On Sunday, six months of training and effort paid off as I ran the Des Moines half marathon. I signed up with Team in Training in May and wondered what the heck I was getting myself into. I am not a runner. I am not athletic. I am a wimp. But I surprised myself as the miles added up from week to week and I realized that I might just be able to do this.
Signing up with Team in Training also means lots of time and effort in fundraising for Leukemia & Lymphoma. At the beginning, I had doubts that I would be able to reach my $1800 fundraising minimum. But again, I was pleasantly surprised as the money rolled in. Many friends and family members supported me and helped by generously donating for this amazing cause.
My honored hero, Kaitlyn has been my motivator since May.
She came to several group training sessions and is often on my mind as I run. I can't imagine what she and her family have gone through.
I did struggle with horrible shin spints from July on, and about a month ago they got so bad that I stopped running. I knew that if I wanted to have any chance at actually running the half-marathon I needed to give them time to heal completely. However, that means that I didn't give my body any training time for a whole month! So as the day of the race approached I decided that I'd be happy if I just ran 5-6 miles of the 13 and called it quits there. John supported me and said that he'd run along side me, no matter when I decided to stop.
But then something happened. We joined the rest of the Team the night before the race for a pasta dinner. As we ate dinner amongst the other Nebraska and Iowa Team in Training runners, we listened to several speakers. They talked about their loved ones who struggled through cancer and the pain they had experienced. They spoke of the determination of these people and that they never gave up on life. My coach, Dan gave an amazing speech and reminded us that we had come so far. The next day would be the culmination of all our efforts.
So John and I went back to our hotel room and I came up with a new plan. I was crossing that finish line no matter what. At that point I had no doubt that I could do it. When we woke up at 6am the next morning to meet the team in the lobby, I opened our door and found this:
And that's after I took off all of the bags of candy and the letters from my coach and mentor. Such a nice surprise.
We headed down to the lobby and lucky for John, the snack shop was selling Starbucks : )
The Nebraska Team in Training at 6:45am!
Then we headed to the start of the race and froze our butts off as we waited. It was 34 degrees, but sunny!
As 8am came closer, we took off our warm clothes and shivered our way to the start line! And we were off. I felt great for the first 8 miles (which surprised me). The sun was shining and the course was beautiful. At about mile 9, I started to feel the muscles in my legs getting tighter and my knees getting weaker. But John was right there, loudly cheering me on (and everyone else on the course). The night before I was given a dogtag necklace with the name and picture of Kaitlyn. I wore it as I ran and thought of it often during miles 9,10 and 11.
But when the finish line came into view and the crowds of people were cheering us on, I got one last burst of energy. I finished the race in 2:58:56 with tears in my eyes.
Today my legs don't work and every muscle in my body is aching. But it was so worth it. The training and race were a wonderful experience and I'm glad I can say I did it!