Hello Finish Line!

Finish Line crossed! YAHOO!

(Hope you could see my finish in that super speedy finish clip!)

Yesterday I got to do what I’ve been waiting to do for four years. I crossed a finish line. It’s been a long time coming and it felt amazing. If you don’t know the back story, read this post from a couple weeks ago.

Cappy’s Boxing Gym, where I’ve spent many hours training in over the last couple years has this great saying, “Training is your trophy.” This is so true. The hard work is all in the training. You put hours of sweat and energy into training for one event that last a fraction of the time of the training. The event itself is exciting and invigorating. The training can be grueling. For me, I train alone, 100% of the time. Every mile I run is by myself. Everytime I push myself it is the voice in my own head that makes me push harder and faster. It can be really draining. To be honest, I’m not that exciting. I get quite bored with myself and my own thoughts. This can make 2 hour runs very l…o…n…g…

So when race day comes along and I get to run with oh, say, 14,000 other people, it is REALLY exciting. That is just how yesterday was. Super exciting! From 6:30 am when I arrived on the course, there was this crazy energy that was completely contagious. You can’t help but get all riled up to hit the start line. I was lucky to be able to start the race with my friend, Chris. This is a very crowded (annoyingly crowded) race. It’s hard to set your pace because for the first 3 miles you’re just jockeying for a good position to set your own pace. Frustrating. The first time I did the Seattle Half Marathon in 1998 it was not like this at all. But 13.1 miles has become a very popular race distance, so this race has become overcrowded. Hey, I can’t complain too much. As a personal trainer, it’s really exciting to see so many people show up to run 13.1 miles at the end of November when chances are, it will be rainy, freezing and quite miserable in Seattle. But, as a runner, it is a challenging way to start a race. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Chris and I had to hop a race blockade AFTER the start gun went off in order to get through the mob to the start line. C-r-a-z-y!

So, after a few miles I settled into my pace and felt pretty strong. I was able to stay on top of my nutrition and hydration the entire race. This is KEY! Having eaten breakfast hours before the race, I always have to refuel fairly early in the race. Eating and running is a delicate balance. But I was able to keep it all dialed in yesterday. Additionally, I’ve discovered caffeinated Clif Shot Blocks. One must be very careful with caffeine on the run. I know I can’t tolerate much, but a little makes a big difference for me. This is important to test in training runs, or you will find yourself in the porta-potty line mid race – no fun!!

At about mile 7 one of my clients, Ben, jumped into run with me. This was right before the biggest hill in the race, so I thought he was just going to run the hill with me (as I did with him for his first marathon.) But, what an amazing client and friend, he ran the rest of the race with me! So I had a running buddy for the last 6 miles. It was AWESOME! Not that I was the best company. I was really boring, actually. I was definitely focused and not too chatty. But Ben, having done a couple marathons, totally got that. So he just stayed by my side or within a few steps of me the rest of the way. It was like a little angel there beside me. If I wanted to talk I could talk. If I wanted to be quiet I could be quiet. But I could not stop. I could not slow down. I could not back off. That’s the beauty of having someone you know beside you. Of course, Ben would have piggy backed me to the end if I asked him to. He was there to do whatever I asked of him. But for me, having him there was a reminder to push myself and show off my training. And so I pushed. I did not give up. I picked up my pace on every downhill to make up any time I could.

I typically really struggle from mile 10-12. This is where my head gets the best of me. But I didn’t struggle this time. I think it was having someone right beside me. It didn’t allow me to doubt myself. I just had to charge ahead. Mile 12 was another story. I got really stiff and my legs got soooo tired. I really didn’t think I’d have anything left to rush the finish line. When I watch the video finish above I have to laugh. When I entered Memorial Stadium I pushed my legs with everything I had left in me. I felt myself get faster and I even passed a few people as I approached the line. But when I watch the video I can see that I’m not moving that fast – even though in my head I was flying. Although, that’s really not important.

What is important is that I crossed the line. I finished in exactly the time I predicted. I felt really strong (until that last mile). The sense of accomplishment that comes with all of this is huge. It brings me tremendous peace to prove to myself that I can do this. My legs are stiff and my hips ache a bit. My nerves are shot today. I’m tired but I can’t really sleep. This is all as it should be. When you prepare your body to push, really push, these are the results. I love these results. It means I did something that many people can’t do. Wait, let me rephrase. I did something many people choose not to do. Really, a lot people *can* run 13.1 miles. But most people don’t want to put in the time, the training, the discipline. That is why it means so much to me. It is a badge of honor to train for such an event. Regardless of your finish time. Regardless of the distance. To set a big goal, a goal that may be unattainable, and then chip away week after week, hoping that your training will result in a completed event is something to be proud of. The training truly is the trophy.

My other trophies yesterday included wine, cheese and chocolate chip cookie dough.

So many of you have sent words of encouragement over the last couple weeks. Thank you so much for pushing me, inspiring me and believing in me. I was the most confident I’ve ever been when I hit that start line yesterday. I knew I was going to perform, because all of you had my back. It was the perfect day. I could not have done it without my Sync Fitness family. Thank you my friends!