I just want to preface this with a quick recap of where I come from if you don’t already know, because that is really what makes this an amazing achievement for me.
Here’s my one year running anniversary post and below a brief overview of my running history pertinent to this post…
I started running in July of 2012, barely able to run a quarter mile. I did Couch to 5k with a friend, condensing it into only 3 weeks (instead of 9) to run our first 5k together. The first time within those 3 weeks that we ran 2 straight miles without stopping, we hugged each other in celebration! I was hooked after that first 5k. I’ve done 32 races since August of 2013: 5ks, a 10k, a half marathon, obstacle course races and triathlons.
This was my second half marathon ( here’s the review from last month’s). My longest non-stop run prior to this race was probably 7 miles. I’m always taking walking breaks. Originally, I had planned to make this my first full marathon, but knew that when my goals changed to focus on bodybuilding and I wasn’t concentrating on getting the training mileage, that I needed to drop to the half.
My boyfriend, Dion, took part in this race as well. This time it was over an hour away, so we had to be up by 5:30am. Now, I’m used to waking up early during the week for the gym, but for some reason I couldn’t get myself going that morning. I even fell asleep in the middle of writing an email to my trainer on the way there!
I also noticed in the car that my debit card was missing from my wallet. I had very little cash. It was Sunday so no banks were open. I was panicking about whether or not I got the card back in the Starbucks drive-thru in Grand Rapids the night before… even called them to check. No dice. Then, I found it between the seat and center console when we arrived at the race. Relief!
My stress level was coming down, but I still wasn’t in the mood to run when we lined up.
The half marathon started at 8:20am. Even running the 5k didn’t seem appealing at this point. I decided that I needed to just focus on keeping a steady pace and an upbeat attitude for this race, not worry about my time or making it through the whole 13.1 miles. I didn’t feel like being there, so I definitely didn’t want to exhaust myself 3 miles into it and have to go another 10 walking.
Dion started off next to me, as he usually does, then took off weaving through the crowd after the gun. I like that we can be together at the beginning to wish each other luck.
I kept my pace even, running around 10:00-10:15 minute miles. Nice and steady. My playlist was full of Eminem, Rob Bailey & the Hustle Standard and metal. Let’s do this.
The course winded through the streets of Concord for the first mile, down a couple hills (in the back of my mind I was dreading that I would have to run back up them in the last mile of the race), then continued onto a paved trail.
Michigan is beautiful in the fall. I focused on the leaves changing colors, falling on the path, looked out at the small lakes as I ran past… kept my mind on nature, music and my steady breath and strides.
A couple miles in, my long sleeve was becoming too hot as the temperature started to rise and the sun warmed me. I had pinned my bib to the long sleeve, but not wanting to stop, I managed to continue running while repinning the bib to my t-shirt. Victory! Wish I had used my race belt! I tied the long sleeve around my waist for the rest of the race. It ended up being PERFECT running weather for me.
After the 3 mile mark, I thought about how I had 10 miles left, but I was feeling very strong, even happy. FINALLY excited to be there racing.
Around 5 miles, I knew that the lead runners would soon be coming back toward me on the out and back style course. When I first started racing, it would depress me on a 5k that barely a mile in, the lead runners would be coming back towards me. Now, I like to cheer other runners on when I’m on courses like this. It’s not depressing anymore, because I’m comfortable with my fitness level. I make it fun.
So, I’m fairly certain that I said “Good job” or something to that effect to every single person who did the half marathon or damn close to it. I would clap and smile as I ran and yell to them. Many, like myself, were wearing headphones, but could see or hear me still. I got so many smiles. Love that. Cheering for them kept me from thinking about how far I had left to go as well.
As I approached the turn around (averaging 10:40 pace at this point), I realized that I felt much better than the last half marathon. I had been thinking that I might take a short walk break at the midpoint, but I felt so good I kept running. I cheered for the runners and walkers who hadn’t reached the turnaround yet as I continued.
