I can recount how I felt at every single kilometer during the run. Every kilometer marker had a little saying on it, and they were perfect for that moment. It was those little things that kept me going. It was the cheering from the crowd that kept my legs moving during those last two kilometers.
I ran my first 30K run yesterday, and even though I injured my foot 5 weeks ago and haven’t trained for the last 4 weeks, I was able to finish it.
When I crossed that finish line, I cried. I cried because I finished, I cried because I finished it in under my original goal time, and I cried because I was exhausted.
I started the race with the boyfriend, his sister and his father. We all made it to about the 5K mark together, but then the boyfriend took off (which was surprising because he had sprained his ankle only two weeks ago and it was still swollen, but he was determined to cross this run off his bucket list). I stayed with his sister and father until I felt like it was wearing on me having to constantly look for them in the large group of people who we were stuck running with. So I kept to myself and just focused on finishing.
It wasn’t until I hit the 10K mark (where the first timer was shown) that I realized how well I was actually doing. I hit the 10K mark at 53 min. The shortest I’ve ever run a 10K before was 65 min. So I was doing pretty good. However, it was around this time that I had to change my running style because I was beginning to feel the formation of blisters at the bottom of my feet.
Around the 13K mark I thought I would take the next 7K fairly easy because I knew what was coming for me, hills, and lots of them. The last 10K were reported to be extremely hilly. But then all I could think about was the boyfriend saying “if you want to make up time, you should make it up between the 10K mark and the 20K mark”, why? Because that was the flattest part of the run. So around the 15K mark, I started to pick up my pace. I was also half way completed which was extremely motivational.
Our first big hill came about the 18-19K mark. I wasn’t sure how well I was doing on my time, and I continued to keep my eyes open for the boyfriend. I wasn’t sure how long he would make it given his ankle, but I was happy for him since I hadn’t seen him at all!
I hit the 20K mark at 1 hr and 51 min. I was so happy! At this point I thought even if I have to walk the rest of the way, since I haven’t even ran in over two weeks, I would be happy with running 20K in well under 2hrs. But of course I kept going, I was going to give it my all, no matter what!
There were spectators along the entire route. There was always people cheering you on, which really helped push me along. Especially the last 10K. The hills never stopped. We would get a nice downhill to recover, just to go up another massive hill.
Then I hit the 26K mark. I was running downhill, giving my legs a well deserved break when I saw it, the biggest hill I have ever attempted to run. It kept going, and it was steep! I was about a quarter of the way up when I felt a pulling sensation in my left calf. But I fought through it, until my legs decided that was the end. They began to protest. I had cramps in both calves. I tried to push through this, but my legs were led. So I walked up the hill. The cramping began to subside about three quarters of the way up, I thought I would try to run again. One step and my legs protested. So I walked the rest of the way up.
I felt defeated. I felt like after all this, with only 3.5K left, I was going to have to walk the rest of the way. I would jog a little, but my legs wouldn’t let me go. People I passed long ago were all passing me. I thought that the boyfriend, his sister and his dad had to be done by now.
Then I remembered, no matter what time I finish the entire run, the fact that I completed it is good enough for me. I just ran 26K without stopping, how could I be upset about that? And it was then that I got my second (or maybe my third, or fourth) wind. I was able to run, slowly, but I was running.
I could see the finish, but I hadn’t passed the 29K mark yet, so I knew I had a little over a kilometer. The path took us back into the city streets, where people were lined, cheering. Some were early finishers. Everyone was so supportive, letting you know you didn’t have too much longer to go, that we were almost there. I almost gave up a couple of times, my legs felt like they were going to collapse. But I kept going. I passed the 29K mark and I thought that if I stopped now, that would be so stupid. I would be so mad at myself with under a kilometer to go.
The path took us around a short corner, and that’s where I saw it, the end. Something came over me and I started to sprint. I passed well over 20 people. I couldn’t get to the end fast enough. I could see the clock, and I wasn’t sure if I was delusional because of exhaustion, but the clock said 2 hours and 56 min. (which I actually meant approx. 2 hours and 52 min for me because I didn’t cross the starting line for a couple of minutes after the timer started since there were so many people who had to cross at the beginning).
Relief came over me. My legs felt like jello, I was shaking, I couldn’t think straight, and all I wanted was water. I started to cry. I may have been the only one crying, but I didn’t care. I went into the runners area where they were handing out snacks and drinks and I looked everywhere for the boyfriend. I wanted to run (walk fast) up to him, hug him and tell him how proud I was of him and then I wanted to cry. But I couldn’t find him anywhere. All I could think about at this moment was “I would have waited for him if I came in before him”. So I headed up to the seating area where his mother was planning on meeting us. I get up there and I don’t see the boyfriend, his sister or his father. So I could only assume they were still downstairs getting snacks and drinks and I just missed them because of all the people. So I asked his mother where they were. Her response “no one has come in yet, you’re the first”.
I was the first?!?! How?!?! All I could think was how impossible that is. She must have just missed them running in. It was hard to tell who was who when they ran past the finish line. How could the boyfriend end up behind me? I didn’t see him, and I kept my eyes open for him the whole time.
Then his sister came in, then his dad. But the boyfriend was nowhere to be found. I was so worried. What if he took himself off the course because of his ankle. His sister said she saw him and he was hurting around the 21K mark. “What if he can’t finish? Why would he even start the run knowing his ankle is sprained and still swollen?” I couldn’t take my eyes off the runners coming him, praying he would make his way down that ramp and into the stadium.
Finally, around the 3 hour 40 min mark he comes limping in, but slowly running. He did it! He made it even with his bad ankle. I was so proud of him! I couldn’t wait to tell him.
I already knew I loved him more than anything, but it was that moment, when he limped his way over the finish line, that I realized I could not be more in love with anyone in my entire life. It may also been a side effect of the high you feel from running, but I was so incredibly happy, happy with life, happy with him, just happy with everything.
It was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time!