Today I ran my fourth half-marathon. It was my third time running this particular race, so I’m pretty well acquainted with the course, especially having spent many weeks doing training runs on it with my friends. However, that doesn’t diminish the fact that this race was tough.
The course starts with a fairly steep hill for the entire first mile, has a couple of short but still challenging hills in the middle–and then you approach mile 10, where you face an extremely steep hill that seems endless, in large part due to the sheer exhaustion you’re feeling that late in the race. After finally getting through that hill, there are another couple of small (yet not insignificant) inclines over the final 3 miles of the race before reaching the finish line.
In other words, we truly earned our medals today!
Despite the hills, I have so much to be grateful for regarding today’s race:
• I’m grateful for having friends to train with these last few months. We met at 7 a.m. nearly every Saturday morning since January to run varying lengths of the race course in preparation for today. Believe me, getting up early on a Saturday morning is no picnic, but having great friends to train with make a world of difference.
• I’m grateful for being able to run/walk with my friend Jill throughout the entire race. Jill trained with me and, since we run at pretty much the same pace, we were able to keep each other company on the race course. I can’t say that tackling 13.1 miles is ever easy, but it’s made easier by having someone to talk to, be encouraged by and commiserate with, especially on those hills. We frequently gave ourselves little pep talks to keep us going and we crossed the finish line together.
• I’m grateful for so many family and friends who were praying for me and cheering me on, whether in person or remotely. I got to see a couple of friends on the sidelines along the way and at the end of the race, and hearing them cheer for me was such a lift. One of Jill’s friends, who lives right at mile 9 on the race course, put up signs for each of us (see my sign above!) and had a cooler full of water and Gatorade waiting for us when we approached her house. Knowing that we had that dreaded hill at mile 10 coming up, her timing of refreshment and cheering for us couldn’t have come at a better time.
• After a forecast that called for rain during the race, I’m grateful that the weather cooperated. For most of the race, we had overcast skies with cool breezes, which was a big help considering that temperatures were in the high 60s/low 70s. We had a few sprinkles around mile 6 but that was it, rain-wise. The sun did peep out from the clouds a few times throughout the race but mercifully it didn’t last too long. If I’d had my druthers, I’m much rather had temps about 20-30 degrees cooler, but at least we didn’t have blistering sun the entire time.
• I’m especially grateful that I finished the race injury-free, blister-free, and, other than having tired feet, not feeling very sore at all. Normally when I’m doing a race or training run of this length, my back and hips start to tighten up around mile 9 or so, but today I haven’t felt too stiff.
All in all, I’m very glad I ran today’s race, and very glad that it’s over. I’m so looking forward to sleeping in next Saturday! However, there’s another half-marathon in three weeks that I’m considering doing…I think I’ll have to sleep on that decision, though. That race course is not nearly as hilly as today’s, but the thought of having to go another 13.1 miles so soon is not terribly appealing at the moment. We’ll see, though…