You guys. I did it. I completed a half marathon.
It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t at all what I had envisioned.
In fact, play along. Here’s what I thought it would look like...
A crisp morning on race day, a welcoming crowd, kind volunteers at check in, a bit of nervousness as I secured my bib.
Stretching, bopping about to music before the race, a build of energy, loud announcements, followed by a shotgun start.
Me, back of the pack, finding my groove.
An overwhelm of feelings, mostly inspiration from the hundreds of runners all around me.
Strategically placed port-a-johns.
All shapes, all sizes, all ages running, walking.
Funny, encouraging signs.
Cheering. So. Much. Cheering.
A sprint(ish) to the finish, followed by high fives, photos, my family there with open arms to greet me.
Oh, and a spread of Lancaster County’s finest local foods.
Ok, so here’s what it actually looked like.
A virtual race, to be completed anytime last weekend. It being Friday afternoon, a thought, “Oh, crap, I need to get these miles in sometime in the next three days. Better check the forecast.” I decided Friday evening was my best stretch of weather. The downside, my decision came minutes after having helped my husband band the bull calves (soon to be steers). Need-less-to-say, my nerves were shot, my energy low, all adrenaline gone. I digress.
I was ready. I slapped together a makeshift 'bib' to make me feel official (pictured), laced up and hit the back-country roads around my home.
This is what I saw and experienced...
First up, half a mile in, I came across was an old guy in a golf cart. The cart had two orange flags (for visibility, I guess) and a very, very loud horn. And the guy proceeded to honk at me and every movement he saw on the way to his home, or maybe it was a friend’s home? I have no idea. I ran faster.
Lots of squirrels, rabbits and robins.
Flowers. So. Many. Flowers.
In mile 2, I heard and then saw a red-headed woodpecker busy at work.
In mile 5, my headphones crapped out. So, I listened to music on speaker phone. Yep, I was that person.
In mile 6, a groundhog scurried across the road. I wish I was going as fast as he (or she?) was.
The only other runner I came across (mile 7, but who's counting) was too engrossed in his phone conversation to even notice another human. He was stuck in a continual loop of complaining about his friend, or girlfriend, or something or other. I guess this social distancing thing had him down, despite the endorphin rush.
Also in mile 7, a port-a-john at a local park. Thank goodness.
It was slow going for quite a few miles, slower than usual, which is slow. My pace is slow.
A great blue heron flew above me at some point in mile 9. A sign from my grandfather, and a highlight of my outing.
For the last two miles, as the sun set and it turned to dark, the peepers (frogs, not sketchy characters looking through their windows, just to clarify) were my personal cheering squad.
I ran the last mile in the pitch dark, back and forth, along my long, stone driveway, in a wave of pure determination. My phone died at some point in this stretch. The irony, the only witness to this effort was the soon-to-be-steers standing in their paddock, wondering what in the world I was doing.
As I crossed the invisible finish line of my front porch, tears streamed - pure pride for having pushed myself further than I’ve ever gone. By myself. With nothing other than my makeshift ‘bib’ pictured and a handheld water bottle. It was a run I will never forget.
Shout out to Garden Spot Village for scrambling to host their first ever virtual race. And encouraging a community of runners along the way.
If you have had a run or walk canceled, or are looking for a new challenge, check out The Un-Canceled Project (link). It’s totally free, and they are hosting weekly virtual races – pick your distance, print your bib and run or walk the darn thing.
My challenge for you (and me!): let’s continue to set goals. To prioritize ourselves even during a global pandemic. Yes, these times are uncertain. And yes, we are more stressed than usual. But one thing we can control is effort, and if we make a goal, even the smallest of small goals, we can focus and get it done.
A special thanks to my friend, Lisa, for running the trails with me in preparation for this day. And for your advice and encouragement. I look forward to running with you again when this whole social distancing thing is over.
Stay well, my friends.