Half marathon…..FINISHER

Today started at 5am with the sounds of wake up alarms.  Diva April Joy, Diva Kat and Diva Dontre’s alarms sounded in perfect harmony and was followed by the 5:05 alarm of Diva Pam.  I looked at the weather forecast and was happy to see that the rain was expected to hold off until after the race.

Everyone got dressed and ate her choice of pre-race food.  Our place of residence was less than a mile away from the start and finish line so we decided to walk instead of deal with parking and traffic.  We just considered this our warm up.

The crowd was awesome.  It was nice to see so many divas donned in pink and black.  I took my place behind the woman holding the balloons indicating a thirteen minute mile pace.  Just before the start, the Fabulous Four stood giving each other words of encouragement and fist bumps.  I had set my HIIT to 13/:90 intervals.  I knew this would be slightly challenging for me, but I was determined to do it.

The first mile marker I saw was at mile 2.  At mile 3, I was thrilled to hear the time on my Nike+ app.  But I also knew that the pace I was running would be difficult for me to maintain.  The adrenaline wouldn’t allow me to slow down.  At mile 4, Diva Dontre and I were still getting it.  Our pace was actually getting faster.  I thought it was probably too early for the pace to be going in this direction.  At mile 5, I heard someone say; “Mile five, this separates the runners from the non runners.”  Soon after hearing the comment, I looked over to the supporters to a see a guy holding a sign that said, “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear”.  I smiled.  But trust me, I had on underwear.  A few of my sole sisters were also on the side to cheer us on.  When I saw them I knew that they’s be taking pictures.  I had to erase my normal “focused and determined” face because I wanted the picture to be fabulous.  At mile 6, Dontre got a little distance ahead of me but I could still see her.  When she looked back, I gave her the thumbs up that I was ok.  I then waved her on because even though she insisted on staying with me and complete this together, I wanted her to run her pace and not mine.  Just before mile 7, I ran past the place that I was staying and thought about how many times I’ve heard runners joke that during the race they wanted to go to their rooms when they ran past their hotels.  Between mile 7 and 8 there was a sign that said ‘it’s just a hill’,  I was glad it wasn’t a big hill.  As the group was making its way up the hill, a girl near me noticed a tee shirt that said Diva Julie.  She told her friend that she needed that shirt with her name on it.  Another girl overheard her and said, “Hey, your name is Julie?  I’m Julie too.  I can’t believe there are three of us here together.”  I guess the Julie wearing the shirt had earphones in because she didn’t respond when they yelled, “Hey Julie, give us that shirt.”  After the race, i knew I wanted to know how many people named Julie were running the race.  (Turns out there were 25 women named Julie)  At mile 9, the girl who had been in front of me wearing leg warmers stopped to take a picture with a guy and his dog.  There was also a man with a huge Ziploc bag of orange slices that was getting low.  I knew I needed to muster the energy to run faster so I could get a slice.  When I reached him and got my slice, there was only one left.  I felt a little sad for those who didn’t make it to the bag.  That orange slice gave me life.  At mile 10, I was starting to feel fatigued until I heard someone say what I knew I would hear at this point from the crowd, “Keep going.  You only have a 5k to go!”  At mile 11, a girl passed me with a shirt that said ‘you just got passed by a pregnant lady’.  I let her stay ahead of me for a while but I had to pass her.  At mile 11.5, the cheerleaders were there again.  I so needed to see them at this point.  I told myself that I had less than thirty minutes to go and to hang in there.  I heard the voice of Pusha Pam saying “Mind over miles.  You got this!!!”  The photographers were at mile 12.  I knew that when I saw the pictures posted, I didn’t want to look like what I felt.  I put on a happy face for that camera (at least I hope I did, pictures will be posted later this week).  When I passed through the photo zone, my app indicated that I was at the last walk interval.  I was officially less than thirteen minutes away from the finish line and I had hit THE WALL.  My walk time was a little longer than ninety seconds.  I was slightly disappointed in myself that I had kept up the interval for the whole race only to crash this close to the end.  The pregnant lady passed me again.  This time, I didn’t care about finishing before her.  I just wanted to finish.  I recited the Lord’s prayer in my head and asked for the strength to not just finish, but finish strong.  I thought about my tiara, boa, champagne and bling and began to run.  After I got my tiara and boa, I heard Pusha Pam cheering from the left and I knew I was almost at 13.1.    There was also someone on the right that I didn’t know yell, “The finish line is right there.  Keep going April Joy!”  I picked up my pace a little.  I could see the men ahead waiting to give me my bling.  The clock read 2:53:53.  I had successfully finished in less than three hours.  Dontre was at the finish line waiting for me.  I drank my champagne and started to stretch as we waited for Pam and Kat to finish.  While we waited, I called my oldest sister.  I could hear her beaming with pride through the phone.  When the other two finished, we went to take our pictures and gather our belongings from gear check.  The walk back to our place was tough and I thought those twenty steps would take me out.

When it was time for a shower, my nerves started again.  I didn’t buy any BodyGlide and I had heard horror stories of runners discovering chafing when they showered after a race.  I turned the water in and hoped for the best.  I’m happy to report that my body survived.  No screaming from the shower.

“Yesterday, I was a runner.  Today, I’m a runner and a half marathon FINISHER!!!!”  What a fabulous experience.  The thing that made it more special was that I was able to do it with three of the six women I completed my first 5k with nine month ago.  This DIVA is exhausted but feeling accomplished.  Yes, I’m ready to do another.  Official time 2:48:59

39 things to do before I turn 40 – Complete a half marathon…..CHECK!!

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Category: Pen & Pavement, The List