Two Sundays ago I ran 13.1 miles.

A year and a half ago, I was doubled over in pain just by walking.  A year ago, I had been rejected by eight graduate school programs.  Nine months ago, I was dealing with my second (though less severe) stress fracture in under a year.  And then my cat died (no joke…).  Mix in some other personal troubles and the universe was serving me painful punch lines, with the things most intrinsic to me (including running) undermined, and I felt continuously vulnerable.  Eight months ago, I felt beaten down, emotionally and physically.  Eight months ago, I needed to change my life.

I began to tackle my life list of goals in signing up for Boston’s Run to Remember and proceeded to start my half marathon training conservatively and smartly.  Since my stress fractures, I’ve stuck to no more than 4 days of running per week with low-impact cross-training (cycling/elliptical) mixed in on my off-running days.  If I decided to increase the mileage, I have been using the 10% rule prescribed by my orthopedist and physical therapist.  As in, do not increase mileage more than 10% in one week.  That said, I knew I would have to start doing longer runs on the weekends to build up to 13 miles because as of 5 weeks before the race my longest runs were around the 7 mile mark.  I won’t lie; I was almost constantly terrified of getting hurt again during this endeavor. My primary goals in this race were to (1) Finish, and (2) Have Fun.  My secondary goal was to (3) Not Walk.  My secret goal was to (4) Finish under 2 hours.

The basics of my training: Run Monday, Weds, Thursday with longer runs on the weekend.

Saturday #1: 7 mile run

Saturday #2: 9 mile run

Saturday #3: 12 mile run

Saturday #4 (week before the race): 10 mile run

During the week before the race, I was also super conscious of eating balanced, eating lots of carbs and protein, and hydrating.

And then came race day.

I am lucky enough to have wonderful friends who indulged my overly anxious self, and hosted me the night before the race so that I could avoid dealing with public transportation at 6 am on a Sunday.  My friend Corey (a recent Boston marathoner himself!) ran the race, and his lovely fiancée was our pre-race cook, chauffeur, and designated cheerer/photographer.

Ruminations during the race…

Miles 1-3: These miles were fairly easy.  I established my pace, and luckily, the huge crowd sort of prevented me from starting out too fast.  I realized I was running around an 8:30 min/mile, but it felt natural and I never pushed myself too hard.

Miles 4-8: The race route ran down Memorial Drive, and then looped back again.  The day was HOT, and I took my time at the aid stations, stopping for water each time.  I realized I was having FUN!  That smile in my action photo is genuine.  The energy of the crowd was awesome, the spectators were motivating, and the lovely lovely Julia had graciously set herself up on Memorial Drive for encouragement and photo ops.  Nothing made me happier than to see her smiling face twice during the race.

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Miles 9-10: This is where things started getting rough.  My muscles were getting tighter and the “hills” (i.e. bridges) seemed larger on the way back into Boston than they had before.  I stopped to stretch out once to alleviate the cramping leg muscles.

Mile 11-12: “Did they forget the 11 mile marker?”  Oh.  Right.

Mile 12: I realized I had a sub 2 hour half marathon in me.

Miles 12-13.1: “Ok, I’m ready for this race to end.” And then I finished.  And then I cried.

It was an emotional and symbolic event for me.  If somebody had told me last winter that this year I would be accepted to several very selective grad school programs, that I was strong enough to run 13.1 miles after a debilitating pubic bone stress factor, I’m not sure I could have visualized it.
Final Time: 1:54:29.  And yes, I wore that finsher’s medal all day.

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