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Monday, November 17, 2008

Bragging Rights...

Pre-reading caveat...

I AM NOT AN ATHLETE...

See, here's the thing, though, I have always wanted to be...and in particular, I have always wanted to be a runner. I don't know what it is about the sport of running that I find so compelling. Maybe it's that you can run anywhere, anytime...it is the quintessential individualist sport (as one who doesn't play nice with others...and by that I mean I'm not any good at anything...I don't like being subjected other people's ridicule and competitive nature...might I also add I blame a lot of jr. high scarring on this particular fact...), maybe it's that my grandfather ran the Boston Marathon, oh, you know, a couple of times, no big deal...maybe it's the fact that I look really great in spandex (okay, fine, maybe not so much that one) maybe it's the fact that runners (distance runners in particular) have copious amounts of self-control and discipline...of which I have none...could be any number of things.

But, the honest truth is I am just not genetically disposed to athletics...running in particular. I'm 5'4" I have a stride of approximately 6 inches and I have to buy running shoes with soles made of tempered steel to correct the pronation in my gate because my arches are so high you could drive a train through them...See, if Botticelli was convening a team of some sort I would have been his first round draft pick, but I'm pretty sure Bill Bowerman wouldn't have let me carry his team's towels for fear I might infect his runners with curvaceous slowness, or at least bad knees or something...by all accounts me and running are just not meant to be...

For the visual learners in the group...

This
Not ThisEverybody still with me? A seriously sad plight indeed. I never thought I would be able to run any sort of distance...and of course sprinting was just out. Some people have fast twitch muscles, some people have slow twitch muscles...I'm just lucky if I can get mine to twitch. Now, don't get me wrong, I take good care of myself (with the one unfortunate exception of a particularly depressing year of college fueled by a lot of Law & Order and toast)...I go to the gym, I lift weights, I do aerobics, kickboxing, yoga, and did dance and cheerleading in high school...I'm not a total lot cause, I just always believed running was not my calling because let's face it, I'm shaped like classic glassware, and I just always figured my joints couldn't handle it, because...well...I guess 'cause my mom told me they couldn't, and why question momma?

Anyway...the bottom line is, this weekend I did something to prove myself wrong. This weekend, on Saturday, the 15th of November, I RAN A HALF MARATHON. That's right folks...13.1 miles...and I ran the whole way.

Remember...

This
Not ThisNow, I know for some of you this is not a big deal...10 miles is like a leisure run for you. Again, a little more context...after we ran the mile for gym class I had to excuse myself, and went and laid down on the cold cement floor in the locker room (I know, you're asking me "isn't the floor in the locker room disgusting? to which I will answer you..."ummm, yeah") because I nearly blacked out. Again...running, not my calling.

Still With Me...?

ThisNot This

Since moving out to DC I've just decided that it's time I do a few things I always told myself I could never do. One of those things included running a road race of some significant length. Now, to this point the closest I've come was my office 5K...not that 3.1 miles is something to scoff at...but it just wasn't enough. Why I felt the compulsion to jump to a half-marathon rather than a 10K or even a 10 miler I have no idea...but I did...and the craziest part is...

I liked it.
(okay, fine...I liked most of it..miles 9-12 I could have done without...but you get the idea)

No kidding. I had a blast. The race was so fun, and I actually found myself smiling as I chugged along mile marker after mile marker. Maybe I was smiling because I knew I was about to accomplish something I thought was impossible...maybe it was because the inhabitants of Richmond had come out in full force and were camped out on their lawns waving flags and blowing noisemakers cheering on perfect strangers towards the finish line...maybe it was the satisfaction of passing that really fit looking African guy (don't worry, I'm pretty sure he was injured as there is no way I would have passed him otherwise..and yes, I know I'm profiling here...forgive me)...regardless of what it was...I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Particularly the finishing part...


