Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seattle Rock N Roll Half Marathon: Who cares how I did...

Running isn't easy.  If through any of my writings and ramblings I've ever given you the impression that it is, this was not my intention and please disregard.  I've had a few conversations lately with some friends who've recently taken up running, and their main complaint is that it's hard.  And when I hear this, I simply think (and say), "well, yeah."  Of course it is.  It wouldn't be so incredibly rewarding and fulfilling if it wasn't hard.  If you ever decide to get out there and run and think that it's going to be easy, you will be sorely (ha, pun) disappointed.

Running is about getting out there and challenging yourself.  Pushing yourself to your limits.  Testing your bounds and believing in yourself.  Running is about conquering each day and every run, whether it's 1 mile or a marathon.  Yes, there will be easy runs.  It does happen.  Sometimes your body just loves you.  Sometimes your body feels great, enjoys the push, and performs for you.  But many days, runs don't feel great and it's a struggle to get yourself to enjoy them.

But no matter how hard running is, we keep coming back to it.  We keep pushing ourselves harder and faster and farther.  Why, you may ask?  Why keep pushing yourself to do this incredibly hard thing that never gets any easier?  Well, let me tell a little anecdotal story to show you the answer.

Yesterday, I ran the Seattle Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I will tell you a little bit about my race, but that's not what the story is about.  I went into this race knowing that I wouldn't PR.  I ran a full marathon 3 weeks ago, and I didn't need to push myself.  I wanted to have fun, to enjoy the race, to enjoy being out there with my Team.
Three of these ladies were embarking on their
first full marathon.
And three of these ladies were too.

And one of these.  Yay, Space Needle in the background.
If you can add correctly, that's 7 amazing women ready to take on 26.2 miles for the first time.  And there were many more.  But we'll come back to that.

I ran my race at an easy pace with Erica.  We saw lots of teammates and coaches, got to watch the top 2 men marathoners run by us at our mile 6 (their mile 12).
Pretty awesome watching these guys fly by.
That's the marathon winner in orange, my coach
Shelby running next to him to say hi (he actually
knows him, he's not just a creeper).
We enjoyed the race.  We had fun and kept smiles the whole way through.
The road looks wet, but the weather was actually perfect here.
Some cloud cover, a cool breeze.  No rain.
We cruised through our 13.1, crossed the finish line together (something we didn't get to do in San Diego), and finished in 2 hours and 1 minute.  If you remember reading my Amica Seattle Marathon post just 7 short months ago, I had to give my all to finish just 1+ minute under that time.  I ran the same exact time at the Seattle RNR Half Marathon exactly one year ago, but again, I pushed myself and gave my all to get there.  Yesterday I fully admit that I did not give everything I had.  I've come a long way since last year, and it feels pretty great to "take it easy" and still run a 2:01 half.  I've now run 8 races over the past 3 years (5 halves and 3 fulls), and this is the first race that I didn't PR in.  And I am totally OK with that.  

But again, this story isn't about me or my race.  If I didn't send this message home with my race recap of the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon (Part I and Part II), I'll repeat it again here.  When I run a race with Team in Training, all I can think is that it is not about me.  And yesterday was no exception.

The best part of this story is about what happened after I crossed the finish line.  It is about what I got to witness.  It is about tears of joy and sadness, smiles, and cheers.  It is about being able to see strength.  And I'm not talking about the muscle strength that pushes legs forward.  I'm talking about a strength of the heart and mind that isn't visible to the human eye.  But yesterday I saw this strength.  It radiated from the faces of marathoners at mile 25.7, on the corner of highway 99 and Republican St. for a little over 4 hours.  

After crossing the finish line, meeting up with a few other teammates, housing down some calories, pit stopping at the bathroom, and grabbing some coffee, me and two other ladies headed back out onto the race course.  We wanted to see our teammates finish.  We'd been with them as they trained all season, struggled through tough practices, and shined through good ones.  We wanted to cheer them on, help them through that last, toughest mile.  So out we went.
Standing in the middle of 99 on the corner of Republican.
Half marathoners came down the right, fulls down the left.
We posted ourselves in the middle of the street so we could catch every purple shirt that ran by.  We screamed our hearts out.  We worried that the sun was getting a little warm, that our marathoners would have a long hot race ahead.  We saw Melody and Jodi come in together.  We saw Danger shuffle his way through his 2nd half marathon in 3 weeks.  We saw Dorothy jump with joy and take a few running steps at the end of her 2nd half marathon, helping her to break the PR she set at her first half in San Diego.  We watched Ana power through her first full marathon, looking strong and fearless to the finish.  We ran with Jamie for a couple blocks, amazed that the little bundle of energy that she typically is still shone through in her smile and chit-chatting at mile 26.

And then...well...then it started to rain.  That sun we were worried about?  No more.  It clouded over quick, and then those clouds let loose.  And this was not the typical Seattle sprinkle.  This was a DOWNPOUR.  And it didn't stop.  For 3 hours, it didn't stop.  And suddenly I was worried.  I was worried that spirits would be broken, that strength would go down the drain with the rain.  How silly of me.  The spirit of a marathoner cannot be broken by rain.  Bite me zones were had.  Emotions ran high.  But spirits were not broken.  Not at all.

All those ladies in the pictures at the beginning of this post?  We watched them run through one by one.  We walked and ran with Betsy as she stayed strong through her final mile.  MacKenzie ran with Melanie and Anna all the way in to the finish line, supporting them the whole way through.  Sally ran smiling by, taking high fives to the finish.  Yes, there were some tears when people saw us, but I believe these tears were tears of relief and gratitude and undescribable marathon emotions.  They were tears of joy and strength and sadness all wrapped into one.  There were smiles in the tears.  Regan smiled and laughed and cried her way through her last half mile, and I hope that by us being there, we made it just a little bit more bearable.  

There were other names, other faces, and other emotions that we saw during our 4+ hours out in the rain on the course.  We were there for our teammates because we wanted to be, because we needed to be.  And then we were blown away by the thank yous we received after.
These aren't even all of them.
We had hoped to maybe boost a few people.  But the response was overwhelming.  And here's where my story gets a little selfish.  Here's where I started think just a little bit about me.  I took something from all of my teammates that I watched run by yesterday.  I took just a little bit of their strength.  I absorbed it, let it sink in, let it spread throughout my body.  I didn't mean to do it.  But by seeing their strength, by witnessing their final battles, I think that some of it may have rubbed off on me.  And now I have a hope for the future.  I hope that the next time I run a marathon, the next time I take on 26.2 miles with the Team...I hope that their strength is still with me.  I hope that it has compounded with my own.  I hope that it helps me push through my final miles at some point in the future.

So instead of reading all those thank you's, I should be saying thank you to all of you.  Thank you for letting me witness what you are capable of.  Thank you for letting me cheer you on.  Thank you for being who you are and doing what you do.  Thank you for allowing me to build my strength upon your own.  Because I believe I am stronger now because of it.  

And the best part of it all?  As we celebrated the day at our victory party last night, the one thing I kept hearing over and over again from these amazingly strong people was, "I can't wait until next time," "next time, I'll do so much better," "there will be a next time."  So Team, here's to next time.  Until then, I'll be biding my time until I can cross the finish line with you again.

I don't think I can type it loud enough, but GO TEAM!!  And thanks for everything.

No comments:

Post a Comment