June 23, 2011 § 8 Comments
Three weeks ago my friends Lacy, Lindsey, and Alex told me they were going to run the Jackson Hole half-marathon on June 18.
Three weeks ago I decided I would run with them.
Ever since my other friends and family excitedly told me about their half-marathon experiences, I always thought it would be fun to try. I ran a 5K in Waxhaw and savored the adrenaline rush of running with a mob of people who all have the same goal in mind. I figured it must be even more rewarding to go 13.1 miles (22K).
But after pressing the button to send in my race registration online, I freaked out. I only have three weeks to train to run 13.1 miles in high elevation?! The most I’ve ever run is 6 miles in low elevation!
Yet, my friends encouraged me that it wouldn’t be that bad since I’ve been running for the past few years. So then the training began.
I did shorter runs most days, and one long run a week. The first week, I ran an 8 mile long run. I was exhausted and sore and felt like my pace was that of an 80-year-old turtle.
The next week I ran 10. When I got home my legs had turned into pad thai noodles.
Then I ran 11. My whole body was yelling at me the rest of the day and wouldn’t forgive me until I took a nap and ate everything in the cafeteria.
Yet, after my 11-mile run I was a bit disappointed. It was my last run before the big day, and I hadn’t kept up the pace I needed to complete the race in my goal of 2:10.
But despite all that, the Jackson Hole Half-Marathon began at 8 a.m. last Saturday. It was crisp, sunny, and the Grand Tetons were glowing as we all lined up next to them at the starting line.
I let the super fast people pass me, and I kept a steady pace and just took in the Jackson surroundings: the yellow wildflowers, the vibrant green grass, the towering snowy mountain range, the bubbling brooks swirling past me, the vivid blue sky with wisps of cotton clouds. Dom and Georgi drove along us, stopping to take pictures as we ran and giving us smiles. The scenery and the boys took my mind off how faraway the finish line was, and I just enjoyed myself—until mile 10.
Then I stopped smiling at the screaming people pulled over in their cars to cheer us on, and the people sitting on their lawn chairs encouraging us as they sipped lemonade. I was in a daze. Only focused on making my legs move faster, and my body staying upright.
At mile 12.5, the finish line wasn’t even in sight for what felt like 10 hours. But finally the white balloon arch rose in the distance. I picked up my speed, and sprinted across the finish line with my time flashing on the digital sign: 2:09!
I was so happy, thirsty, and exhausted. I stumbled over to the Muscle Milk table and downed one that tasted like life-giving chocolate elixir. Then Dom came over and hugged me, saying he was so proud, and he is running with me next time.
I can’t wait. I wonder how I will do next time with a few months training rather than three weeks and an awesome training buddy.