One’s fitness journey is a very personal thing. It starts for a different reason for each person, and the motivation comes from all different directions. Milestones are different (the first time you do a push up on your toes, or a pull up without assistance), goals are of varying degrees (lose XX number of pounds, look good in a bikini, being comfortable in your own skin). But one thing is universal: when you reach those milestones or end goals…. the feeling is not something you can describe. To anyone. Ever.
I’m going to try.
I started this journey because I lost my grandfather. A man I cared very deeply for, who didn’t take very good care of himself in his later years, and who passed after a surgery that was iffy (at best) to begin with. It was then that I realized that 250 lb Meghann was no longer the Meghann I wanted to be. I wanted to be the BEST possible version of myself, so that I could say when my time comes, that I did everything I can to honor my body and take care of it. So I started with Lose It.
Lose It, for those who don’t know, is an intense 6 week program offered by my local gym. I paid 200.00 (roughly) to have three lovely ladies tell me what to eat, how to work out, and “encourage” (read: yell) at me five days a week. I got up at 6:30 on Saturday mornings to go work out, instead of sleeping in, and I gave up grains, dairy, sugar, and a TON of food I LOVED to get started. The first week? There were tears. I was sore, I was tired, I couldn’t even do a damn burpee. The second week? Things were a little better. I was still sore, I was still tired, but the diet came easier, and I was getting into the swing of things. By week three? I felt like a rock star. I was getting stronger, and faster, and I started running again. I was slow, but I was running a little farther each time.
It was around that time that my BFF, Courtney, had an idea. She said to me “wouldn’t it be so fun to run a race somewhere that wasn’t here? Like, we could go do a RockNRoll Half somewhere. There’s one in San Diego!”
And I thought, “You’re freaking crazy,” but my mouth said “yeah! That sounds like so much fun!”
I trained hard. For six months, I hit the gym almost every single day. I ran with my running group, I did 6 5K races, I ate really well… I trained, and trained, and trained. And I fell in LOVE with the process. I made new friends, I felt confident and strong, I took two more rounds of Lose It, and started dreaming big. I fell so hard for the process that I wanted to help other people. So I started studying to be a personal trainer (ALMOST DONE YAY!). The goal that I had once set that seemed so lofty was within my reach, and went from an end goal to a milestone.
And last weekend, I got to put all that training to the test.
We woke up at the SUPER early time of like 4:00 am. On a Sunday. Now who does that? Runners, that’s who. We called an Uber (because we let the boys sleep), and made our way to our corral. This is the starting line. At 4:30 am. With no one around. Because who in their right mind would be waiting at the starting line 90 minutes before a race? Marathoners, that’s who.
33,000 people. That’s how many people ran this event. Two Olympians, several elite runners, and the rest of us. The only thing we all have in common this day is our love of running, all the other goals/dreams/milestones are different. But the love of running and events like this is what bonds us. These two girls do these things for VERY different reasons. She loves the excitement, the bands, the beer, the FUN parts of it. I love hitting the pavement, the challenge, crossing the finish (though she will tell you she loves that part, too. We ALL love that part). We BOTH love each other, and the medal. 😉
As the sun started to “come up” (it stayed over cast until about 11:00 am that day), more and more people started to gather. Despite the look on my face, I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t have my normal race day butterflies. I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out, or puke, or go crazy at the start like I normally do. I was calm, and collected, and just wanted to get going. I was excited, but not in the “calm down body” way. I was ready.
Normally, at a starting line with a bunch of people, I feel crowded. I feel anxious. I feel like a herd of cattle being sent to slaughter. Not this day. This day I felt electric, and comfortable, and excited. 33,000! I can’t get the number out of my head. So many people, 37 corrals. We waited, and waited, and waited. They released us a corral at a time. The fastest peeps going first, a minute would go by, and then the next wave would go. About an hour after the official start (6:15) we finally crossed the starting line.
The next three hours FLEW by. I didn’t really spend a lot of time studying the course. I wasn’t sure I wanted to. People said “oh, it’s hilly,” which is fine. I had done hill training. I had a plan in place for how I was going to run this race. I knew I could handle the hills. What I wasn’t prepared for was the wave of emotions that would pass over me throughout the WHOLE race.
