Last Sunday I completed the third in the Triple Crown series of races, the America’s Finest City Half Marathon in San Diego. I have to say I am mighty proud of myself- not because my time was great (it was not very good), or even because I felt like I had a good race ( it was hot as hell and also a pain just to get to the starting line), but because less than a year ago I was a very inconsistent exerciser that had never run farther than about 3 miles at a time. I had tinkered with the idea of running a Half Marathon ever since Christina signed up for her first race at that distance, but just the thought of running 13 miles straight made me feel very intimidated. For a long time I came up with every excuse in the world not to do it: ” I don’t have that kind of time”, ” I’m not a runner”, ” I can’t run that far”, “It’s too hard”…any of that sound familiar?
Eventually, something made me just suck it up and do it. I realized that I was the only thing holding me back, and I was tired of standing on the sidelines. So I registered for the Carlsbad Half Marathon, and when I learned that if I also ran the La Jolla Half Marathon and America’s Finest City Half Marathon in the same year, I would get a special Triple Crown medal and some legitimate bragging rights, I decided to sign up for those races too.
Most of my training for the first race was done on a treadmill at the Y- I didn’t follow a specific training plan, but on any given day I was running anywhere between 8-10 miles at a time. It’s not the most exciting way to spend an hour or two, but as a mom with a one year old it was the best I could do. By the time race day arrived I was nervous, but ready. I set a time goal for myself, and even though I fell a little short ( just by 13 seconds), I felt extremely accomplished. The Carlsbad Half Marathon made me feel like a real runner, and I was ready for more.
The La Jolla Half Marathon is notorious for a brutal hill at mile 5 that goes straight up for over a mile- not to mention several other hills along the way. Since my youngest had started preschool by this time, I was able to get in several trail runs a week, and also did a lot of hill training on the treadmill. I went into this race with only one goal in mind: “KILL THE HILL”- I knew that there would be alot of people who would choose to walk, and I wanted to resist the urge to join them. In the end my hill training paid off- I was able to keep a steady pace the whole time, and ended up beating my Carlsbad time by a little over a minute, on a course that is significantly more difficult.
The America’s Finest City Half Marathon should have been a breeze for me- it’s a relatively easy course ( lots of downhill in the first half), and since I had been running all year I should have been in tip-top shape….but as we all know life sometimes gets in the way. It was hard for me to stay motivated this summer- between illnesses, vacations, and the heat, I just wasn’t able to put in the training that I had for the previous races. I decided that I was not going to beat myself up ( even though I still did a little bit), and made it my goal just to finish the race and get my Triple Crown status. In the end I surprised myself by completing the race in less time than the previous two, despite my lack of training and the unusual 80 degree heat with 84% humidity that hit San Diego that morning.
So, why did I bother to tell you all of this? Because I want you to know that I am nothing special- I am just a regular person, a mom and wife, that decided I wanted to do something great. In between all of the training runs and races I still had to deal with comforting sick kids, grocery shopping, paying bills and doing laundry. During the time I was training I bought a house, celebrated holidays and mourned the loss of a loved one. There were ups and downs, times when I felt like I was able to run forever and other times when I felt like I could barely walk a mile. Some days I was excited to hit the trails and run as fast as I could, other days I had to play mental games with myself just to get my running shoes on. In the end, my need to prove to myself that I could do it won out. If you have the desire, you can do it- no matter what life throws your way. If you have ever entertained the thought of crossing a finish line, whether it be a 5k or a marathon, I encourage you to do it. You don’t have to be the fastest, the youngest, the fittest or the thinnest- it’s about you and no one else: all you have to do is put in the work and show up at the start. It’s just one foot in front of the other, after all.