I’m running a Turkey Trot tomorrow that I quite honestly don’t give a fux about (I mean, it’s a $10 5 miler, let’s be real). Nah, the real reason I don’t care is because I ran my first half marathon about two and a half weeks ago. I had serious doubts about how it would go, especially after the tumultuous weeks leading up to race day. School, an internship, and a job are a lot to pile on top of half marathon training. Further, I was still hurting (just slightly) from a shitty break up, and my grandmother had passed at the hands of the monster we call cancer exactly one week before the day of my race. Both turned out to be some serious blessings that opened my mind and my life to new opportunities. That breakup? That was for the best, without one single doubt. I’m so much happier with myself and the people I spend my time with. I no longer have someone in my life who disrespects me from time to times, yet I still call a companion. And I think deep down I knew I had better things to seek. As for my grandmother, I had a rough time accepting reality. My whole family did. I’m not entirely sure the realness of losing her has fully registered with me yet. I was ecstatic to see my dear siblings, but god, why under such circumstances? However, losing Gram reminded me of every life lesson she taught me growing up. Remembering Gram meant remembering the embodiment of compassion, warm-heartedness, class, and motivation in one strong, tall-standing woman. How many people do you that can spread true, genuine love to ten children, 32 grandchildren, and even dozens of great grandchildren? That’s a lot of love, guys. Everything she did, she did with grace. Gloria (short for Glendoris). That was her name, and a perfect name for her at that. I can only dream of being even half the woman she was. Losing her gave my life more meaning, and therefore, my first half marathon as well. Growing up, Gram walking five miles to school everyday so she could one day become a nurse. And she did. She served in World War II as a nurse and couldn’t have been prouder of it. If she could make that trek to be what she wanted to be, I could demolish my half marathon to be the runner I wanted to be, and I knew that. And that’s what I did. I didn’t know that’s what I’d be doing until I started to race though.
After my rough week of sobbing, mourning, and imbibing far too much booze, I woke up on November 10th, 2013 to run my race. I just didn’t give a shit anymore. I said fuck it. I’d just go out there and do it and just be happy to get the god damn thing over with. My goal time? Sub 1:35:00. I signed up with intentions of running a 1:30:00, but found myself completely unsure if I could truly make that feat when race day arrived. The starting corals had a 6:00/mile pace section and 8:00/mile pace section. I had no idea where to go, as I was aiming for 7:00 miles. I nuzzled myself in near the 6:00 pace group though, not because I was getting cocky, but there was more room there. The gun went off. My legs felt fresh after just the 3 warm up miles I ran earlier in the morning.
I found myself at surprising 6:45 pace at the 5 mile mark. What the fuck? I thought I was being an idiot. I figured I would die by mile 9.
I didn’t. There weren’t many people near me during most of the race, which always seems to happen. I start out doing an Indian run with someone for the first few miles of every race, but we always lose one another. But there I was, racing in solitude, somehow able to maintain a decent pace despite my lack of surrounding competition. I thought about my grandma, Gram, Gloria Rupp the whole way. The entire way. The race had a whole new meaning with her on my mind, an entirely new meaning than I’m sure it would have under any other circumstances. The last half mile of the race started with a hill, a hill that I was sure destroyed every muscle fiber in my body. When I saw the finish line, I mustered every last minuscule amount of strength I could dig for after 13 miles of hell. I gritted my teeth through the entire last 200 meters when I saw the clock. The unbelievable clock.
I crossed the finish line at 1:27:09. That’s a fucking 6:38 mile pace. How? My gritted teeth morphed into a smile as I crossed the finish line (I promise, the camera guy got a shot of it). I was done. And I didn’t feel as awful as I had imagined. I dry heaved of course, but nothing would come up (thank god!). I wanted to cry. Cry for joy. For the first time in weeks. I wanted to embrace anybody I met eyes with. I wanted to look up at the sky and scream. But most of all, I wanted to thank my Gram. She may not have known it, but she cheered me on the whole way. I put my body through something I never knew I was capable of. I was lifted out of self-doubt. I ran a 1:27 half marathon, and I was in disbelief. I was 45th out of all the men and women, 7th female, and 3rd in my age group. Again, how? It didn’t even hurt that bad. I never wanted to stop, slow down, or give up at any moment. I didn’t cry. I didn’t bleed. I didn’t die. I just ran, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Get in your zone and go. My pace was faster than my 10k pace when I was running at the collegiate level. It was also faster than the Crazylegs 5 miler I had run in the spring.
So now we’re back to the 5 miler I’m running tomorrow. I still feel to accomplished after my half, nearly three weeks after the fact, and I don’t even feel the need to PR tomorrow. I went into my 13.1 to just do whatever I could do and use whatever strength I could muster. To enjoy running because that’s why we do this everyday. We don’t put ourselves through pain for 15 miles straight because it sucks. Duh. We ENJOY it. What I want out of tomorrow is enjoyment. I’m beyond satisfied with my running career for the time being. So why give a hoot about some shitty little 5 miler when I just ran the race of my life? Tomorrow’s a workout for me. A workout for leading up to the sub-1:25:00 half marathon I have to crank out this spring anyway. ;)
I think I’ve found my event. And marathoners, get ready. I’m coming for you next.
Happy Thanksgiving y’all! Rock the shit out of your turkey/tofurky trots and whoop some bitch ass!