In the fall of 2011 I fell down the stairs in my house and broke a rib. I just re-read the post I wrote about it and I said that the doctor gave me order not to run for one week. I’m pretty sure I was delusional when I wrote that because I am certain he said 6-8 weeks. I was in the midst of training for my first marathon at the time so I’m sure there was no way I wanted to believe that I couldn’t run for that long. As it turned out, thanks to lots of rest, a mix of homeopathic remedies and Ibuprofen I was comfortably back in action after about 3 weeks. One of my first double digit runs after the injury was the Monson Memorial Classic half marathon. The idea was to enjoy a change of scenery and have fun with the long run. I was not looking for a PR or any special time. To date it remains my slowest half marathon. I finished in 2:22:57 (10:55 pace).
This fall in my attempt to complete at least one race a month I needed to find a race for November. The Monson Memorial Classic was once again a last minute decision. It was held on November 10, 2013 and again fell on a day that I worked the night before. I coordinated with my friend who lives on the race route and since she was going to be home Carlos could hang out at her house and play with her son who is the same age.
Quick side story… My friend who lives in Monson is my best friend from childhood. We grew up across the street from each other. She is a couple of years older than me, but we have maintained a close friendship since we were kids. We used to talk about moving to California, going to college there and then we planned to have children around the same time so they could be friends too! However, she got married when she was 25 and had three boys before I even got married so we never imagined we would have children the same age. I love her kids. They are awesome boys and I have always thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them. I called Missy the day after I discovered I was pregnant to tell her. Of course she was thrilled for me. She called me the next day to let me know she was also pregnant, but didn’t want to tell me the day before because she didn’t want to steal my thunder. I was so excited to know we were going to have children at the same time. Sadly she miscarried a month later. Fate works in mysterious ways though and she became pregnant again months later. Her 4th boy arrived 3 and a half months after Carlos was born. When those boys get together they are best buds and have so much fun together just as their moms did.
OK back to the race. So with little fanfare my friend dropped me off at the starting area of the race so I could register at the last minute. I hung out by myself feeling a little self-conscious and rather indifferent about running a half marathon. At that point I was tentatively training for the 50K race I did in December. I had actually run 5 miles right after work that same morning. I remember feeling great during that run. I just looked back at Map My Run for the workout and I ran 5.05 miles in 47:28 which is a great pace for me. So the half marathon was really meant to make up the rest of an 18 mile run I had on my training plan.
The weather was cool and a bit overcast, but perfect for running. The race started with little fanfare and we were off. This race is notorious for its hills. You climb slowly here and there for much of the first 8 miles. It’s a challenging course with few spectators and not a great deal of scenery to enjoy. I fell into a comfortable pace, my breathing was calm and I actually felt great once I got going. Then it began to rain rather unexpectedly. It wasn’t heavy rain and it did little to disturb my groove.
I’m not sure I can explain what happened during this race, but I was on fire. My legs felt amazing. My pace was steady. I powered up every single hill without backing down. I had absolutely no idea what my time was at all throughout the race. The last couple of miles were brutal as the rain picked up and the temperature grew colder. Although there is a nice downhill stretch towards the end there is also another big hill to contend with.
As I was entering the home stretch in the last mile a woman passed me pushing a wheelchair. I read her shirt and knew immediately she was a member of Team Hoyt. Team Hoyt is the organization inspired by the father and son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt. Dick Hoyt has pushed his son Rick, who is in a wheelchair, in over 1000 races including the Boston Marathon multiple times. This woman was pushing a little girl who was older and larger than Carlos. My eyes welled up with tears and I felt a surge of energy as I saw the finish line ahead. I had no desire to “beat” this woman, but suddenly I needed to finish my race strong. If she could run 13 miles pushing this beautiful child then surely I could keep up my momentum all the way to the finish.
I didn’t even see the time as I crossed. I kept my eye on the woman and the little girl. As I cleared the finish chute I went to her and with tears in my eyes I congratulated her and the girl. It was her daughter she said as her eyes also filled with tears. We spoke briefly and she told me that she runs with Team Hoyt to raise money and awareness for others with disabilities. She was around my age and told me that only a couple of years prior she was overweight and inactive. I was in awe of how fit she was now. She had to turn her attention to someone greeting her, but her husband immediately introduced himself. He was beaming with pride and said that both he and his wife had undergone a huge transformation over the past year. I am constantly inspired when I run races, but this was an exceptionally moving encounter.
It was hours before I would learn my time. Honestly it wasn’t a focal point of this race as it had been with other races last year. For me it was just my “November” race. Well it also turned out to be my 2013 half marathon PR. Prior to this race my official half marathon PR of 2:03:52 was achieved at the Plattsburgh Half Marathon in April (I just re-read my race recap of that race and I now have tears running down my face #iamagoof!). My new half marathon PR set at the 2013 Monson Memorial Classic Half Marathon is 2:02:22!!
Funny story about the race results. When I finally got the email announcing they were online I checked them out right away. I was nowhere to be found. However, I knew the woman’s name from Team Hoyt and there was a mysterious “Unknown” a few people below her time with a time of 2:02:22 which I suspected might be me. The age was correct, but the Unknown was a male. I sent an email through the race website and politely explained that I thought it might me my time. Although I felt kind of silly, I asked if there was any way to determine whose time it was because if it was my time it was a hard earned PR for me. I also asked if it was my time could they please change the sex to female. I know it’s silly, but for some reason I get a charge out of pulling up the growing list of my race results on Athlinks and I wanted this race to get listed there as well. I was contacted by a very understanding race director confirming that it was indeed my time.
What a year in running for me!! Truly incredible! If you had told me a few years ago that this running thing would become such a huge part of my life I would have rolled my eyes and snidely told you “I don’t think so.” Running isn’t everyone’s thing and that’s really ok, but get out there and move even if it’s only a little bit. The more you move, I guarantee you, the more amazing you will feel.