The Richmond Half Marathon winds its way through downtown Richmond, VA as well as through some of the surrounding neighborhoods. The bulk of the course is quite flat with some barely intelligible changes in incline as you go along. My personal opinion on hills is that while they are a beast to get up, the pay off of getting to run with gravity on the other side is totally worth it...and by about mile 11 I was really ready to see some downhill. As I came around the final bend in the course and I could actually see the finish line and realized I was standing atop a fairly decent sized hill (possibly the only one in Richmond) but wasn't quite sure how I got there because you don't remember running up anything that significant...at that point, however, I didn't much care because I'd just run 12.6 miles and could see the goal at the bottom of that hill. It felt like I was flying.


I was only conscious enough of my feet to try and keep myself from completely eating it on the downhill (does it still count as a "strong finish" if you roll across the finish line?) but I ran as fast as I could (yes, I think I even managed what would qualify as a sprint). When I crossed the finish line I was completely out of breath, but so overjoyed to have finished strong that I was nearly in tears. As I gasped for breath one of the men handing out medals asked "Are you okay?" and all I could get out between gasps was "No, I'm great!"

Cheezy? Totally. But it's true. I don't know what felt better...knowing that I didn't have to run anymore or knowing that I had just proved myself wrong. In the end all the training, all the blisters, and all the sweat, tears, and pain that went into preparation were worth it. I didn't set any records, that's for sure (as in, the guy who won the marathon ran it 22 minutes faster than I ran the half) but I did something I had always told myself I could never do. I ran 13.1 miles. On top of that, I enjoyed running 13.1 miles. I'm really not too worried about what all the pounding is doing to my knees...my brain on the other hand is a completely different story...

Many kudos to all those who pushed me through, encouraged me, and expressed their admiration at my apparent insanity. I couldn't have done it without you. Big time props to Josh M for signing up for the dang thing with me and training despite some serious aches, pains, and scheduling issues...you were a champ and our weekend in Richmond will forever live in infamy...So, the bottom line is, never write yourself off. You may find you actually enjoy doing something you never thought you were capable of, and that it teaches you a lot about yourself while you're doing it. You may even cultivate a little self control and discipline along the way (not saying I did...I definitely had a milkshake to celebrate...I'm just saying some people might...)

So, as it turns out I'm kind of hooked and am looking forward to the next one. Should be ready to go as soon as all the scabs heal over...

Oh, and by the way...

ThisNot ThisThere's crazy, and then there's suicidal...I'll stick with just plain crazy, thanks very much.



12 comments:

Miluska said...

I am SO proud of you. Bien hecho!!

Deja said...

So wonderfully told! And congrats!

I LOVE that you had a milkshake to celebrate.

JD said...

good motivational speech. and great visuals. congrats on the finish!

Mike and Emily said...

Yay AMANDA!!!! I'm so proud of you! I'm still working up to the 3.1 miles. And by that, I mean that a few months ago I ran a few miles around the block. Slow, but steady, baby!

MomAlicia said...

I didn't say you couldn't do it, I believe what I said was, "Don't ruin your knees like your marathoning grandfather or your exercise crazed uncle." I'm so proud of you. I don't think I could have done that on my best day. I knew you could do it though, you've got grit, and you're dang funny too.

Marne said...

You are my hero!!!!

Anne said...

Yeah. I'm pretty sure 13.1 miles is still CRAZY! Then again, I didn't even make it a mile in high school and am pretty sure I have never run more than that at one time in my life! :) You are amazing.

Nat said...

Amanda,
My dear!! You are amazing and I have found you!!! We have a blog too. Check it out at thayneandnatalie.blogspot.com. How are you? It's been soooooo long!!! I have a baby. He's a doll. Love him so much. Anyways, it's good to see your blog.

Wendy said...

Great to catch up tonight--huge congrats on the run!!! Best, Wendy

annie said...

i am SO proud of you! and great visuals :D

you in for the ragnar with us next year?

Jan said...

I have yet to attempt a 1/2 marathon. Congrats on your incredible tenacity.

No one doubted you could pull it off. Your aaaaaawesome.

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