Grandma’s Marathon: My First Half Marathon Experience
You either love it or hate it, right? Well, I’m still on the fence with that one. I played almost every sport in high school (including track & field) at one time or another. But then I decided to quit the sports I was playing to concentrate on theater.
I joined the Army Reserves when I was 18, (unexpectedly, but that’s a story for another day,) and went through intense basic training. I had regular APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) tests while in the military.
Then I had babies. Three of them, to be exact. And my love for running was replaced with love for sleep. Why run when I could nap? Why get all hot and sweaty when I could just sit back and relax? I still find some time to work out now that my kids are getting older and more independent. (Notice I said “some” time.)
A couple years ago after volunteering for Grandma’s Marathon as Racecourse Entertainment, I met up with my friend Emily in the tents after the race. Over a beer or two, we concurred that watching Grandma’s Marathon runners all morning was very inspiring. I always thought that even though I may have gotten a little more “squishy” in my years (according to my daughter, at least,) I still had the body of an athlete buried under a few layers of my “I’ll start my diet and workout plan tomorrow” outer shell.
We made a deal that by the time we were 30 and before 31 we would run the half together. So here it was, the 35th Grandma’s Marathon, and the last one before I’d turn 31. It was time for me to make good on the deal. I signed up months ago, thinking I had plenty of time to train. But before I knew it, I was blowing off all my plans to train in favor of a nap, shopping, or work. Or a nap.
When it came down to the wire I panicked. I told everyone I was confident and knew I could make it, but deep down inside I had serious doubts. Last week I was contemplating coming down with the flu, having problems with my bionic plate in my ankle, or oversleeping. All to avoid myself the pain and embarrassment of not finishing. Honestly, who decides that running 13.1 miles without training is a good idea? Apparently I do.
My plan was to do a healthy balance of walking and running. As long as I finished, I’d be happy.
Saturday morning I woke up nervous. I tried a cup of coffee to wake up (not recommended) then switched to drinking water.
By the time I reached the starting line at 5:45 am (which is a little further up Old Hwy. 61 than I originally thought) I was a basketcase. Soaked, cold, alone, and scared. 13.1 miles? What was I thinking?
I don’t remember any big announcement that the race had started, I was waaaaaay in the back. I really didn’t want to be in the way of the “real” runners. As the people in front of me started moving, I followed the herd.
I made it 2 miles before I thought I’d give myself a break and walk. After 3 miles I was feeling pretty dang good! By the 5th mile even though I was wearing a sports bra my boobs felt as if they’d bounce right off my body. I tied my sweatshirt around my chest in hopes they’d stay down. It helped, but didn’t totally solve my problem.
I passed on the free beer, (though it looked sooo good!) and ate the most delicious strawberry and orange I’ve had in my life. (Thank you Super One!!) I saw an incredible collection of Troll dolls lining the street. And I resisted the urge to grab one and sprint away.
I stopped and talked to my husband around the 10 mile mark. He told me how proud of me he was, and that was such a great motivator. I stopped and talked to a few other people I knew, and took 1 pit stop (in the porta-potty, of course.) I thanked as many volunteers and spectators as I possibly could. I smiled for the official marathon photographers. I sang “Party in the USA” at the top of my lungs, and wasn’t ashamed to do it.
In all, I had an amazing first Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon experience.
Although I’m not an amazing athlete, I still felt like I was. Not the way my body felt, of course, but the encouragement from everyone. The Grandma’s Marathon Volunteers and Spectators are so great, I can’t even put into words how thankful I am to have had such a great time running 13.1 miles!
Long story short, (too late) I FINISHED! I didn’t break any records, but I also didn’t break any of my body parts.
The feeling that overcame me as my medal was placed around my neck is indescribable. A combination of pride, accomplishment, and delirium. No, I didn’t train. Although it’s not recommended, it still worked for me. I’ll run again next year. But next time, I’ll train for it! Oh, and get a better bra.