If you told me a year ago that I would have run a half-marathon I would’ve probably done a spit take.
It feels like a dream, a vivid one. First off, waking up at 5 a.m. for this rock star is unfathomable. Yet I did it willingly. I was eager to meet this challenge. After all, I prepared for this since January 1st.
I met AM, JH and SS at the Inman Park MARTA station. We were at 5 Points in 10 minutes. A constant flow of people came out of the station to the street.
It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky. There was an incredible energy in the air, like a huge adrenaline bomb waiting to explode.
This was an international event. A woman from Ireland bumped into me and said sorry as I waited anxiously at the start line.
The MC introduced the race director and the husband to whom the race was dedicated. He lost his wife to cancer. After that a pastor, who was a runner, led a prayer. His prayer touched me. He prayed that each runner would encounter Christ during the race. He also prayed that at that point when we needed to dig deep, we’d call out to God for strength. Let me tell you I did this no less than 17 times.
Right at 7 a.m. the race started. It took a while for the thousands of runners to begin moving. Eventually I hit the mats which recorded my time with the special chip in my shoelaces.
I was passing many people looking for my pace. I finally found it at about mile 2. That was about the time I saw a gospel choir on the right singing for us! It was thrilling. They were wearing purple robes hitting tambourines and singing for us runners.
One of the most indelible things about this race was the amount of support from the city. At every single step of this race people were cheering for us saying “Go runners!,” holding signs and ringing cowbells. Some even had water bottles and oranges for us.
All things were rocking for me until I hit Freedom Parkway. That was the 10k spot and I was at 49 minutes at that point, doing well. However it wasn’t long after that I started fading fast.
As I got to Ponce to run through Virginia Highlands I began to struggle and slow down. I turned off the music too. It was messing with me head.
Honestly it was hill after hill. The flats were so short that I couldn’t quite catch my breath. I would turn the corner and it would just be another hill. It was brutal.
I think it was in Piedmont Park that did my first minute walk. I’d hoped to run the whole way but it wasn’t going to happen. I started praying fervently at this point. I just wanted to finish.
As I hit midtown I knew the end was getting closer. 10th Street was yet another hill before I turned to the home stretch and last brutal hill which was South on Peachtree Street. All I had to do was keep going.
Peachtree had the most supporters. People were everywhere. Quite honestly I blocked it all out. The only thing in my mind was crossing the finish line. Here I began walking more. I think I walked 3 more 1 minute breaks. People were passing me left and right but I didn’t care anymore.
Soon enough I saw the finish line. I knew then I’d run the rest of the way, finishing strong was the only option. I kept my head up and just ran.
I did it! The clock said 1:56 but my official chip time was 1:54:19, 8:43/mile pace. I was so glad it was over. If I make it sound hard that’s because it was. This was serious.
I didn’t know where to walk. I could barely walk as it was. I saw the medals and got mine. Right behind them were huge stacks of water. I grabbed one and inhaled it. I turned around and got another bottle. Just beyond the water was a huge, long table filled with gogurt, muffins, bananas and apples. I grabbed a gogurt and banana.
I was in a daze. I wanted to get back to MARTA so I could get home. As I walked I ran into an old college friend who was in town from Chicago for the race. She finished in 1:50 I think. We talked about the race and how hard it was.
I got to my car and sat down. I thanked God for allowing me to do this and for His help. It was an emotional moment. Truly there was NO WAY I could’ve done this without Christ. Sure I put in the training. The conditions were rough out there! It was hot and again the hills, so many. There is no doubt God carried me though this.
I’m so grateful to have been part of this first race. The city was closed off and shut down just for us runners. Police were at every street and many of them were cheering for us! My friend from New York, who ran the half, said she realized how much she enjoyed Atlanta during the race. The city looked beautiful. The route showed off our best neighborhoods. I think this race will be known for its difficulty.
All of the volunteers and staff did an excellent job. For us running the half I don’t think it could’ve gone any better. This was not the case for the marathoners. A few water stations were missing for a 6 mile stretch.
I’ve been asked will I run another. At this point I don’t know. There is an amazing sense of accomplishment that I can’t deny treasuring. I have concerns about the effects of running on the body, how it effects the knees, joints, back and overall health. I know there is a downside.
For now I don’t have to think about all that. For now I deal with the soreness in my legs. For now I take pride in accomplishing something which tested my limits physically and mentally.
Special thanks go out to Jeherv and Thatgirlsab for encouraging me to run this. I would never have done this if they hadn’t encouraged me. 6 years ago