This past Saturday I completed my second (ever) half-marathon. I feel like far too often people are inclined to then ask me how my time was, did I PR? Nope. I certainly didn’t. Do I feel defeated, though? Absolutely not!
I was thrilled to have my best friend (and husband) by my side for the race. This was his first half, and he was certainly my rock throughout the entire training process. He pushed me to go those extra miles, when all I wanted to do was go home and take a nap. He slowed down with me when I started to have some asthmatic symptoms (exercise-induced asthma is so fun to work with) and was always willing to let me take a hot bath after a long run while he prepared breakfast.
Instead of taking the easy route and running the race in Chicago, we trekked it to South Bend because I couldn’t think of anything better than finishing on the 50-yd line of Notre Dame Stadium.
We took the South Shore Line train into town and stayed the night at a hotel near the airport and just cabbed to the starting line in the morning. All very stress free — except I really wasn’t feeling myself. My whole body was sore and cramping all over — plus it was pretty chilly!
Brian is a much faster runner than I am, but he agreed to run the first 6 with me before taking off at his own pace. He prepared a “race mix” that started with slower, inspiring songs and lead up to faster, keep up the good work tracks. We made sure to start the mix at exactly the same time so that we both knew exactly what each other was listening to — it added a pretty fun aspect to the race.
On the train ride down I was explaining to Brian that South Bend really is a beautiful place — there’s the St. Joseph River, tons of parks and really adorable neighborhoods. He didn’t believe me. All he had ever seen was campus itself, and the back of a SUV filled with coolers of beer and mixers for tailgating before the games. This race course zigged and zagged through such beautiful areas of South Bend, it was all the convincing he needed. It was absolutely GORGEOUS. Miles 7-9 especially so — a path along the river.
Brian had long taken off and sped away from me as I turned one corner, just before mile 11, to see a (in my eyes at least) ridiculously steep hill. Really? A completely flat course until you get to the ELEVENTH MILE! Needless to say, I walked up the hill, and the next, and the next. (What is it with me and terrible 11th miles during races?!)
As my legs tired, I was looking forward to two things — 1) crossing the finish line on the 50-yd line and 2) breakfast in South Dining Hall. I know I may sound crazy, but I am still in love with my college cafeteria dining hall. For someone as indecisive as me about my dining preferences, it offers absolutely everything. For breakfast alone there are over 20 different types of cereal, make-your-own omelet/scramble, make-your-own waffle, quiche, benedict, hash browns, huevos rancheros, you name it and they have it. For lunch or dinner you can have pasta, stir fry, pizza, rotisserie style meats, skirt steak, mashed potatoes, sushi, two salad bars, tacos, fajitas, gosh I could go on and on. So — for miles 12-13 I was basically planning my meal. And listening to Carly Rae Jepsen, of course.
As I turned to enter the stadium, tears welled up in my eyes thinking, “My life is so different than when I was a student here. So different, and wonderful and awesome, but what I wouldn’t give to be a student again.” About the things I would do differently and the things I would do exactly the same. Who are the friends I would have spent more time with and who are those that I would have been okay not chasing. Considering the dreams that I had then and still do, and even more reflective of the dreams I had then and now seem a distant flicker. A lot crossed through my mind in that .1 mile. And as I crossed the finish line I received my medal and looked up to see Brian — standing there with a smile ear to ear. Either he was proud of me, or bragging that he finished almost 30 minutes ahead of me. I chose to believe the proud:)
So — after all those miles, the sweat, and the tears as I jogged into the stadium, I limped over to the dining hall excited beyond belief. I was so ready to re-create some of my favorite dining hall concoctions. And you know what? It was closed.
Sometimes you can’t just go back and expect it to be the same. It’s not, and that’s ok. That doesn’t mean I love it any less. 🙂