After months of training, I got it done. Despite it being 20 mph winds, rain, and high 30s temperatures the entire race. Despite the fact that I was sick leading up to this race, still congested, and that I pulled a hamstring which acted up around mile 6…despite the worst conditions I’ve ever run a half marathon in, there were some light-hearted moments too that I’d like to share to prove what makes runners resilient.
A 70 plus year old lady holding an umbrella being turned inside out due to the strong winds offered me the shelter of it and then proceeded to let expletives roll off her tongue for the next 5 minutes. She had been up since 4am (me too!) and would never do this *expletive* race again. What struck me funny was the vow that all of us runners have at the start of a race, how we are never going to do a race again. Then inevitably we do. But this race start was harsh, the high winds whipped our not yet warmed up bodies in our huddled masses. This elderly (and very fit!) lady was kind enough to offer me the shelter of her umbrella, not that it did much good in the sheets of torrential rain that had us soaked before we even started. This kindness touched my heart setting out to run 13.1 miles, and reminded me of the strength of human compassion.
We ran through a military base, and there were servicemen braving the winds and the rain to salute us, and I was filled with gratitude over their service to our country. Living in Virginia Beach, home to the U.S. navy, I am surrounded by military personnel, but sometimes it takes seeing them standing in the wind and rain to cheer us on that I’m reminded of their sacrifice and service.
Miles 7-8 (the miles blur here)
There was a screechy little toddler boy in a jogging stroller that his dad was valiantly pushing (kudos to those jogging stroller runners!) and he was hollering “faster daddy, faster!” which brought smiles to those nearest him. His poor dad couldn’t go any faster, but the boy hollered on. His cries echoed our heart’s cries of pressing on, half frozen. Every time I pass a jogging stroller runner (or even get passed!) I have such respect for them, because it is HARD work pushing that load in addition to working yourself. I was so grateful that my son was spared from sitting in his jogging stroller for 13 miles. Even with the weather guards and blankets, those riders had to have been cold. Shout-out to my husband for watching my son so I could run!
Due to the rain the spectators were few and far between, but there was a small cheering squad towards the end, and a woman called out my name from my bib number. Just hearing my name at this point of the race gave me renewed determination to get it done. Get it done for me means never stopping, never quitting, no matter what. I applaud those spectators who weren’t moving to keep them warm, braving the conditions just to cheer us on. Again, a testament to the human spirit. Which is what races bring out.
Never have I been more thankful for a warm car and a warm shower as I was after this race. Even layered with a jacket, hat and gloves, I was soaked through and quite frozen. Thawing out in my car and then in the shower was the best reward ever. I was grateful to be done and grateful to have done it. Grateful that even though my husband and son decided not to meet me at the finish line because of the cold (and snow!), there were flowers and candy and my son and husband waiting for me at home. Every time I race I set out to prove to myself, to my mind, and to my body that I’m more capable than I think. And that’s why runners run.