This is the point where an older man started running by me. I can’t remember how we started talking, but he was also encouraging other runners and we were waving and clapping together. His name was Ken and we talked about how I’d lost over 50 pounds and how much better I felt at this race than my last half. He told me about a friend of his who had stage 4 breast cancer and was a runner. She’d overcome it and was back to running. He was wearing a homemade shirt for awareness.
It was pretty neat running and being able to actually have a conversation 6.5+ miles into a race. In the past, I would have been out of breath.
Ken invited me to join Run JunkEes Facebook Group. (I found his Facebook through the group after I joined.) We ran together for nearly a mile when he started to pull ahead of me. I decided to keep my pace steady instead of keeping up with him. I needed to stick to my plan.
Around mile 9, my back started to hurt. I have a desk job and chronic lower back pain is one of my battles. I pushed on though, blocking out the pain.
At mile 10, I was thinking, ONLY A 5K LEFT! I do them all the time! There was even a guy running/walking/struggling near me and I said that to him, “Only a 5k left!” He returned my excitement.
At this point, I was getting overwhelmed by emotions and almost started crying. My pace was getting slower, but I’d never ran 10 straight miles. I was so close to finishing a half marathon without walking. I CAN DO THIS!
Even at the water stations, I ran and carried my cup. No stopping until 13.1.
As I entered the last mile, I knew that one large hill was coming, followed by some small upward slopes. I rounded the corner on the hill, and slowly but surely, kept running. There was a man sitting on the curb and I said, “This is really cruel in the last mile!”
Last half mile… I could see the finish line approaching… BLAST, a turn around the block. I’ve been tricked! Keep running, Addie.
I can see the inflatable over the finish. I know that Dion is waiting for me. I make the turn for the final stretch, and I feel relief rushing over me. I’ve made it. I pick up the pace and feel the smile overtaking my face as I cross the finish line.
When they handed me the finisher medal, I started to cry. I was completely overcome by the accomplishment: 13.1 miles of non-stop running. Even doing 5ks, I often walk a bit because I don’t pace myself well. I let my head take over when my legs should be thinking for me.
Dion came over, amazed by how much faster I was than last time. I hugged him and cried. Told him I hadn’t stopped running. I want to share what he wrote on the Fit.Fat.Fut. Facebook Page…
” I’ve been so lucky to have Addie’s company at so many races over the last 4 months and am continually amazed at the progress I’ve seen in her over that time. I wanted to share a few more details about today’s race with Fit Fat Fut followers so you can know how awesome Addie’s victory today really is.
As Addie mentioned in her picture, we ran the Wildlife Half Marathon in Concord. To save on hotel costs we got up at 5:30 to drive the hour and a half to the race. Addie was f’n tired. She looked like a kid that was being dragged to school on a weekend. She didn’t want to run, she had zero excitement for it, she even nodded off while sending an email during the commute. Despite all that, she still ran.
We separated at the start, but I saw her again after the turn around point. She was clapping and even smiling. I have run quite a few races with Addie and this was the first time I have ever seen her smile [during a race], and midway through a half of all things.
The next time I saw her, she was crossing the finish line over 15 minutes faster than the last half marathon that she ran just 4 weeks ago. Even better, she did not walk once, not even at water stations! We ran a 10k six weeks ago and she even had to walk some of that.
This is a huge improvement in just 6 weeks! Addie has been 100% dedicated to her training and diet. I hear so many excuses from people who want to get in shape but claim to have all kinds of reasons not to put in the dedication. With her 2 kids, 3 jobs, and being overweight most of her life, Addie could make excuses with the best of them, but she doesn’t and look how far this dedication has brought her.
Rather than just praising her, however, everyone should go one step further and be inspired by her. The next time an excuse enters your mind; too tired, long hours at the job, at home with kids, sick, anything, think of Addie and just do what ever it takes to reach your goals, just find away around the excuse.
Amazing run today Addie!”
Yay for the supportive people in my life. Especially Dion who really pushes me to do things I never felt capable of doing.
Not stopping for the entire 13.1 miles on a day that I didn’t even feel like running knocked down a lot of my mental barriers. My legs can take me anywhere as long as I don’t let my brain shut them down.