Four years ago, I watched as my friend picked up her race packet for the Oklahoma City Memorial half marathon. "That's so cool," I said. "I could never do anything like that."
I'd never run longer than three miles at a time, and thirteen sounded so incredibly, insanely far. Half marathons were for real runners. People who were brave and adventurous and had really nice calf muscles. They weren't for people like me.
Six months later, I ran my first half marathon, and it changed my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's true.
Since then, I've gotten most of my family to start running. In 2012 I ran the OKC Memorial half with my dad, and I did a mud run with my brother Daniel. Last year, my dad and I both ran the full marathon, and I finished the 2013 Texas Cowtown half marathon side by side with my brother Austin, whose pacing and encouragement helped me finally hit my goal of a sub 2-hour half.
This past weekend, my mom and I ran the OKC Memorial 5k together. After four years of watching the rest of us, I thought my mom deserved a chance to join in the racing fun. So I signed both of us up and gave her the registration as a Christmas present.
[Side note: The race start was delayed 2 hours due to thunderstorms.
We were forced to hang out in a parking garage. Comfy.]
- - -
She started out using the plan I highlighted in part 1 of my "How to Start Running" series: 10 minutes of walking + 1 minute of running. Over time, she decreased the walking minutes as she increased running minutes.
On Sunday, we crossed the finish line in just under 42 minutes with only two short walking breaks, which means she went from 1 minute of running to over 40 minutes of running in five months.
She was so nervous at the start, that her hands shook as she pinned her bib to the front of her shirt. "My goal is to finish," she told me. I laughed. "That's a good one."
- - -"Look! There's the finish line!" I said as we turned the corner, our 3.1-mile journey almost complete.
"Where? I can't see it!" she said, craning her neck around the tall guy in the gray shirt who was right in front of us. We switched sides so she could run on the outside and get a good view of the green FINISH sign.
[photo credit to my friend Jenna!]
"We're not stopping until we cross the finish line," I said.
"But I think I'm going to die!" she cried.
"I know it feels like you are," I said calmly, "but you're not. Hang on. We're almost there."
With the finish line just steps away, she gave it a final push and crossed in 41:57.
"I think I'm going to start crying," she said.
"That's okay," I replied, patting her back. "That's okay. You did awesome. I've definitely cried after races before."
She leaned into me then, and her shoulders shook with sobs. "I can't believe I did that."
On Sunday I basically sat in front of my computer hitting "refresh" on my Facebook page as my friends continued to post pictures from the race. I'm just so freaking proud of them all.
Jessica ran her first marathon; Marisa and Stephanie ran their first halfs; Scott, Natalie, and Sabrina finished half marathons; Ashley and Beka ran in marathon relays; and on Saturday one of my college friends (and maid of honor) Justine ran the 6.9-mile leg of a marathon relay in Illinois, beating her time goal by 15 seconds/mile. Months and months ago she originally started running on the treadmill for 20 seconds at a time, and she just ran nearly 7 miles. There are no words. Shoutout also to Abbey, who ran her first marathon last weekend.
Listen: If running isn't your thing, that's okay. It's not for everyone, and I get that. I don't like volleyball. It's all good.
But if you never start because you don't think you can do it, then you're only cheating yourself. When it comes to running, you can absolutely do it.
At the end of the day, it's not about the medal or the t-shirt. It's about getting out there. Being healthy. Achieving goals for yourself that you never thought possible.
And if you take the chance, I promise it will change everything. It certainly did for me.
Congrats on your race, Mom. I'm so proud of you.
And to Sarah, my dear little sister, you're the only one left. I'm coming for you.