our first half marathon!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

we did it!  we ran our first ever half marathon (13.1 miles!) this past Sunday in Pittsburgh and lived to tell the tale.
More then lived, maybe even loved?

I wrote a few weeks ago about my journey to learning to enjoy running (you can find that post here), and over the course of the last few weeks, we've continued to train and get ready for the race.  The Sunday before the race, B and I ran together for the first time for about eight miles as our last long run before the big day.

We were both feeling pretty good about the race and went through our week totally normal; parenting, work days, baseball games, chores.  It felt kind of weird and we kept commenting to each other like, "wait, are we supposed to be doing something to prepare for this weekend?" Pretty sure downing a whole Big Daddy pizza and a dozen wings as a family, three nights before a half marathon isn't traditional behavior, but ya know #baseballseason

So on Saturday, we hung around our house getting random chores finished up. I had the girls each pick a hand to paint my nails in 'fast' colors and Grey sharpie'ed a motivational message for me so they could be 'with me' during the race.  

And then, as I was beginning to pack the kids' bags up for their sleepover at my parents' house, I started getting weirdly emotional.  Brandon even called me out and was like, 'what the heck is going on with you?' and that's when the flood gates broke.  I was half sobbing/half laughing at myself as I could hear the literal crazy coming out of my mouth, but man, there was no stopping it.  Some of my spiral of defeat went like this....

"...but there are people out there that make goals about running fast and really pushing themselves...and mine is to just finish, no matter how slow?! is that even a goal worth attempting, really though!?  And I'm not a good runner, and so then why am I trying to shine a light on this thing that I'm not good at which is only holding up a mirror reflection to all the other things I'm not good at.  Like maybe if I was a better runner, I'd be faster and more in shape.  And maybe if I was a better mother and wife this house would not be a disaster all the time and maybe if I was better at life, things would be finished and organized and I'd have a handle on things that are coming at us constantly..."  

and Brandon looked at me with that 'this-chick-is-so-cray-right-now' look and said with all the love and support he could muster, "honey, you never give yourself enough credit.  you are good enough, more than good enough in everything, but I think you need to talk to your sister right now." HAHAHAHA.  #hegetsme

So I texted Kayla with "call me when you can - I'm having an emotional breakdown about the race" and she called from the bachelorette party she was attending within thirty seconds to confirm that:Yes this emotional breakdown was normal after months of training for something that feels so impossible and also, Yes, don't be surprised if I spend the whole night throwing up (I didn't, thankfully).  Even just hearing that my crazy was not all that crazy in the scope of training made me feel better.  I was still an emotional basket-case for the rest of the night - but at least I knew that it was normal - after months of training for this one big event - to feel insane.  

We dropped the kids off at my parents' house, made a stop at Walmart to pick up Pedialyte (Brandon's go-to self-prescribed medication for feeling healthy), Baked Ziti grocery items (carb-up dinner!) and some energy chews for during the race because we wanted to pretend we were real racers. 

Then it was up and out the door before 5am to make the hour and a half trip into Pittsburgh, in which I was a nervous wreck because as we were getting there, the roads started closing and it was only about forty minutes until the start and we finally pulled into a parking garage.  Kayla was there at our starting corral with our race bibs and we got a final squeeze and good luck from her (our personal training coach!) before heading into the starting area.  

There were a ton of people and we were in the last corral because = slow.  So it took almost an hour before we even got to the actual start of our heat.  (thank goodness after all the parking panicking).  It was incredible to see all the people huddled together.  Half marathon runners, Relay runners, full marathoners.  Runners  by themselves, couples like us, groups of friends, Moms and daughters, Runners who were twice my age, Runners carrying the American flag, Runners with banners attached to them, "I run for Grandma Lucy." 

And then we were off and moving.  The first two miles were jam-packed with people (and truthfully the first two miles are always my most hateful), but then the skies turned blue and sun peeked out, and all the runners started getting into their own grooves and we all continued on.  

I knew from even before our race that Brandon and my strides were so different in length and it was one of my biggest worries leading into the race.  I didn't want him to hold back - not because he's some speed racer or anything (he's not), he's just taller than me by quite a bit, and so at about mile 4 I told him to just run at a comfortable speed, to quit slowing down or turning around to look for me. And so we both took what was left of those 13.1 miles at our own comfortable strides and watched the beautiful city of Pittsburgh and all those sideline cheerleaders go by.  

