, projected my pace at what I knew I could run at the time, factored in walking time for what was yet unknown and I was still getting about 3 hours. With 11 weeks to train, I decided to sign up.

The amount of time and effort training took impacted my life a little more that I hoped it would. During the time A&A visited I had to pass on joining them for a few activities that fell after my “long” runs. Walking the Grange Fair ended up pushing my limit because my ham string was a bit of a problem at that time. I passed on strolling through the bi-annual Antique Machinery Show and flea market because the only morning I could schedule in my last 12 miler (a commitment of well over 2 hours at the time) was the only day everyone else could go. As I sat at home recovering I got a call from my mother-in-law. We both commiserated that neither of us was up to walking the long and bumpy route of the flea market. My reason was the self-inflicted work out, hers is advanced Parkinson’s disease.

Logging over 20 miles most weeks was new for me but the hard part was the taper that lead up to the race. The final week I hardly ran at all; 9 miles split out over 6 days. It allowed time for self-doubt and a lot of introspection. I had to have faith that I trained properly and the week of rest was going to allow my to do my best on race day. It really worked out for me and a real highlight was the day before the race. I ran a gentle 3 mile jog through Eisenhower Park with the man I love.

To those of you with whom I have talked, shared emails and IM chats about running, get medical ok and DO IT. Do it slowly, do it with a stroller, do it with a dog you can control, do it with a stability walker. Do it for a minute, do it for an hour. I found that I need a bit of structure like a training plan to help me stick to it but tried to allow flexibility in case life got in the way. You may prefer to just run when you feel like it for as long as feels right. I run alone for the most part. I like working through my inner demons and the private self improvement time to just sweat. You may like running with a buddy or a group. I also need a goal, a training program that progressed to an end was a goal. A run of 8k became my next goal. Then I set my sights on a 5k fund raiser then a 10k run. It was then, in early July, I found I could slowly run 7 miles without stopping. I was on track for a rookie training program for a 1/2 marathon. Oh yeah, yesterday I completed a half marathon.

The race itself was more of a party than a race. The route was a little boring in some places but about every mile they had DJs blasting songs like, “It’s Raining Men,” “Material Girl,” “Hot Stuff” and my fricken favorite (as I downed Ibuprofen at the 9 mile mark) “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Cheesy stereotypical diva disco music it was and it made for a LOT of fun if taken in the right spirit.

I went into the event knowing that the glitz was a big part of it and instead of saying, “This is so stupid” or “I hate pink” I went prepared for it all. I laughed at the tutus, tiaras and costumes other women wore and took my own special purple feather boa to swap the pink one they adorned me with for the final mile of the run. I did my best to encourage those around me and that kept my heart light.

I may not be what some (demons!) call a runner but I can tell you I have run long and hard away from participating in catty attitudes, name calling and snide comments about others. Running has empowered me to feel accomplished and good about myself and others with whom I have to live in this society.

My running is mainly a solo activity and I am still introverted. I can’t bring myself to many group functions but when I do I am much more frequently at ease. Instead of glowering from a corner and putting down everyone I see, I do what I can and try to see the good. It makes me a heck of a lot happier person to surround myself with people and activities that can stay positive. Running has really been one of those activities.

Thinking of the competition aspect of being in a race, I am so slow that the only thing I am competing against is the myself. I am trying to have a good if not better pace for myself in a race. This is a big change from when I was a little girl and could outrun every other girl my age (and most of the boys) in the county but that is a story for another blog entry. My views of competition are wary ones but I have found a way to enter races without as much stress as I had imagined.

In a race, the momentum of the crowd carries me. The distractions of the runner’s costumes allows me to not worry if I will complete the race. The road itself throws in potholes to keep me aware. I am trying to complete a run not win a race. If I have energy at the end, I always have had, I really start moving. I want to cross the final steps with life and joy in my heart. I may pass other runners or be passed but it’s not about them other than using them as landmarks or distractions. I am selfishly running in a group.

Running like a diva was strange but a fun diversion. I mugged for cameras and allowed myself to be a fool. I flounced a little with the HOT pink feather boa and tiara I picked up at mile 12 until it got annoying and hot at mile 12.5. I knew my dear family was waiting with my purple feather boa and I would follow through with my planned “gear swap.”

The finish line welcomed my pounded feet as I raised my arms in victory. The chip sensor on my sneaker allowed the MC to read my name and location to the crowd. I crossed out of the paparazzi zone and on to claim my medal, champagne and lovely rose from smiling firemen. Yes, they were buff but none were shirtless on this chilly breezy morning.

I met up with my family who gave me amazing purple flowers. I gave my perfect rose to A Rose by Any Other Name because I was SO appreciative of the support she and her husband have given me this year. I then busted a move of victory at the Luna tent. After looking for another friend and anything else to do, we all decided to pack it up and have lunch on Manhattan.

Today is glum and rainy and it’s hard for me to move even 5 feet. It’s a good day to blog and do household chores. I am cold and stiff but still filled with a wonderful optimism that allowed me to hobble outside to see a flock of 35 geese winging their way south. Autumn has taken a firm hold and I am satisfied. I completed a half marathon.

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