Ladies FirstSaturday, March 29, 2013, I woke up energized as if someone shot adrenaline right into my veins. The night before, I made sure I did 30-minutes of yoga stretches for runners and would stretch again before the race. Grabbing a bagel with a teaspoon of peanut butter and a banana, I was ready to hit the road for NYC Runs Ladies First Half Marathon on Shore Road in Brooklyn. At 9 a.m. my mother and sister ran the 5k race, coming in 12 minutes faster than their previous PR. It feels so good to motivate my whole family. At 10 a.m. it was my time to shine and instead of feeling nervous, I felt calm and ready.

I had imaged that I would run with a clear head, thoughts drifting out to the ocean as waves crashed along the shoreline. Instead, the first three miles I was very present and focused on the race, the time, and the distance. I clocked 11:38 min/mi for the first two, and felt good, but was a bit worried that it might be too fast for me (I normally run 11:40-12:45 min/mi). It is never good to be too eager. I knew I would need to keep my endurance up. The first five or six miles were a bit challenging, but they all blended together and it was smooth sailing. The light rain anointed me as I ran under the Verrazano Bridge. Ducks plunged and bobbed in the water to my right and cars continued along the highway to my right.

My knees began to hurt around mile five, but I talked myself out of feeling pain. My ankles became like rubber by mile nine and ten, but I worked through that too. Not once did I have a negative thought in my mind. I thought about the only person trailing me was me. It was me against myself. I shed my fears, my frustrations, negativity and imaged stumping on them with every stride.

Every once in awhile a runner would pass and give a smile, a thumb up, or say uplifting words. These moments meant the world to me then. Every moment I felt a bit drained, these acts from supports raised me up. I immediately felt light on my feet and unbreakable. The volunteers were also so supportive and I applaud them.

My body did get tired, but I focused on getting to mile nine and then focused on the last four miles. I didn’t stop; I wouldn’t stop (besides 10 second water breaks and to tie my shoes). Although it was challenging at times, overall it was not as bad as I mentally prepared for. I never felt defeated or that I could be defeated. Although in slight pain at times, I was happy.

Finished!The home stretch was exactly what I pictured it to be. I felt so close, but so far from the finish line that last mile. I pushed on. I thought about how far I had come and how far I still could go. I thought about the hard work I put in and how proud I was of myself. I put my heart and soul out in the race and as I reached the end, I was overwhelmed with pure joy. It was euphoric. My mom was there right before the finish line cheered me on, tears of happiness forming in my eyes. After blinking them away, my feet crossing that line at 2:40:55, four minutes faster than my target. Immediately I ran to my sister to hug her, as a wave of emotions drenched me worse than the never stopping rain. I had envisioned my muscles collapsing after, but although I was sore, it was bearable.Race Bling

I came in 202nd place and 85/91 in my age division. From here, I can only get better. I know that finishing this half is only the first of many, but I am still in awe of my achievement. I proved to myself that no goal is too big and there is nothing I can’t do. I learned what it means to persevere and the true meaning of mind over matter.

I had the best experience and cannot wait to sign up for my next one. My next step is to increase my min/mi pace and aim for 2:15:00 next time. Although I have been taking to easy the past three days, tomorrow picks up my training for my first Spartan sprint April 12th. AROO!

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