Usually the first mile goes by pretty quick for me, then miles 2-6 are kinda rough, once I hit 6 though, I’m usually alright. The last half of my long runs have been going by really quickly. I had strategically made a playlist that would force us to run for 5-7 minutes and then walk for no more than 3. There were times when I lost my music because of the bands along the way, and we would end up running for a little longer. The first checkpoint for Daryl (who was tracking us by text) was at 5K (3.1 miles), we came in a little over 40:00. For me? That’s slow. But I was okay with that. I knew it was a long race, and in order to make my goal, I needed to pace myself. So, I didn’t stress. I don’t even think I asked Courtney (who was keeping track of time, but not miles) what our time was until mile 6ish or so.
Mile 4 was pretty uneventful, save for the awesomeness of people (and let me tell you, San Diego people are super awesome). They were offering shots to people as they ran by, HILARIOUS (no, I didn’t do them, I don’t drink…. much). Mile 5 though? Let me tell you about mile 5. Mile 5 was dedicated to those who have served and lost their lives. They lined the streets with pictures and information about these people. As we were going past, a gentleman stopped and took a picture of one of the pictures. Then he paused, and nodded. I lost it. I can only assume that he was a family member of this young man. There were several instances like that as we went along… and then… men and women lined the streets with American Flags. It was very inspiring, and very emotional, and very, very cool. I wasn’t prepared for all the feels along this mile, or the tears that followed. As someone who has friends in the military, and family who has served, it was VERY touching. Thank you all for all you do. ❤
Miles 6-9 were also pretty uneventful. I mean, people had some hilarious signs
“If Donald Trump can run, so can you.”
“Run faster, Game of Thrones is on tonight.”
“Hodor.” (that one made me sad)
My favorite people were the Uber drivers that were cheering everyone on, but offering to drive us to the finish… our little secret. People were passing out candies, and cookies, one guy even had pizza. There were bands, and cheerleaders, and even guys dressed in drag cheering everyone on. It made the time go by so fast.
Mile 10 was hilly. It started off uphill, and at the top, were some tribal drummers. That was probably my favorite live performance of the whole race. At mile 10, we separated. She wasn’t sure how much more running she had in her (side note: she KICKED ASS), and I was feeling pretty darn good for going 10 miles, so I blew her a kiss, told her I loved her, and took off. I had a goal, a goal to finish in less than 3 hours. And as I ran down that hill, weaving in and out of people, I was 95% sure I was going to make it. And then, as I slowed to walk for my walking song, I saw him.
The pacer for 3 hours. We played leap-frog for a little bit, and then, the tunnel.
The tunnel was probably my favorite part of the race. They had a DJ, and it was lit up rave style. I slowed to enjoy the moment. And by MY gps, I was almost done (lesson learned), so I thought I had time. I started to tear up. The day had gone by so quickly, I was feeling SO good, and I was almost across the finish. My best friend and I had set out to do something together, and we did it. I had to tell myself to get my act together, and start going again. The pacer was way ahead of me, but at that moment? I didn’t care. I knew I was close to my goal, and I just didn’t care. I was SO proud of the fact that I had followed through, and was almost done with 13.1 miles (again, lesson learned… it ended up being 13.77).
As I closed in on the final stretch… I had to fight back tears. There is no greater feeling than crossing the finish line. I cannot describe it to you. Whether it’s the first time, or the 100th time (I’m not quite there yet), there is NO other feeling in the world. Giving birth comes really close… but it’s not the same. I took a picture of the finish line as I was coming up on it….
And then I went for it. I sprinted across that line… and missed my goal by 1 minute and 11 seconds. And you know what? I don’t even care. Because this was something I NEVER thought I would do. Not in a MILLION years. My step brothers are IronMen, my step sister is an IronWoman, they do this stuff all the time…. I was NEVER going to do something like this…
When I started this journey… the goal was to figure out how to take care of myself. It was to learn to take care of my body, feed it good food, give it enough water (still working on that one), give it the exercise it needed to be healthy and strong. I had no idea how much bigger I would dream… all the things I would accomplish along the way. I sat in the car on the way home (more trip blogging later) trying to figure out which option I was going to sign up for next year: the 5K plus the half, the half, or the marathon (WHAT?!).
From two semi-scared women:
(Don’t let the smiles fool you… we were like, are we REALLY doing this?)
To FREAKING HALF MARATHONERS:
We did it. And watching her cross that finish line was just as incredible. I screamed at her “WE FREAKING DID IT” as I gave her the biggest, sweatiest hug I could muster. I am JUST as proud of her as I am of me. It’s a day I will not forget, and a feeling I can only hope to replicate with each finish. ❤