This is the fifteenth article in my 30 in 30 challenge, where I write 30 things I'm thankful for in the 30 days leading up to my thirtieth birthday.
I ran the Flying Pig Half Marathon in May 2009 and it's hard to imagine that such a powerful life moment happened five years ago! I'm not sure when I decided to start training for the pig, but I do know that my sister Kathy inspired me to pick up running again. I had a big pause in the sport after I had my first child and if it wasn't for my sister who became passionate about running, I'm not so sure that I would have run again.
Anyway, she had run the half marathon the year prior and as she was gearing up for training the following year, I got the crazy idea that I wanted to do it to. We promised to train together when we could-this might have been the biggest draw to me wanting to run. I'm a sucker when it comes to family and knowing that I could carve out some special sister bonding with my older sis made me want to commit to running.
So that's the first thing I am thankful for; the time I was able to spend with my sister. It was our time that we got to spend together, our thing we were able to chat about on the way to work and our motivation to keep going. Since I am the "caboose" of the family by 10 years, I had always struggled finding my place. I always saw my older siblings act like they were more friends, while I felt like the "little sister" As I grew older, I was able to find my place among my siblings and have friendship with them.
I'm also grateful for the discipline I learned while training for the half. Before my training, I could decide to run a 10K and do it with very little training. If I wanted to have a successful half, that "last minute mindset" would have to change. I had to ensure that I was running a certain amount of mileage a week and I had to prepare for longer runs. This was tough while also juggling a family and a full-time job, but I came out on the other end alive, so I consider this a huge success!
The half-marathon also helped me appreciate my body. I won't go into the dirty details, but any woman will tell you that once you have children there are just some things that don't go back together again like they once did. For a long time I felt like I was trapped in a body that didn't belong to me. As I began to train, it wasn't that I saw my body change back to before I had a child, but I saw that my body was capable of a lot more than I thought. The fact that I carried my body 13.1 miles is incredible. I carried it from downtown through walnut hills and back into the city, that is a feat that anyone should be proud of! My sister told me to remember how awesome it was that my body did that and as soon as I got to Walnut Hills I remembered how far I have already traveled and I cried during the race. Running is emotional...truly. The half wasn't the only race I cried during--it's a beautiful moment to realize that nothing else got your through the race except for your body and your spirit.
I am also thankful for learning a valuable lesson during the race: proper clothing is ESSENTIAL to running a long distance race. I ran in standard running shorts. I tested them out on a nine-mile run and had no issues. However, on mile seven on the half the chaffing began. Again, no dirty details need to be shared, but what I learned is that friction SUCKS and a girl with soccer legs (me) will ALWAYS have to wear spandex under her running shorts. :)
The sense of accomplishment I felt after the race, might be my proudest moment. I am a competitive person by nature, and as a result I seem to beat myself up over the most ridiculous things. I tell myself over again, "You can do better-you aren't good enough." It was different the day of the half. Did I make the time I wanted? Not at all. Did I probably aim to high? absolutely. But when I crossed the finish line, I felt so proud. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the Greater Cincinnati area, and I as just one of several thousand who came out and kicked some major half marathon butt. I set out to accomplish a goal and I achieved it--it was such an amazing feeling. A friend of mine just recently said that the feeling of crossing the finish line should be bottled up and sold--I couldn't agree with her more!
This might not have been a significant moment in history, but all the little moments of gratitude and lessons learned leading up to this race, make it one I am definitely thankful for.