The Armadillo Dash Half Marathon – My Longest Run
While brainstorming about my 2014 fitness goals at the end of last December, a thought popped into my head about finishing a half marathon. As a frequent 5k runner it was no secret that fun runs and events were my passion, but I’ve never been interested in running for more than about 5-7 miles at once. However, for some reason I decided that it was time to check a half marathon off my list (kind of crazy since it was never really even on my list).
I signed up for a local run, the Armadillo Dash Half Marathon. I had run this 5k course so I knew the event was a fun one. I designed a training plan and began putting in the work. If you’ve ever even heard of me, you probably know that I HAAAAAATE cold weather. I swear my body simply does not regulate its temperature properly and since I’ve lost over 120 pounds, I have literally hated cool to cold temperatures – and better yet, I love HOT weather. Bring on those hot Texas 3-digit temp summers! Anyway, I bring this up because the this past winter has really been a COLD ONE. I mean, it’s snowed a couple of times even. The numerous freezes really got in the way of my focus. I made several attempts to train on the treadmill but those were often poor performances that left me full of doubt and disappointment. I am an OUTDOORS runner. Somehow, I made it through the training only missing a couple of runs.
I had a great deal of support from friends and family during my training, but specifically two people really helped me endure the obstacles I faced. My boyfriend Patrick, who is less interested in personal fitness than myself, was by my side every step of the way – literally. He went with me on the long runs – but he’s not a runner. He followed me in his truck, on a four-wheeler and even rode my hybrid bicycle a few times. He cheered me on during the training sessions and lifted my spirits when I lacked confidence. He was – is my biggest fan. He is the reason I kept going so many times. Then there was Vanessa. She’s one of my best friends and an EXPERT runner. I went to her with technicality. I told her all the details of my routines. I told her how I didn’t think I was progressing. I told her in detail about every FAILED run, as well as every successful run. I told her what I ate. I told her what hurt. Poor Vanessa – she was probably more happy to see me complete training than I was. She encouraged me. She offered constructive criticism and educated me. I could not have completed this training without Patrick and Vanessa by my side.
So finally, after two long months of training, the day had finally come. The run was scheduled to be on Sunday. Saturday evening, just as I finished my manicure, my mom called. I figured she was calling to wish me good luck – she’s that kind of mom! She told me that she had just got to town and she wanted me to come eat dinner with her. WHAT?!?!? Back home, about 3 hours away, my friends and family had a very busy weekend. My nephew had a birthday party earlier that day and the local livestock show was in full swing. I couldn’t BELIEVE she somehow found the time or energy to drive 3 hours just for me. She is THAT kind of mom! I got dressed and headed to the restaurant of her choice. She said she’d be on the patio so when I arrived I just walked right in. Then, my mouth DROPPED. There were 6 people (amazing friends and family) sitting at a table waiting on Patrick and I to join them for dinner. They were decked out in HOT PINK shirts that said TEAM KARA on the back and WE DON’T SWEAT WE SPARKLE on the front. I cried. 🙂
After dinner I went home, settled in and couldn’t have been MORE READY to run. I had a full 6 days of tapering and I had the best support group anyone could ask for. My alarm sounded at 5 am. I dressed all in black, as I was prepared to attend a funeral for my fat. The weather forecast was calling for thunderstorms. We had all prayed that the rain would hold off ’til after the event. At 7am we took off across the start line as the sky allowed a light mist to fall down on us. I had some great friends running with me. Vanessa, of course, and my friend Tiffany. Tiffany and I signed up for this event together. We were both conquering the day, rain or shine. This was a milestone for Tiffany, as it was her first half marathon too!
I lost sight of Tiffany around mile 4. Vanessa was gone in a flash. I ran most of the run by myself – which was just fine. I enjoyed it. It rained, it stopped, it rained, it stopped, and so on. Finally, somewhere around mile 10 I saw a big group of PINK on the side of the road. It was raining and they STILL came out. They had a huge sign that said GO KARA. These people are crazy! I was SOOOO overjoyed to have them I began balling. So it was raining, I was running uphill and I was crying to a point that I could hardly catch my breath – this feeling is also known as ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I waved at them, tried to thank them and kept going – I was ALMOST finished. Around mile 11.5 – 12 – the cold front BLEW IN. It started POURING down rain. It got COLD. I could only see one other runner. I was so close.
As I approached the finish line it was hard to see with the rain slapping me in the face. Then I saw the PINK SEA again. Through the rain, through the pain, through it all – there they were – the whole group! I wasn’t even sure if it was real. WERE they crazy? I mean it was pouring down rain and cold!! I crossed the finished line and Vanessa was right there. She wrapped her arms around me and the WATER WORKS really went into play. She knew how hard I had worked for that moment. She knew every single one of my struggles. She knew the doubt I had was gone. Then Patrick, Jane, my Mom, Doris, Cassie, Ginny, Patrick’s mom and Dad, Lacy and her friend – every single one of them were there – cheering – offering hugs – in the rain.
That day was a milestone. I had never honestly wanted a half marathon on my list. Why did I change that? Who knows, who cares – I did it!!!
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