Women's Half Marathon

I love the feeling of finishing a race no matter what the distance. Every race is an accomplishment. There is no such thing as "just a 5K" or "just a half" or "just an insert race distance." All races from 1K to 100 miles are difficult in their own way, though I personally will never know the difficulty of a race beyond 26.2 miles.

My cousin, Alyssa, my best friend, Hea, and I ran the Women's Half Marathon yesterday. The race began at 7am amongst a crowd of 10,000 women. Right when the race started, Hea and I almost lost my cousin because she was in the eternal bathroom line. Luckily, she is a speedy girl and caught up to us about five minutes after the horn sent us all off.

The pictures were taken by our good friend, Jeremy Carlson, who spotted us along the route several times. Thanks, J.J.!

The downtown waterfront in St. Pete is a scene I know so well. We traveled past the Vinoy toward Snell Isle Bridge, made our way through part of Shore Acres, came back via the cobblestone Coffee Pot Road where tripping was a real concern, and then came back to run all the way to the end of the Pier. The familiarity can be helpful because I knew exactly where we were going, though racing in new places better distracts me. But the three of us distracted each other chatting most of the way.

We traveled off the Pier to 1st Avenue South. We ascended a subtle incline toward Tropicana Field with a slight detour around Mirror Lake. My favorite part is running inside Tropicana on the perimeter of the field, getting a moment to share the perspective of a Rays' player. With one and a half miles to go, I had given everything I had to the race. Exiting the field, I felt like I had nothing left.

Alyssa, the ultimate encourager, talked me through that last mile and a half. The downgrade helped as we traveled back toward the waterfront where my husband and two other cousins waited to greet us along with thousands of cheering people.

I'm in pain if you can't tell by the fake smile. Alyssa is helping me through it.

Three hundred yards from mile thirteen, we could see the finish line. Alyssa encouraged me to pump my arms and speed up. I know the grimace on my face showed how miserable I felt trying to follow her instructions. "Pump your arms and reach up all the way to your ears," she told me. That made me pick up my feet faster, and we sprinted toward the end with every last drop of running energy I had left. Past the finish, I thought I might throw up when we stopped. One of the medics even walked over to make sure I was okay, but getting water immediately helped.

I'm so grateful to God that I got through it. In longer distances, I wonder sometimes if I'll make it and especially if I'll do well. At one point near the end, Alyssa and I ran behind a girl with Isaiah 40:31 on the back of her shirt. We recited that verse when we ran the Gasparilla Marathon together two years ago. It was yet another reminder that the Lord was with us.

I didn't PR, but I was proud of my 2:20:32 time (two hours, twenty minutes and thirty-two seconds). That's an average pace of 10:44 minutes per mile. Under 11s! Makes me happy. Heather was only about seven minutes behind us. We got some fruit and found my hubby and our cousins who had cheered for us at the finish. Then it was time for showers at home, and a much-needed nap.

Before the race at the Expo:
I got to see Kathrine Switzer again! Please do yourself a favor and read her book, Marathon Woman. It is fascinating. Also, on Instant Netflix, watch Spirit of the Marathon because her story, among other running stories, is on there too.

Next up, many of my family members, Heather, and I will be running the Turkey Trot in Clearwater this Thursday on Thanksgiving!