I woke up at 5 am the morning of the race. I sat on the couch with my feet propped up, drinking a cup of coffee. I sat there and asked Megan if she ever thought we would get this far. I thought back to our old, 400 square foot apartment in Abilene and thought about how uncomfortable my life was. How getting off the couch was a chore, how no shirt every really fit well no matter how much I would try to stretch it. I realized how those burdens aren’t holding me back any more. That’s when I started to cry. It was just an overwhelming feeling of joy to reinforce that freedom. When you’re morbidly obese, your life is restricted whether you know it or not. Now that I know this freedom, I will never go back to that old way of living, because that wasn’t living.
Becky and Erin came by the house and we made our way to FSU. It was a beautiful morning. A little cold, but we had all ran in worse. The crowd was huge, but still not as bad as the Turkey Trot in November. Everyone was ready to book it.
The sirens blared. It was time to run. Feet, don’t fail me now.
The first mile: piece of cake!
Second mile: hey…this isn’t so bad!
Third mile: what a beautiful day
Fourth mile: I’m actually running with some athletic-looking people!
Fifth mile: just kidding…the real athletic people just passed me because they have already reached the half way point.
Sixth mile: WHERE THE @#%#$ IS THE HALF WAY POINT???
Then on the ninth mile…misery. I hit a physical wall like you wouldn’t believe. My toes were forming a blister for the first time, my IT bands started to get sore, then the calf cramps kicked in, which never (and when I mean never, I mean even when I was 357 pounds and running 5 miles) ever happens when I run. I had thrown my body into confusion. Mile 9 is when this Sunday morning race turned into a battle.
My mantra became “I will finish…I will finish…I will finish.” Every other step was a struggle. A normal stride followed by a cramp, a normal stride followed by a cramp. Along the way, I met some nice people like a first time half marathon runner like me who was struggling. We talked, I cramped up, he kept going (I somehow still beat him though. We met up after the race.) Then there was the girl who ran up next to me, put out her first and said “pound it!” So I did, followed by me stopping to stretch out.
Before I knew it, I was already at mile 12. The miles had just peeled away. I could see Doak off in the distance, but I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet. After throwing down cups of Gatorade and packets of GU, (which were interesting) I kept going. Every motion forward was a struggle, but I knew I was closer to the finish.
Finally, I reached the track. The last little chunk of raceway left. After running on miles of concrete and asphalt, running the last almost quarter mile on a rubber track felt incredibly wonky. It was like running inside of a bouncy castle. I could hear all the cheers, my race was finally drawing to a close. I felt amazing.
Final time: 2:11:50.59. I was 434th out of 728 runners. Fastest time? 1:13:40.43. Next half, I’m breaking the 2-hour barrier.
I hear a lot of people who’ve lost a lot of weight, both bloggers and even people on The Biggest Loser, say “I did it to prove everybody wrong! I’m doing this for all of the people who said I couldn’t do it!” While I thought that way for a while, I realized while I was training for this half that I shouldn’t be looking at it like that. I should be doing this not for the people who said I couldn’t, but for the people who said I could. I did this race for every one of you who have liked my hundreds of running statuses, who have dropped me a line telling me how proud you are of me, and for all of those who tell me how I have inspired them to change their lives. I was able to do this race because of you. You, dear reader, have been my fuel to carry on. For that, I thank you.