I ran, and finished, my first half-marathon Sunday morning. I’ve never entered a big race and never run that far in my entire life. Just last year I could barely run 2 miles without stopping to walk. They say 2 hours and 6 minutes is a respectable time for 13.1 miles, and I was fairly happy with the time since my knee was recuperating from a recent injury.
No… I did not injure it from running. I injured it while dancing.
My 19-year old son, at a family party, said, “Hey, my dad knows how to do the running man, he’s from the 80’s. Show ‘em Dad!”
I busted a move alright and also, apparently, a tendon. It was pretty ironic that it was the “running man” that hurt my ability to run just 2 weeks before the race.
To prepare for this race, I had trained hard for 10 weeks, adding 1 mile each week until I hit 11 miles. I still wasn’t sure if I could do 13.1 miles on race day without my knee, or me, collapsing. But I was determined to finish the race whether I was running or hobbling at the finish line.
Right around mile six, I got inspiration from an unlikely source. I saw a little old lady (I’m guessing 70+ years of age) running ahead of me. She was about 5’ 4”, with dark sunglasses, spandex water belt, a color-coordinated pink running outfit and matching visor. Barely able to lift her legs much above the ground, leaning to her left side as if her spine could not support her, she was cranking right along at a 10-minute mile pace. She was consistent, determined and focused on her goal.
Suddenly my knee didn’t hurt that much anymore. I smiled, kicked up my tempo and passed her, but kept her image in my mind until the finish line.
I was satisfied to finish with dignity, but my runner’s cap goes off to the athletes who overcame much greater odds than I did (especially the little old lady from Pasadena.) I learned first hand that what gets you through a big challenge is not just planning and physical preparation. It also takes willpower. Go Granny, go.