Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How Many Miles?

Four years ago when I was younger and much more ambitious, I decided to run my first half marathon in Miami. I had never been to Miami before and a few of my friends came up with the idea but ended up dropping out last minute so I dragged my little sister Grace along with me to accompany me on the trip. When I signed up for the half marathon I thought, "it can't be that hard right?" Then I thought a little harder and realized that not only was I not a runner but I actually hated running! Oh crap, what had I gotten myself into? It's one of those things that I felt I had to accomplish before I died so I said, what the hell, and began training. Since the race was in February and I was living in Boston at the time, I was forced to join a gym so I could run on the treadmill considering my peak training months would be the winter. I started off by running like 10 minutes, then 20 minutes and then increasing the mileage according to the handy dandy 'training for your first half marathon' guide I printed off of the Internet. But it wasn't getting any easier and I still hated running! And running on a treadmill? The worst! So my next idea was to brave the cold, bundle up and run on the streets of Boston. In my mind I was convinced that I could do it but in reality I would get through one mile and then walk. I think the most I ever actually ran before I flew to Miami for the race was 3 miles. Considering the half marathon was 13.1 miles I figured I was screwed! But who cares if I finished last? I certainly didn't! Off to Miami I went.

When Grace and I arrived in Miami, we went to the Convention Center to pick up my race bib, shirt and all the info I needed for the big day. I was so nervous and scared that I almost chickened out but figured since I was here and am physically able to do this 13.1 mile thing, I might as well go forth and conquer. That night, we went to dinner where I ate only pasta and bread (just like my high school  pasta parties before softball games) and I retired early to bed. Before I fell asleep, I checked my alarm at least ten times (we had to be at the start line at 5 AM) and said a prayer that I would be able to make it through every last mile of tomorrow's race. Yikes! 

My alarm went off the next morning at the crack of dawn and Grace and I got up, got dressed and walked outside to the designated meeting area for all of the runners. God Bless Grace's little soul for making that sign that said "Go Erin!' and sitting by herself for hours waiting for me to cross the finish line. She was the best cheerleader I could have asked for. And her reward after this was over? We were headed to Las Vegas then Los Angeles to finish up our vacation in style. I gave Grace a hug as she took her seat on the bleachers at the finish line and I walked off to meet the other runners at the start. Even though I was terrified, there was so much energy oozing from all the other runners, that I was actually excited to start the run. A wave of emotion came over me as the gun went off and I suddenly became Forrest Gump. 
The entire route was full of screaming, encouraging well wishers who would yell your name as you passed (at first I was like, "how the heck do they know my name?" until I realized 'ERIN" was prominently displayed was on my bib) and literally make you forget that you still had like 10 miles to go. Just running through the streets of Miami, looking around at the scenery made me forget what I was actually doing and even though I got passed by people who were running the full marathon, I managed to keep up with the pack that I started with, even passing a few of them myself! I don't know how I did it (a pure miracle if you ask me) but I managed to run the entire 13.1 miles (with an exception of one brief Port-a-Potty break) without collapsing. The minute I saw Grace at the finish line, I started to cry (I am so my mom) and even though I finished in just over 4 hours, it was still an impressive feat for me. 

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