On Sunday, I ran my fourth half marathon.
What the … what? Kimi Joy has run FOUR half marathons?
I still don’t believe it.
But I know it’s true because I have the medal to prove it.
Leading up to the race, I was feeling … I don’t know … it’s hard to describe. I had the same race nerves that I always get — a mixture of nervous, excited and tired. But it was different than my other races. Maybe it’s because I’ve got my pre-race routine fairly well perfected.
Maybe it was because I had a gaggle of friends out on the course with me — some running, some cheering.
Regardless, I was feeling pretty good about the race. As we all lined up for our respective races, I was reminded what an amazing thing it was we were about to do. Whether it was the 5k walk or a full marathon, every racer out there was doing something for their health. None of ushad to be out there. And that, my friends, is a very cool thing.
The full marathoners, my friend Becky among them, took off on their course as the half marathoners lined up. It’s such a neat experience to line up with people of all ages and abilities. Running is really a community sport, and it’s a blessing to be part of that community.
I had planned on lining up with the 2:30 pace group, the the pacers lined up way too close to the starting line, and I was never able to make my way through the crowd to run with them. So, I ended up pacing myself for the race. I do most of my training runs alone, anyway, so it’s not a big deal. Besides, it gave me a chance to run the race at my pace, chatting with other runners along the way.
The first few miles were great. I felt strong and solid — helped, I’m sure, by the downhill start. Having Kelly and Mr. B out on the course cheering for me and the rest of The Crew made turning every corner super fun, never knowing when they were going to pop up with their awesome signs and hugs.
By mile 5, I was ready for a potty break. And I took the nearest one I could find. There was a short line — only a couple people in front of me. Bad idea. I waited in line for nearly 5 minutes while the race clock ticked on.
As I finally got back on the course, tying my pants up as I ran, I realized I was out of water. I texted Mr. B to have my extra water bottle ready to go for me when I saw him next. I grabbed a Gu Brew at the next stop. I knew Powerade and Gatorade made my stomach hurt. But I needed something. Should have stuck to the water. For the rest of the race, I was extremely urpy. Not to be gross, but I was eating chia seeds for the rest of the run — chia seeds I had eaten hours earlier for breakfast.
Running with a belly ache isn’t fun. But it’s survivable. And so I ran. Happy as ever to be out there. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect.
Mr. B (and Kelly) met me just before we headed up our first noticeable hill. Mr. B handed me my water and ran for a bit with me. I could barely keep my lips off his adorable running face. But, we had to part ways. There was a race to be run.
The next, oh, five miles or so went by super fast. I was having a great time urping myself through the course. Had plenty of water and only ate one Gu — was simply too afraid of the ramifications to put anything else in my belly, but I knew I needed something.
Then came mile 12. The hill. The dreaded hill. From far away, it looks so sweet and innocent. But by the time we were sliding ourselves up her curves, all of us realized what a feisty beast she was. I resorted to power walking the second half of the hill. My power walking, however, was faster than most of the people who insisted on running it, and I easily slid past them.
And by then, we were running down the homestretch. One last runners’ spit and I’d be headed in the finish for my photo. Note to my fellow runners: If you do not announce yourselves when you’re passing me and there’s a lot of commotion of a crowd, you may get spit on. Luckily, I saw her shadow move, and I avoided a very awkward situation.
As we turned and I saw the finish line, I took off toward the clock, which had just ticked north of 2:18. I heard my name being yelled. Or, at least I assume it was mine. It very well could have been “Petey” or “Katie” or “Jim.” Regardless, it was nice to hear something that sounded like “Kimi!!!!”
And then, like the flash that I was, my fourth half marathon was over.
I met up with Mr. B, who met my very sweaty self with a hug and a smooch. And a backpack full of snacks. He even remembered to bring me some of my favorite cookies! We found Kelly and cheered on our friend Patti as she finished her first half marathon.
And then it was time for me to head back out on the course to meet up with Anna. Anna also was running her first half marathon that day, and I promised her I’d run the last leg of the race with her. Thankfully, I met her at the top of that hill instead of at the bottom.
The group hung out under a nice, shady tree — hot dogs and cookies in hand — as we waited for Becky to finish up her marathon. We all gathered at the finish line when we expected to see Becky come across. After a while, I decided to run back out and meet her to run in with her as well. And I ran for a while … to the bottom of that hill … and didn’t see her. So, I circled back out the course. I made it back out to mile marker 23 where I ran in to Marathon Don, who told me he had seen a group of ladies headed back toward the finish line. Crap. Somehow I had missed Becky.
So I sprinted back up the hill. Made it up the hill at a 7-minute pace. Wish I could have pulled that out during my race.
Mr. B texted. They had met Becky, and the rest of the group was running her in. He was on his way, barefoot, toting all of my stuff, out to find me. I stopped running. Tired. Defeated. Sad. Annoyed.
But then I saw Mr. B. Somehow he’s able to calm every nerve and put every negative thought to rest. And we walked hand-in-hand back to the finish area to meet up with the rest of the group.
I come away from the Kalamazoo Half Marathon incredibly proud of all of us. It’s a great thing to run a race — whether it’s a 5k or an ultra marathon. And every single runner should be proud when they cross that finish line, regardless of time. To reach the finish line is an accomplishment. And never, ever let anyone tell you differently.
I also come away from the race knowing something else: I don’t think I have the desire to run another full marathon. I simply LOVE the half marathon. The training, the timing, the distance, the accomplishment. All are perfect for me and my lifestyle. Now, that’s not saying that somewhere down the line I won’t get marathon fever again. But for me, for my life, for now: I have found my distance. And I am proudly a half marathoner.