Yesterday was a pivotal day for me. I ran my first half marathon. Thirteen point one miles. This had been on my bucket list for the last few years, and specifically the American Fork Half because the first 8 miles you run down a beautiful canyon.
I registered about six months ago, planning to train hard and run the whole thing. Then life happened, I got sick (a few times), lost one job and started another, add in divorcing drama and learning to balance being a single mama and finding time for me.With all of this, my training did not go as planned. About a month ago, when I realized that there as no way I was running the entire thing and it looked pretty hopeless that I would even run part of it, I was really tempted to just quit. Withdraw and chalk it up to this not being the right time in my life. But then I realized that the reason I wanted to do this wasn’t simply just to say I ran 13 miles. I needed to prove to myself that I could finish this race.
I didn’t truly realize just how important it was to me to finish until yesterday crossing the finish line.
I end up staying the night before in a hotel (my home is about an hour from the city that was holding the race) and I had to be up at 3:45 am. This was good in theory but awful in practice. The hotel was HORRIBLE!! The bed was squeaky, it was loud and I very literally got only three hours of sleep. Thankfully, the excitement of the day was enough to get me up and going when my alarm went off.
I ended up parking about half a mile away from the busses (I ended up really regretting this after the race was over!) and headed to catch the buses. It was dark and cold but I was excited to be there. I loaded the bus and headed up the canyon. Once we were dropped off I was in a sea of runners bundled up in their silver emergency blankets. I was cold and it was dark but there was nowhere I would have rather been at that moment.
It felt surreal. And amazing. And like I belonged there. I had worried I would be the only runner/walker (I really thought I would end up walking most of it) but there was a wide range of runners and walkers and it felt wonderful to be among them. Then it was time to race.
I paced myself right away, knowing I was going for distance, not speed. It. felt. incredible. And I ran! I ran 2.5 miles without stopping (I had only ever run about a mile straight while training) and felt invincible. The first 8 miles are through the canyon and you had to be out by the two-hour mark or the buses would pick up you and take you to the finish. That was my goal: finish the first 8 miles in under 2 hours. And I did. In fact, I ran most of the first 8 miles. I took occasional walking breaks but I RAN!! Further and harder than I ever have. It was amazing.
I was brought to tears many times before, during and after this race. It was very emotional on many levels.
My soon-to-be-ex husband was (and still is) very emotionally abusive, in a passive aggressive manner. When I first decided I wanted to start running, about 5 years ago, I worked hard and told myself that my reward for running my first 5K would be new, “real” running shoes. I took him shopping with my to get them and the abuse came out loud and clear. He didn’t ever say I couldn’t do it, or that I wasn’t worth it but he made such a big deal about me wanting to spend money on running shoes (we had PLENTY of money and he spent it on himself all the time) that subconsciously that message took root.
There have been many more instances since then and I realized a few months ago that these messages were creating a mental block I couldn’t get through. I have found as I have worked through many of the trauma’s of my marriage and my early childhood through EMDR therapy that I have to actually feel the emotions associated with these blocks if I want to move past them.
Logically I knew my stbx was being abusive and was wrong but emotionally this information was holding me prisoner.
And what I realized yesterday while running is that HE IS WRONG. He does not get to limit me any more. He does not get to tell me what I can or can’t accomplish or what I am capable of. He doesn’t get to have that control.
When I was truly considering separation, and eventually divorce, I had this image in my mind of my stbx putting me in a packing box, taping it up and taking full control of everything about me. That’s what my marriage had felt like at that point. Yesterday I broke out of that box. I have been working on doing that for almost two years but actually accomplishing this goal I have had for myself and something my stbx had power over me with has been life changing.
I finished the last 5 miles mostly walking. By that point my legs were shot. I had only ever trained 8 miles as the longest so I knew the last 5 would be a mind game. I ran a little but my body was shot. Still, I kept my pace and worked towards my goal of 15 min/miles. The scenery was beautiful. The mountains breathtaking and the fresh air exhilarating. I loved it, even when my legs were burning and my feet were balancing blisters.
Coming in view of the finish line was one of the most amazing moments of my life. I had tackled the race one mile at a time, keeping my goals broken down to help my mental game. It had worked. Each mile seemed to seamlessly pass by. I had watched each mile marker and when I saw 13 it felt like I had accomplished something I had never before dreamed possible. It felt like I had broken out of that box and I could do anything.
I ran the last bit and crossed the finish line triumphantly. I got my medal and checked my time. 3 hours and 15 minutes. I had reached my goal.
As sore as I have been today (stairs are not my friend!) and am so grateful I accomplished this goal yesterday. I am grateful I didn’t give up and I’m grateful my body and mind are strong. I am strong. Proving to myself that I am physically strong has cemented in my mind that I am mentally and emotionally strong too. I can do anything and I am worth everything.
Bring on the next race!