When I first registered for the Total Fitness Connection’s Mini Marathon in Bowling Green, I asked my husband to drive to Kentucky with me so I could show him my alma mater (Go Hilltoppers!). I thought we would drive down on Friday, March 26, spend the night at our friends’ place, and drive back to St. Louis late Saturday or early Sunday. But a couple of weeks ago, one of my husband’s friends invited him, along with a bunch of other guys, to his family farm for a “man trip”—complete with firearms—on March 26. He told me he didn’t have to go—that he would come to Kentucky instead. But I could see how much he really wanted to go to the farm. Therefore, we compromised.
My husband went to the farm on Friday for several hours, and returned home by midnight. I went to bed very early (thank you, Benedryl), and woke up at 1:30 a.m. We packed the car, and were on the road by 2:00 a.m. I drove since I was wide awake with nervous anticipation and a little bit of fear about the race. My husband claimed to be awake and offered to drive, but within 10 minutes of leaving the city, he was snoring loudly in the passenger seat. The roads were pitch black, and the stars were hiding behind trees and clouds. I listened to an audiobook to keep my mind off of the quickly approaching race, and drove the 290 miles to Bowling Green.
We arrived in Bowling Green a few minutes ahead of schedule, and I had plenty of time to pick up my bib number and race packet. My husband and I relaxed in the car, eating the Kashi bars that I had packed. I coated my body with sunscreen, debated whether or not to change into my running tights (I ultimately decided to wear shorts), and filled my fuel belt. My husband and I then started towards the start line, stopping first to wait 15 minutes in line for the port-o-let. At the start line, I turned on my iPod and focused on the audiobook until we started.
My bib number
I didn’t have a set pace goal for the race. Truthfully, I doubted whether I could even finish the whole race without walking a large portion of it. So, I just set my watch and ran. I didn’t pay attention to my time until I passed the three mile marker. At that water stop, I glanced down at my watch. 28:54. I did a double-take. I was running at a sub-10 pace. When I was younger, I would have been horrified at the thought of running so slow. Being older, weaker, and sicker than I was then, I was thrilled at the idea of running a sub-10 pace in a half marathon. Part of me was worried that I had gone out too fast and was going to really hit the wall. But I hushed that negative, worrisome voice and continued running.
When I called my husband at mile 12 to have him meet me at the finish line, he was shocked. “You’re doing great, sweetie! Much faster than you thought.”
I had to agree with him. I was doing great. I hadn’t hit the wall. I was happily chatting with another runner. I was feeling great and having a wonderful time.
When I reached mile 13, my husband was there to greet me—snapping photos as I ran by. I crossed the finish line at 2:10:39. It was barely a sub-10 time, but I was still proud. It was a PLPR (post-lupus personal record). And I only walked through the water stops (I have never mastered drinking while running). I just kept running!