I did it! I finished the Des Moines half marathon today. And yes, I’m still walking, albeit barely. Here’s the mile by mile account of my run.
Starting Line: It was a chilly morning. It was in the low 40’s F, but the sun was shining. The starting line was crowded with people, it was like a street party with a band playing. There were about 5500 people that joined the marathon and the half-marathon. I was happy to know that I am not the only one crazy to run in this cold morning. At exactly 8 AM, we were released to run, however due to the number of people, it took me about 5 minutes after the race had started, before I could cross the starting line. That’s OK, I was giving them a lead start!
1st mile: No sweat at all, in fact I was still feeling cold. I was pacing myself. 12 more miles to go!
2nd mile: I started to warm up. I was feeling good still.
3rd mile: I passed a drinking station and got my first cup of water.
4th mile: I was feeling good about myself as I was maintaining a 10-minute-mile pace. I thought I can finish in 2 hours and 20 minutes which is within my goal of finishing under 2:30. I was barely on my 4th mile when a motorcade going in the other direction passed us by and directed us to stay on the right lane of the road. It was the leading pack of runners for the half marathon, already on their way back of the route! Are you kidding me? This was demoralizing.
5th mile: The lead woman runner of the half marathon passed me by going downstream while I’m still heading upstream. I guess I run like a girl? (I’m not chauvinistic, I’m just stating a fact.) Then I felt an urge. I cannot hold it anymore. I have to take a break. So I did. A restroom break that is.
6th mile: I was working on my 6th mile, when a kid, I don’t think he’s even 12, passed me by, going downstream already. Then shortly thereafter, a grandpa, I believe he’s in his late 60’s or early 70’s, passed me by. My status was deteriorating by the mile! Who’s going to pass me by next? I finally reached the halfway point: the official timer read 1:09.
7th mile: My pace was getting slower. The 2:20 (2 hours 20 minutes) pace runner whom I was trying to follow was getting farther and farther from my view. I let go of my goal of finishing under 2:30. I just want to finish the race at least the same day! The crowd, the singers, the drummers, the mascots on the side of the road, cheered me to go on.
8th mile: I passed the loop of the course and I was now going downstream. I passed by runners who are still going upstream. This infused some morale in me. I’m not the slowest after all. Then I passed a participant who was supported by 2 walking canes as he walked the course. If he is determined to finish despite of his limitations, I should too.
9th mile: I stopped for Gatorade and some Gummy bears. In my head, I can hear my son singing the Gummy Bear song.
10th mile: An ambulance stopped at the side of the road and loaded up a participant into a stretcher. I’m dying here, can you pick me up too?
11th mile: I was reduced into a walk for a few minutes. Now, my goal was just to finish this race, even if it’s not today!
12th mile: Another motorcade came from behind me. Following the motorcade was the lead runner of the Marathon. He already overtook me and he ran twice the distance I covered?!! (I later learned that his name is James Kirwa from Kenya. He finished the marathon in 2:14:20 which is a record time for the Des Moines marathon.) My legs were as heavy as lead, and my feet are aching, but I could smell the finish line, where food (more than just Gummy Bears and Gatorade) were waiting for me.
13th mile: A mile to go! I had renewed determination. There was no train to stop me in my track this time, like what had happened to me last year. The music, the band playing, the cheering crowd was getting louder and louder. I could see the finish line in the distance!
Finish Line: I finally did it! My official time was 2:23:58. (No! It’s not 2 days, 23 hours and 58 minutes! It’s 2 hours and 23 minutes, and 58 seconds.)
Was it worth it? Every mile of it! Now, where the heck is the ibuprofen.