I have asthma – adult onset, exercise induced. I am not fat, and not thin – just average. I’m short. I was never a runner. I pronate severely (my feet roll inward when I walk), and have struggled through the pain of shin splints several times. And a few weeks ago, I turned 40. Yet despite all this lack of athleticism, this morning, I completed my seventh half-marathon. It was the inaugural Woodinville Wine Country Half-Marathon.
I haven’t really been training. Last year, after the Oregon Wine Country Half-Marathon, my girlfriends were split on the idea of doing it again. As it turns out, the decision was made for me – they moved the Labor Day weekend race to August – on one of the weekends when Jon and I would be in Colorado. I was disappointed, but then I was also kind of ok with the idea of not doing a half-marathon this year. I haven’t been keeping up with exercise as well as I ought to. Then my friend Katie asked if I wanted to do the first Wine Country Half in Woodinville. It was only a month away. I said, “Why not?”
In that month, I did exactly one 8 mile walk/jog. And the usual couple times a week 4-5 mile walks. I didn’t feel prepared. I figured I would be happy just finishing, and wouldn’t worry about my time.
This morning, we drove to the race, and started a few minutes after 7. Jon started near the front; Katie and I lined up at the back. We stood next to the 3 hour pace runner, but I had no expectation that I would do a 3 hour race. A shin splint was bugging me early on, before settling down in the second mile.
The 3 hour pace runner passed me. But then I passed her; and pulled away just a little bit. And as the miles ticked off, I was still just a little way ahead of her. I began to second guess – she must be setting the wrong pace. She must be running too slow for a 3 hour finish! I stayed ahead. I never really let myself believe that I was really doing so well.
Between mile 5 and 6 I first started to notice the blister on the bottom sole of my right foot – it hurt more when I jogged, but I kept pushing myself to jog for periods of time. Between mile 8 and 9 keeping up my intermittent jogging was getting really hard. Between mile 10 and 11, I started to think that my music was really annoying, and the sooner I finished, the sooner I could turn it off!
Mile 11 was the longest mile ever! When I hit the beginning of mile 12, I looked at the clock and realized the pacer might be right. I thought I would finish just a few minutes past my best time ever. I tried to keep up my pace. In the last tenth of a mile, rounding the curve, and seeing the finish clock, I realized I was really close to my personal record – I could beat it!
I found just enough gas at the end to sprint (my sprint – which is pretty slow) across the finish line. Jon had finished almost an hour and a half earlier, and he was waiting at the finish for me, to cheer me on.
I didn’t know if I had beaten my previous record until hours later when the official times were posted. But I did! My finish time, and my new personal record, was 2 hours, 56 minutes, and 23 seconds. I trimmed 18 teeny, tiny seconds off my old record. But in doing that, I also trimmed off a big chunk of self-doubt, the kind that says, “You are 40 now – it is just downhill from here.” I got this!