Dear Depression and Self Doubt,
For the last month or so you have put up a good fight. At times I gave in and let you get the upper hand, but I am stronger than that. And while I know we will meet again on the battlefield, today I am victorious. Today, on my 32nd birthday, I WIN!
Each of my half marathons have been a unique experience, never the same. They each hold a special meaning in my heart, but #4 might go down as one of the most special and emotional experiences I have ever had in running.
Leading up to the race, I was no where near as prepared as I should have been or wanted to me. I let life and some terrible shoe issues get in the way. Months of unhappiness and stress at work were taking a toll on me. Knowing I was about to be another year older and still hadn't been blessed with a baby (the 2 legged kind) lingered in the back of my mind. I was in a full on battle with my depression and preparing for this race sort of got pushed to the wayside. To top it off, just 2 weeks before we found out Dutchess had Lymphoma and we only had a few months at best left with her. I WAS A MESS!!
For a while I thought about pulling out of the race or just doing the 5K with Kipper and Whitley. But the week before the race I decided to just go and have fun. It was just going to be a birthday "fun run" that just happened to be 13.1 miles. lol. Plus I gave up on trying to make my Hoka's work for me and just bought some new inserts for my tried and true Air Pegasus.
The morning of the race, I actually felt pretty good. I was at peace, relaxed and ready to have a fun day with some of my favorite people.
They started with the 5k runners and then about 15 minutes later AJ and I were off on half #4! About 3 miles in I realized I was keeping up with 3 hour pace group. At first I panicked that I was going to wear myself out (my best time was 3:28 and that was when I was training really hard) but I chilled out and just kept going with them. I had never really run with a pace group, but it was nice. We chit-chatted a bit, learned several of the people where running their first half, one of the ladies for her 50th birthday that was just a few weeks away. I stayed with them until just before mile 6 1/2 when I spotted Kipper and Whitley and slowed down to give hugs.
Around mile 7 and then again at 8, I got to see Kipper and Whitley again. They were the best Sherpas and even ran with me for about a 1/2 a mile. That might have been one of my favorite parts of this race. Especially since it was a small race and there were times you sort of felt like you were doing this alone.
When I waved them goodbye and took off for the last part of the course, I had such an overwhelming sense of peace that seemed to surround me. I took most of the rest of the race to really reflect. Reflect on the past year, all the amazing things that have happened, all the times I just wanted to give up, the excitement of my new job, and how spending the last year learning to truly trust God's plan has been the hardest, most amazing journey. Pretty sure there was a good mile that I had tears streaming non-stop. It was almost like an out of body experience. It was my God moment of this race for sure.
The last mile or so was actually on the track of Texas Motor Speedway. This was one of the hardest parts, because no matter how close you were to the wall you still ran on a slight incline. Right before the 12 mile marker was the last rest stop. As I approched all of the ladies volunteering started singing "Happy Birthday!" I had no idea how they knew it was my birthday, but it was AWESOME!! (I later found out that AJ told them when see went through the stop!)
I took off from that last stop with a huge smile on my face, ready to finish out strong! At this point I knew that unless something went crazy wrong, by the grace of God I was going to set a PR. I turned on my favorite Chris Tomlin song as I rounded the last curve, to see Kipper waiting just a little before the finish line. He ran with me until right before the finish line when I picked up my pace. (he took a video of me running to the finish line...I have never been so proud of a video of my butt!)
As I ran towards the finish line I could see AJ, Whitley and Chelsey cheering me on just on the other side. Then the announcer said my time and the water works started! A week before I was ready to not even run because I was worried about finishing. But not only did I finish, I set a new half marathon PR. And not by just a few minutes either. I PR'ed by nearly 10 minutes!!! 10 MINUTES!!!
A year ago the dream of finishing a half marathon was just that - a dream. I still can't believe all that I achieved in a year and I know what is to come is going to be just as exciting. This race just reminded me that all things are truly possible with God. I can't give in to self doubt, when I feel waves of depression coming on I have to fight it. If I would have given in, I would have missed out on this experience. An experience that I know was an important part of my journey.
Thank you to everyone who cheered me on, prayed for me, sent sweet birthday messages, and encouraged me to push myself to limits I never imagined. A small piece of this victory was because of you!
I can't wait to see what all year 32 has in store for me! Cheers!!