I always thought, if I can just make it through the window...
With that in mind, I wanted to do something that reclaimed my personal power. My thoughts about being this age were not exactly empowering. So I decided to complete 12 half marathons in the 12 months of 2015:
Arizona Rock & Roll Half
Do you remember January? The Arizona half marathon where from miles 7 to 10 there was a mountain to climb? I do. I'll never forget that mountain, and the drum line at the top where I made a U-turn and got to run back down. So relieved, grinning like a madman. Then seeing my cheering squad, Kristen, Doug and Remy. Kristen screaming and jumping up and down, as she experienced her first half as a spectator.
Puppy Love Run Virtual Race
Then February. My first virtual race and my only treadmill run. I did 13.1 miles on a treadmill at Metro, while my friend Kelley walked by now and then with mile marker signs. I can still picture her walking past the front of my treadmill, holding up the number 11. I sent in my results and they mailed me my medal.
Three Creeks Half
March was the hardest, and one of my favorites. My blog about being last in that half marathon was the closest I've ever had to a post going viral on the internet. More people liked and shared that blog than any other one I've ever written. We all share the fear of being last, and it changed me when I actually was last. Those strangers waiting for me, clapping for me, while freezing their butts off. It was awesome.
Earth Day Half
This was the first half marathon I've ever done where I didn't receive a medal when I crossed the finish line. I got a mug. What??!! After struggling through the hills and the heat, I wanted my medal! My 2015 goal was bringing up all kinds of beliefs about a race being official. Is it official if it is virtual? Is it official if there is no medal? I didn't define all the parameters at the start, so I ordered a cool Earth Day medal for me and Kendra, my friend who waited almost an hour for me to finish.
Cap City Half
After struggling like I did at the Earth Day run, it was nice to go out and finish one without a lot of drama. I even got treated like royalty, again by my friend Kendra, by being dropped off right at the starting line by her hubby, and picked up for the ride home. If you are always driving yourself to and from these events, you know what a gift that is. And we got a real medal.
Some Random Race in Cleveland
I don't remember the name of this one, because I never made it to the race. I had a plan all worked out. I was going to spend Friday night at my friend Amy's on Put-In-Bay for her birthday, then take the ferry back to Port Clinton and drive over to Parma, Ohio for my June run. A crazy storm hit Lake Erie, and all ferry service was shut down for the weekend. I sat there watching the waves, and watching my goal slip away. This was June 28th, so I wouldn't be able to make up June. I blew it.
It bothered me so much that I wouldn't get June done in June, that I emailed the race director and explained my goal to him. I asked if I could do 13.1 on my own before June ended, would he count that and send me my medal. He said no, but I could apply my race fee to next year. This was the first moment when I felt like quitting.
Bryce Canyon Half
However, I'd already signed up for the Bryce Canyon half in Utah just days before. I struggled to find a half here in July, and I already had plans to go with a client, Anna, to Red Mountain in July. For the heck of it, I googled half marathons in Utah and this one came up. It was just a few hours away from where I would be staying, so I registered. I wrote an entire blog about how nervous I was about driving through the mountains alone, and I was still wavering about quitting when an awesome guy at the front desk of the resort gave me just enough encouragement to go. So I did. I was so exhausted when I got to Bryce the night before the race. I'd been driving on those near the edge mountain roads without any cell phone service. I finally found the race packet pick-up and as I was walking up to the table, I did a double take. "That looks like my friend Ralph", I thought. OMG it is. A hug from a running friend turned everything around. We met up at the start line the next morning at 6:00 am, and ran part of this incredibly beautiful, all down hill race together.
Guts to Glory Half
The Bryce experience changed my momentum and I was re-inspired. I decided to make up June's race with a second July one. I found a virtual run called Guts to Glory, which helps fund Crohn's research. On a Highbanks run with my friend Marie, I told her about it and she said, "I'm in." So we did it together on Friday, July 24th which happened to be national tequila day. I got through the last very hot, challenging, hilly three miles with the mantra, "tequila, chips, salsa, diet coke." It's one of my favorite memories of the year.
