December 8th came and went… and I now have a big, shiny finishers medal! That’s right, folks. This girl ran the BCS Scott and White half marathon. I couldn’t have imagined a better race, and from this point on, I will always compare races to this race. It was unbelievable. The people were amazing. The atmosphere was so light and fun, and the scenery was breathtaking and stirred a lot of memories for me.
It all began at 4 am. I woke up, ate 2 blueberry muffins, and tried to lay back down until 5:30… but that didn’t happen. I couldn’t sleep, and I ended up laying in bed until about 5:20. I woke up, put on my game face, made a couple of trips to the bathroom, and laced up my running shoes. I made sure to body glide like a mofo. If you remember from my 10 mile race, I didn’t put any on my feet and I ended the race with a huge blister on my left arch. Ouch. I didn’t make that mistake again.
We arrived at the starting line much sooner than we thought (we left an hour early to avoid traffic and to give us time to drive slowly due to the ice), so we stayed in the warm car for about 45 minutes. Finally, I made the short walk over to the starting line, made another trip to the bathroom (err… port-a-potty), and I was ready to race. I couldn’t hear any of the pre-race things. I guess we were too far back (I started out in the 5:15 marathon pace group). But slowly, we started getting closer to the starting line and I knew that shizz was about to get real.
I crossed the line and started to jog. I ran the first 3 miles ~13 min/mile pace–very slowly. After mile 3, I was well warmed up and I started to increase my speed. I ran at about an 11:30-11:40 minute/mile pace for a while. I felt really amazing, and I was soaking up every bit of this race. The spectators were phenomenal. It was a very cold day. At gun time it was 30 degrees, and it had only warmed up to 36 by the time I finished. But still, there were people out cheering us on, bundled up in coats and blankets, with the occasional shirtless frat-boy. It made me feel really special to be a part of such an awesome group. I finally saw John around mile 8.5. I ran through the middle of the “Brother’s for Christ” group (who were SUPER loud and very motivating so I gave them high fives the entire way), and John was right on the other end, snapping pictures. He asked how I was doing (like he couldn’t tell by the huge smile on my face). I gave him a very enthusiastic, “GREAT!” and swung over to the side of the road for a quick kiss.
My enthusiasm and joy lasted until the last water station. I grabbed a water, and began to walk while drinking it. I decided to walk a little bit longer (~100 yards). That was a mistake. Although it wasn’t long, it was enough for my legs to get out of the “running” mode and starting again was hard, and that difficulty lasted until the end of the race… I still had a huge grin, but it was starting to get painful.
At mile 13, there was a huge commotion on the side of the road in front of me. There was a man on the ground, and CPR was being given. That put a damper on my “OMG I’m almost to the finish line” thoughts–but it also made me feel incredibly grateful that I was able to finish this race, and in such great spirits. I hope the man is ok, and I hope he makes it out to the starting line again once he is well.
200 yards before the finish line, dozens of grinning faces lined the street in the form of photos of the Mercy Project children. The huge banners of the African children gave me what I needed to finish the race, and with tears in my eyes I ran past them and I remembered one big reason I had signed up for this race in the beginning. Last year, the Mercy Project saved over 20 children in Ghana from child slavery. The reunited all but one of those kids with their biological families in Ghana. The one orphan, Famous, was adopted by the Mercy Project founder, Chris Fields, and he is living in Texas with his new loving family.
I started to pick up a little bit of the pace when I saw the finish line. It was downhill (thank the gods!) and I had an enormous smile as I headed down the straight and over the line. I had done it! I had finished this race in 2 hours, 36 minutes, and 31 seconds.
It was so incredible to be able to run on the streets that I trained on all year, and to run by so many amazing places that hold so many memories for me. I ran through the neighborhood that John and I have trained for the past 6 months, through the park where we ran laps after laps after laps. I ran down the street in front of my very first apartment. I ran through the campus of Texas A&M and past many buildings that I had classes in. I ran by Albritton Clock Tower–the same clock tower that my sister, Jordan, coerced me to run to from her apartment about seven years ago (I was less than impressed with running at that point in my life). I ran down the street, looking onto Kyle Field and remembered countless football games where I stood the entire time as the 12th Man. I ran by the statue of Rudder, and remembered the many stories my dear friend Bill had told me about him. I ran in front of the Administration Building, my favorite building on campus. The entire course was amazing, and so full of meaning to me. I am so glad that I got to run a race in my most favorite city on earth, with 4,000 of my closest friends.
I’m already plotting my next step. I have another half marathon in the works for March, and then I’m feeling a little 26.2… Stay tuned.