Standing together at the starting line, I was still so nervous, but James looked at me and smiled and said “you got this.” The race started and once we were underway, my nerves immediately melted away.
Around 6:30 a.m., I had gone outside to check on the weather to make sure we were dressing appropriately. While I was out there, I prayed to clear my head. I asked for no injuries to James and I and that the race would go well for us, that it would be the best run we’ve had.
When I made my playlist on Friday, I decided that I would play the song via shuffle so that I would never know how far down the playlist I was, and it would keep things interesting. The first song (out of 44 songs on the playlist) that came on when the race started was the one song I always listen to when I need a confidence boost when running — Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger. I knew, at that moment, my prayers were answered and this was going to be an awesome race.
The half marathon course took us away from the lake, which meant that we immediately had to run straight up a hill. We definitely underestimated the hills in Lake Geneva. Milwaukee is hilly, so we thought we were adequately prepared. We were in no way prepared — these hills went straight up, and the elevation at the end of the race was much higher than the start, which means we never got to come back down the hills enough to make up for going up them.
Originally, we had discussed walking the hills if we need to to preserve energy, so that was in the back of my mind at every hill (and there were a lot). But neither of us ever gave the sign that it was time to walk a hill so we ran them all.
As we passed the 4, 5, and 6 mile markers, I felt great. My legs were great, my breathing was going well, and I felt strong. However, because of the 11 mile incident two weeks ago, I decided I needed a Gu before the water station at mile 7. So as we ran (up yet another hill), James and I each had a Gu that we washed down with some water. Unfortunately, to keep up with our goal of running the whole race, we had to drink on the run, which basically meant we were throwing water all over ourselves. Oh well.
Around this time, I saw a little girl (she was about 6) on the side of the road with her mom, and she was holding a sign that said “You look hot.” As I ran by her, the little girl pointed to the sign, then gave me a thumbs up. I started laughing, and I went at least a half mile without even thinking about running because I keep laughing to myself about that.
Also around this time, another little girl–probably two or three years old–was standing outside with her mom, cheering. As we ran by, James waved to the little girl and it melted my heart. He is the best.
Once we hit 8 miles, I started to get really excited. The 8 mile mark was the point in my 11 mile run that I knew I was done and the run became next to impossible. However, yesterday, at 8 miles I still felt great! Unfortunately, I made the mistake of telling myself that once we passed 9 miles, I knew we could run the whole thing. Of course, saying this meant that the distance between 8 and 9 miles was the longest of my life. I swear, it felt like running 4 miles in that time.
But then we did it. We passed the 9 mile marker, which meant in one short mile, there would be a water table. I knew getting that water would push me through to the 11 mile marker, and once we got to 11 miles, we were basically home free.
James and I got our water at 10 miles and made it to 11. As we were nearing 11, I started to get nervous. Not only was it the farthest distance I ran in training, it was also a terrible run that day. James knew that, and knew I needed encouragement, so he looked at me, smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I knew right then we could do this.
When we got to 12 miles (which still had some hills, even though I thought they were supposed to be done by mile 10. Oh well), we picked up our pace just a bit and started passing a few people — including the only other couples we saw running together (we were pretty happy that we were the first couple to finish the race out of all the other couples we saw).
As we got about a quarter mile from the finish, we actually started sprinting. We sprinted right passed my mom, who was cheering us on, and too fast for my dad to get a picture of us crossing the finish line.
We finished–together–in 2:16. That was faster than either of us expected. Because of the hills and our slow, steady pace, we thought we would be well over 2.5 hours. But we weren’t! We also both had a lot left in the tank. We definitely could have gone faster throughout the race, but we didn’t want to risk it, and who cares? We ran the entire 13.1 miles and did it under the 11 minute mile goal we set out for ourselves!
When we finished, a woman who had been running near us almost the entire time (but finished just behind us) came up and shook our hands. She said she had decided to pace with us and we pushed her to run her personal best half marathon. That was awesome to hear.
After James and I got our medals and some water, there were hugs galore between the two of us. Three months ago, we were struggling to run 5 miles. Yesterday, we ran 13.1.
I could dedicate a whole post to James, but to keep it short, I’ll just say that the best part about this half marathon experience over the past three months was how our relationship grew. Not that I needed any more evidence, but this proved that James is going to make the best husband. He has been my motivator, my supporter, he has pushed and encouraged me, and he has made me feel like I could do anything. He is my rock and I could not have done this without him. Although we already knew this, James and I are a team and I could not have asked for a better teammate for life.
After we finished, I already started talking about our next half marathon. He told me it was too soon to talk about — but that he wasn’t ruling it out. Plus, we have to run another one so that my dad can get a picture of us crossing the finish line
As soon as we got back to Milwaukee, we had the one thing we had both been craving for weeks — Pizza!!
Such a great reward for such an amazing day!
Thanks for listening to me ramble about one of the great accomplishments of my life I’m off to make some brunch for Mother’s Day, but I’ll report back on the other fun developments of the weekend, because apparently running a half wasn’t enough excitement!
Happy Mother’s Day!