The greatest thing about all races, are the people that show up to cheer for the runners.  I feel passionately about this because I have that gene inside of my soul - that Life Cheerleader gene.  The gene that allows you to be truly, genuinely joyful at the sight of anyone who is stretching their own comforts.  To celebrate the joy of others, even complete strangers, because joy is joy and accomplishment and success to anyone is also to the benefit of all of us.  

Suffice to say I was choked up at the signs, high fives, cheers, and support for the entire race.  
There were local bands rocking out and pumping us all up, 
a huge line of young people in army greens offering high fives up the length of one of the hills, 
there was a joyful, jumping woman all alone on the last hill with a hand written sign that we all needed to see at just that moment that said "Only 1.4 miles left!"  
One lady around the 8.5 mile mark looked me right in the face as I was turning the corner and said directly to me, "You still look strong! Keep going!" 
There was an incredible woman around mile 11 that yelled to us - me and the whole group of people running at our slow and steady pace, "This race isn't for the swift or the strong, It's for those that endure!" 
The high five from a familiar face with less than a half mile to go (hi Stacey!)
And the text message from B when I told him I was at the 12mile marker and he replied, "I'm proud of you, mostly downhill from there, keep coming! I have a kiss waiting for you" 

And then, I was at the finish line.  2 hours and 56 minutes later, I had run 13.1 miles on my own two feet.  Running the whole time, at my own comfortable, slow pace.  I didn't hate any of it, at no point did I think "I can't do this," I just took it one step at a time until the end.  (Bud ran it in 2 hours and 33 minutes).

I think the greatest thing I learned about running in this whole process - even back to three years ago when I was training for my first 5k - is that it doesn't have to be terrible.  For my whole life, I thought runners were gluttons for misery, just why? Why are you doing this thing that is so miserable the entire time - but I only thought it was miserable because I didn't know you could run at the speed that feels comfortable to you.  My body is not made to run at Brandon's speed in neither length, build, nor athleticism - but it can still go.  It just goes at my speed which is slower than many, but still forward moving.  To say that I ran 13.1 miles and not at any point did I think I couldn't, nor say to myself 'this is awful,' is a lesson in an of itself.

It was also our official introduction to the running community.  Since it was screen free week, we hadn't posted anything about the race on social media that week, but you know who texted us the night before?  Our friends who are runners, because they remembered and thought to send us some love and encouragement.  Texts that said "Thinking about you! Good luck tomorrow" from Kate & Michael, Karpy, Tausha, Albert & Heather, Randy, and Aunt Lisa - all of whom have trained and run their own races.  

My sis Kayla, who emotionally supported me the entire time of my training and met us at the starting line with bibs, pins, and hugs - who teared up and told all of her friends how proud she was of her big sis (love you xxoxo).  My parents who watched the kids overnight and organized a surprise cake and cards upon return.  Taryn and Dobber who kept open an invitation to use their house as a sleeping spot in the city for us in case we needed it on Race Day eve. And our closest family and friends who listened intently as we re-hashed every single triumphant, unexciting, tmi moment of the race.  My blog friend and fellow runner, Ashley, who snailed me a good luck card weeks before the race, and the Fiore family who surprised us with a delivery of our favorite popcorn trio tin and a congratulations note. And everyone, so many friends!, who sent us congratulation messages through facebook and texts after we finished. 

We were not the fastest, but we did reach a PR - as they say in the running world - our own Personal Record of finishing a half marathon for the first time ever.  So, what I'm trying to say is - we did something that not long ago felt like it was an impossibility.  Like literally, a physical impossibility.  And so can you.  Whether it's running Or writing.  Or creating.  Or finishing, or accomplishing, or trying whatever it is that you view as a pipe dream.

And also, cheer for those that are running.  Or writing.  Or creating.  Or finishing, or accomplishing, or trying whatever it is that they view as a pipe dream.

We can do those things because of the support from those that cheer us on. And those that cheer us on get inspired from supporting those that do.  And then they try to do those things and get support from those that cheer them on. And then so on and so on forever.

We can do great things because of each other.

thank you to all who cheered for us.
those we know and those we never will.
Know, to each and all of you out there in the world,
we are always cheering for you.


  1. So proud of you!!! That's an AMAZING accomplishment no matter how you look at it. Seiler was there too...I should have told him to look for you!

  2. SO happy for you!! I read this post with goosebumps down my arms...there really is nothing like it. You've inspired me to be brave and look up some races again :)