I have had a goal in my head since I was nineteen years old (I’m twenty six), that I would break a two hour half marathon. My dad and I ran our first in 2012 with a time like…2:31 or 2:29 or something. Ever since my first run, I decided I was breaking two hours, even if it killed me.
Saturday I was on cloud 9 (after breaking down because I kept getting lost in Toledo and couldn’t find John). I watched Magic Mike destroy his first 5k, the kids absolutely KILL their kid run, and pick up my packet for the Glass City Half Marathon on Sunday. It was a beautiful day and overall incredibly positive. I was so proud. I got to be the cool aunt who gets to experience all the happiness and joy of being around kids, but then got to give them back. It was perfect.
Sunday rolls around. 4:15am wake up. Make some food. Meet at Carrie’s to drive up to Toledo. I’m exhausted. I don’t feel well. My nose is all runny and gross. It’s pouring. I was not excited…until I started to see a ton of people walking the streets with their bib numbers showing. After shitting and peeing like twelve times (each), John, Jay, Carrie, and I finally made our way to the starting line. Naturally, we showed up just as we were about to start. Sounds about right.
The first three miles were a game of Frogger. It was constant weaving in and out of people and trying to establish a consistent pace. Somehow, the four of us stayed together…until Gramps (aka John) pulled off to use the bathroom three miles in. Mile four and I was in hell. Mental and physical hell. I was not the cocky runner that I started off as at the beginning of the day. I was the “please Lord baby Jesus help me not fall over” runner. Mile five I had a shot block thing and felt a little bit better, but it did not last long. By mile six, John caught back up. At that point, I was behind either Carrie, Jay, or John staring at their calves and openly muttering “plus one” to myself. Plus one step. Plus one mile. Then came mile ten. There was no more plus one. Jay turned to give me another block thing and asked if I was okay. *Begin panting and wheezing* NO.
Anyone who knows me knows I suffer from some pretty intense anxiety. It has now gotten to the point that I panic when I exercise. Know how people breathe when they’re having an asthma attack? That was me. Jay asked me if I wanted to stop. I said no. He asked me what my favorite Harry Potter movie was. I said ;KDFJA;LKJFAL;DK (aka incoherent babbling) and then held up three fingers (the third one is dope). At some point, the panic subsided and I just kept running. The whole time. Even up the stupid hill around mile 12. Then what did I do? I sprinted the last quarter mile. Somehow. Guess what? I finished in 1:59:32. Twenty-eight seconds under my goal. Did Jay know I was going to sprint? No…haha. I didn’t either. I just knew I had a goal and I was going to do it.
But what I learned about this is NOT how to run a half marathon sub-two hours. I learned that I can do things. I have underestimated myself WAY more than I have let on. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do an Ironman partly because of the mental aspect of it. I didn’t feel tough enough. If anything, I learned that I’m one strong badass chick. Not many people can struggle through for nine miles, panic and hyperventilate, but still not quit. For the first time in a STUPID long time, I can honestly say I am proud of myself. I’m so proud of what not only I, but WE accomplished that day. We made a point—we’re tough af.
I haven’t been happier than the moment I realized we made it in a LONG time. True happiness. Pushing myself to do something I didn’t know I could do. Accomplishing the goal. Surrounding myself with the people I do. I have become a more authentic and happy person through this process. Training for this Ironman has been the best thing that could have happened to me. It has taught me discipline, two new skills (biking and swimming), time management, and to ENJOY THE JOURNEY. And that last one, my friends, is going to be applied to the rest of my life. If, for any reason, I don’t finish Ironman Ohio 70.3, it WON’T be because I quit. I can tell you that for sure.