Emerald City Half
I felt back in the game, so I posted a little survey on Facebook to see which August half to choose. The majority said to try Emerald City in Dublin, so I did. However, that race felt out in the middle of nowhere to me, and I made a mistake by not planning to do it with someone. I was knee deep in construction and zoning issues with the new studio, and I think that's why I reverted back to an old way of being, which was to rely totally on myself. I got my medal but that's about it. Sometimes you just have to check the box complete.
New Albany Walking Half
If you know me, you know I love to walk. Whereas I am a fairly slow runner, I can walk pretty fast so it feels good to be power walking through a crowd with loud music pumping in my ears. I think it's great that we have one of the largest walker-only events in the country. It was a gorgeous September morning and I didn't feel that loneliness that I felt at Emerald. I just felt happy, I was proud of my finish time, and the medal is really cool.
K9s for Warriors Half
I'll be honest. This is where the sh*t got real. The New Albany half was the second weekend in September, just days after the Tread studio opened. Suddenly I was walking in six or seven Tread classes a week, trying to figure out the new business, the scheduling software, and I was on overload. I think I was on overload for about three months. (If you experienced my grumpiness and cut me some slack, I am so grateful!!) Anyway, I could not stand the thought of another 7:00 a.m. start time. I was too tired. So I found another virtual race called K9s for Warriors and Marie agreed to do another one with me. We met at Highbanks and knocked out 13.1 miles of gorgeous fall hills and trails. It was amazing.
Pick Up Half
As Tread grew quickly, I tried to keep up with training, scheduling, and all the new stuff that came with it. People would ask me what my November half was, and honestly I just ignored the question. I was pretty much done. I was deep into Tread, my support group, the mile-a-day challenge, and it all felt like too much. Isn't there a point you can get to where the goal doesn't mean as much as keeping your sanity and not overdoing it? Evidently, hell no! So without planning, training, or anything else, Marie and I decided to just go do another 13.1 at Highbanks. No registration, no bib, no medal. Which messes with me. Does that really count? It's not official. I have no medal to put on my rack.
Run Free Half
But then I remember. This is the year I turned 50. I want to kick it in the ass, not have it kick me. I want to take my power back. Hold my arms high and yell, "I did it!" I DO NOT WANT TO QUIT. December 22 the weather was absolutely gorgeous. The final virtual race called Run Free which supports puppy mill rescue efforts. This crazy gift of sunny, warm days in December. I text Marie and cancel. I cancelled! Too much to do to get ready for Christmas, which is 2 days away. With only four days left of the year, I text Marie, "Wish I'd had my sh*t together last week for 13.1 when it wasn't raining!" It was pouring rain and 38 degrees now. I text again, "We can quit after 3.8 if we're freezing."
Marie texts back, "You're not getting out of this! You don't get to choose the weather!"
"You're mean," I reply. With a smiley.
We meet at Sharon Woods and start running. It is not just raining, it's RAINING. Every time we say something like, "This isn't so bad", the wind whips up and smacks us in the face with little raindrops. But we go. We talk. We run. We walk. We change coats at the car. Twice.
Around mile 12, Marie asks me how it will feel to be done. Not yet!! I can't think about it or let it in yet. I'll get choked up, then I won't be able to breathe. Keep running. Keep breathing. And finally the moment comes when the Garmin reads 13.1. A wave of emotion comes over me that feels like relief and exhilaration combined. I made it. I'm done.
It was interesting to work through the hang ups I had about what made each race or run or walk official. Does it have to be an organized event? With a race bib? What about a virtual race? Treadmill? Make up race? What if we just pick up and go to Highbanks? Does it count? What about the medal?
Oh, the medal. I so wanted a medal for each month. But I realized that those are symbols of something bigger.
They represent showing up.
They represent taking my power back.
They represent overcoming.
They represent dedication.
They represent my health and fitness!
But mostly they represent the people that got me through it all. There is no possible way I'd have made it alone. Not through this goal. Not through the window. Not through opening Tread. Not through this life.
Me and my people. That's the real medal.