Last Saturday I wrapped up my Boston Marathon training block with a virtual half-marathon. This of course was definitely not the way I imagined things to end. I imagined loud cheers and bright red numbers illuminating my goal time of 2:48. In my head, it was all pretty glorious and memorable.
That vision will have to be saved for another day. My virtual half was the next best option. And here’s the thing, it was entirely unglamorous. It was actually pretty painful. When you start hurting in a race, you can really rely on the crowds and people to carry you through. When I started to hurt at around mile 9, there were no crowds or expectations, and part of me just wanted to stop. Thankfully, Lance pulled me through and got me to a time of 1:23:45.
Before I dive into the miles, I just want to say that Lance is amazing. I would not have been able to run that time or probably even have finished if it was not for his even pacing and encouraging words. He is so even-keeled and I can be so dramatic. The last 4ish miles, every word amount of my mouth was a complaint and a whine. Lance is so good at not letting my negative thoughts or complaints change what he believes in me. The whole time, even when I started to half-cry, he said you got this, you are going to run an amazing time. I am so thankful God gave me a husband that not only cheers me on, but that believes in me more than I do.
For this 13.1 mile course, Lance and I started at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes and ended at a random street in Manhattan Beach. The course was actually a really fun and beautiful one. It would have probably been even more enjoyable in an actual race setting. As a whole, there was a good amount of downhill, which I desperately needed. The first 5 miles were all in Palos Verdes and there was a good amount of rolling hills. Every time we hit a hill, I lost contact with Lance. I used to pride myself on being a strong hill runner, but I am really struggling on the hills. My glutes are so much weaker and I much prefer the free speed from a downhill.
Once we got out of Palos Verdes, it was mostly downhill + flat, but these were the miles I also struggled on, so a lot of this section of the course was about holding on and just making it to the 13.1.
We drove the course a few days before, so we knew we would finish right around the Manhattan Beach Pier. It was just about a quarter mile past the pier. Since the strand and beach is currently closed, we finished on Ocean Drive.
Mile 1- 6:15
Mile 2- 6:20
Mile 3: 6:17
Mile 4: 6:34
Mile 5: 6:09
Mile 6: 6:16
Mile 7: 6:01
Mile 8: 6:14
Mile 9: 6:33
Mile 10: 6:38
Mile 11: 6:30
Mile 12: 6:44
Mile 13: 6:38
The mile splits were a bit all over the place, but the average was 6:24 per mile. Right when I finished and hit stop on my Garmin, I smiled when I saw the 6:24 average. That was my exact goal pace for the marathon. Obviously I ran only half the distance, but I was proud to be on that pace in a non-race environment.
Miles 9-13 were rough to say the least. Aerobically, I felt great. I had the capacity to complain and whine to Lance. It was all in my head and the right side of my body. I was feeling pretty good up until the 9th mile. Then, began to mentally check out. Running hard on quiet streets is mentally tough!!! My whole right side of my body was also beginning to tighten up. My right leg was definitely in pain. And because there were no other racers or crowds, it was the only thing I could focus on. The pain really got in my head. I am a pretty tough runner, but I was so mentally and physically tired that I began to shed a few tears. People we passed at the end probably thought I was crazy. I definitely had trouble pushing through the pain and it definitely slowed down my last few miles.
Still, I finished. I definitely did not sprint in like I usually do. I was maxed out. 1:23:45 was all I had on that day. And I am really proud of this time. Not only, is it the easiest PR to remember: 1-2-3-4-5, it is a time that I can say I fought for. I pushed through. I did not give up. I adjusted when original plans fell through. I kept going because here’s the thing, running Boston was never really about running Boston. It was about honoring God. It was about chasing dreams. It was about remembering I can still fight and run hard.
All of this ended in a very different way than I had imagined it would. But in some ways it all makes sense. It ended on an alley. There was no music (headphones stopped working a few miles in), no people, no cheers, no finish line. Yet, in this place of quiet, in this place of literally being in the shadow, I put one foot in front of the other. I hit my Garmin exactly when I saw 13.1 and I immediately went to sit on the curb. Done.
As I was finishing in this quiet alley, my reflective self could not help but think that this is how I want to continue to live out my days for the rest of my life. I hope and pray that regardless of the stage, whether it is an alleyway or Boston or the Olympic Trials, I can run my heart out.
The same is true with my own life. Whether it is writing to an engaged audience of thousands or just one girl that needs to hear the words, I pray that the performance and the heart behind what I do always remains the same. The reality is that I have only an audience of one. This seems to be a theme in my own life. I wrote about this concept nearly a year ago. This is when I can actually act out what I write. It is easy to write it out, but I am convinced the real transformation happens when we actually live out the words we preach.
These past few weeks, I have had to really dig deep. What do I do when really no one is watching? How hard am I willing to push myself when the cheers are silent? Will I keep writing when it sometimes feels like only one sweet friend reads my words? Yes. I will keep running, writing, pushing, dreaming; until God says otherwise.
This is the freeing part. It was never about the stage. It was never about Boston. It was about saying yes to the dreams and visions God has put on my heart. Whether we are in a pandemic or not, I will continue to say yes to God even if that means running for 13.1 miles on empty streets.
In typical fashion, the words are running away from me. The point of this post is to share about my virtual half-marathon, but more so it is to encourage you to not be afraid of saying yes to God when the stage looks dim. To not be afraid to treat things like they are really, really big deals, even when you are running in the shadows.
With this goal virtual race complete, I am going to take some time away from running. I am feeling a bit burnt out. I am ready to take a bit of a break, but I so look forward to my next season with running.
P.S. SO thankful for my husband, coach, pacer, and encourager. You were the best coach because you know me so deeply!