I feel silly in these pictures, but I love them. The one on the left I have adopted as my “I just finished a race” picture pose, and the one of the right Mere snapped without my knowing and I just think it more accurately describes my feelings about finishing the half marathon I ran on Sunday. This race was important to me for a lot of different reasons, one of which being that it was just my ultimate goal when I started running seriously, but mainly because I’m still skating on the thin ice of a heartbreak, and when I needed something to throw my heart into completely, this is what I chose. This is what it was going to be, and I did it without anyone holding my hand.
I am so sore. I have been running at an 11min/mile pace for the duration of my training, but I ended up finishing the half in 1:56:24, which is about 35 minutes faster than I had anticipated. WHAT. Can’t begin to explain how amazing it felt to come in under 2 hours, and also knowing that I could have absolutely done it faster. The entire course was beautiful- I don’t know enough about Raleigh to know where I was at any moment, but we ran through a lot of parks and it was a beautiful morning and it was just AMAZING. Amazing, but VERY hill-y, and unfortunately the last 2 miles were pretty much all uphill, which was so physically and mentally taxing but made seeing that finish line so much better. There were also a lot of really funny and inspiration signs spread throughout the course, but I don’t know that they’re funny enough to share out of the context of a 13.1 mile delirium?
I finished 13.1 miles in 1:56:24. I finished 22nd for my age division, and I finished 329th out of 1,102. (This is not entirely important because I wasn’t in a competitive mindset, BUT STILL COOL.)
I ran about 200 miles in 10 weeks in preparation for this race. I ran in the dark of the morning, I ran after long and stressful days at work, I ran every single Saturday morning without even trying to come up with an excuse. I was in my gear and running before my mind even had the chance to react. I ran hungover (once, and not recommended), I ran off of no sleep, I ran when I didn’t want to- I ran when I wanted to sit on the couch and cry instead. I ran in Greensboro, I ran in Charlotte, I ran in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, I ran in Austin, TX, and I ran in Houston, TX. I ran in the snow, I ran in the rain, I ran in the cold, and I ran in the sick Floridian humidity. I ran with a strangled heart that felt like it could drop out of my chest at any minute. It never did. I ran choked up and misty-eyed during at least one point in every run. I ran every single mile by myself, but during the actual race all I could think about was all the people that I loved, and how badly I wanted to be better for each and every one of them.
I would like to give the final thanks to my brain and my body, because I have never been nicer to myself than while training for this race. Even on bad runs my brain never berated me, never told me I wasn’t good enough, or strong enough, or fast enough, because I was. And I am. And so are you. And I just want to both gently and aggressively remind everyone that you are always going to be so much stronger than you think you are, in any way that you are currently doubting yourself. You are stronger physically, emotionally, intellectually, athletically, academically… stronger in whatever way rings true. So be good to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Let your body take care of you. And for the sake of everybody in this whole entire amazing world that needs each and every one of us so badly, I hope you find something (many things) that makes you feel like if you were the only thing you had for the rest of your life, you would be okay. You would survive. You would be strong.
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