Sunday, November 21, 2010
I ran the race. My race.
Shelly Kennington: 03:27:17 - 1146 of 1246 finishers & faster than 87 women.
I became one of them for 3 hours 27 minutes and 17 seconds. It was an amazing journey that started late May of this year. Why? Well, because I can. A lot of people who do not run for exercise do not really see the point in beating the pavement several times a month just to trek 13.1 miles in the Texas sun in late November....up until now, I was no exception.
If you recall, I signed up for a 5K run (about 3 miles) this past May because the sign I saw was staring at me..challenging me..it dang near threw itself at me and said.. "bet you won't do it"..I bet you won't put down your pride, lace up those pink Nike's and run a race..."besides you aren't a runner, you never have been the athletic type" Ahhhh the old conversation. I did what any competitive/independent spirit would do. I not only signed up for the 5K, I ran it and then I placed my bib on my refrigerator and proclaimed victory over the fear of whatever it was I was afraid of. Maybe it was failure, maybe it was my bobbly running style, maybe it was my jiggles, wiggles, no makeup wearing, bystanders staring, fear of N-O-T-H-I-N-G =) However, it took that 5K to make me realize that there are all types of "runners" out there and I .. I became one of them..
As quickly as I fastened the 5K bib onto the fridge that weekend, I decided that 3 miles was a challenge, but I wanted the best. My best. At that moment, it was the half marathon! Holy CRAP! Yes, I thought that exact thought to myself as I shoveled a McD's sausage biscuit in that morning and listened to my kids incessantly ask me why I got up at 5 a.m. to run 3 miles with a bunch of people I did not know. My answer? Because, I am a runner. Of course they thought that was way cool. And frankly, so did I.
It didn't take long and I was signed up for the Seawall Half Marathon in Galveston. I began placing a lot of focus on how I ran, started researching running tips, blogs, magazines. I even went to Academy and bought a pair of Nike running shorts..I mean, why wouldn't I, I was feeling pretty fantastic about my choice of sport and knew that it was only a matter of time before I would be crossing a finish line, collecting my medal, and making my second proclamation!
The summer months took me through my 3-4-5-10 mile journey as I diligently ran. I would find new routes to shake up my routine on occasion, however, I stayed pretty true to my loop and looked forward to my solitude. I began to really feel the effects of running. I began to see real tangible results. My appetite grew healthier, my skin became clearer, my pants were looser, my mind was free of stress, my breathing became easier. And, for the 1st time in 10 years..when I quit smoking, I never went back. Running was a relief, a resource, and joy for my busy "mom" life..and for me the first time I ever referred to myself as an "athlete." *I went and bought a cute pink t-shirt that said so too!* Yup..I did. =)
About a month and a half before the race I began tapering my runs and really didn't feel the need, or have the time to do a whole lot of anything but work...sleep, eat, school, work, work, work....I sort of began to panic that all of my progress was going straight down the drain and that on race day my legs would some how be stuck into the asphalt like a pair of lead weights. (I may or may not have dreamt that) and I may or may not have binged on starbursts and coffee..it was like I fell into a sugar coma..this did fade and even up to the day of..I thought if I oversleep..it is ok..because there are other races..
Then, SHELLY woke up and said, "THIS IS YOUR RACE. RUN IT. YOU ARE LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE AND YOU ARE COMMITTED." =) Even me, Shelly, "Its a Great Day To Be Alive" Kennington checks her conversation...
It's D Day. November 20th. Josh is at the Academy getting his OC spray cert. I am running 13.1 miles with 1300 other people. My dad flew in from Phoenix to watch me accomplish this major milestone. (big hugs to him)
Mile 1-3: Exciting and a surreal. I saw the mile markers fly by and on #2, I got a little choked up and a tear came down. I was doing this. I was running my half-marathon, and it was awesome.
Mile 2-6: Still pretty exciting, at this point, we were out on Seawall Blvd. It was hot. Major wardrobe mishap when I showed up with long sleeves. Combat thermal Nike jersey (super adorable) and capri running tights. Did I mention it was hot? Everyone was wearing short or no sleeves, several men were running with no shirts..Houston weather told me it was going to be 50 by the sea and I figured since I don't like being cold that I would dress to be warm. Mile 5, I was rolling up the sleeves. I now have a nice farmer tan in my lower arms.
Mile 6: Dad, Caleb, and Ella were at the refreshment stand and I stopped to kiss my kids and thank my dad for being there. When I stopped, my legs felt a little wobbly and I realized that stopping was not the best thing at that point..so I said bye and kept on.
Mile 7-9: Tough. I will say though, right about mile 7, I began picking up my "imaginary" running buddies. Each mile, someone new ran with me. When their song suggestion came through on my ipod, they were right there running with me, at my pace, encouraging me. Thank you to Kim, Tom, Mathis, Nicki, Sarah, Barb, Mom, Michelle, and Jennifer. I was inspired by your inspiring words. With Kim it was, "I am Free" This is a christian rock song and if you run and don't have the live version on your play list, get it! Firework is another one!
Miles 10-12: I ran/walked, ran/walked, stretched. Repeat. Water. Water. Water. I was feeling really dehydrated and at mile 12, I drank about 6 cups of water. My legs and feet were really getting a bit ticked off at me.
Miles 12-13: I do have to give a shout out to one of the runners. I do not know her name. I picked her up about mile 7 and asked her to finish with me. She agreed and we ran to the finish together. She encouraged me to the next stop light and stopped when I needed to stretch. I did the same for her. Thank you.
Finale: 13.1: I was trekking my way through Moody Gardens and their festival of lights arena, tears were beginning to stream down my face. My hips, legs, feet, toes, back, ears, (just joking), not my ears..but everything was screaming at me to stop! I saw it, that beautiful turquoise sign that said FINISH! Then, I saw my dad, my kids, Kerri (my sweet sister in law) and my nephew Cole! They were cheering and my angel runner friend was there too! I shot across the line, and the photographers began snapping pictures, everyone was greeting me with popsicles, muscle, milk, and water. The crowd was cheering and celebrating my success with me. I had achieved greatness at that moment I was a freaking superstar!
IT WAS AWESOME! I spent the next few minutes searching for my family again and realized that I was famished. I don't think I could go another minute without a bite of food..and the #1 thing I absolutely wanted for some reason was a chocolate frosty from Wendy's.
I found my family, I ate in the athletes tent, and we drove straight to Wendy's. That afternoon I slept and slept and slept...and slept some more.. I got up, we ordered pizza, I ate and went back to sleep! I am just as sore as I was the first 3 days in bootcamp.. however it was all worth it. All 13.1 miles of it!