I started running in July of 2010 and ran my very first race, a 5K, 4 months later with my trainer and friend, Ron Hetzel, by my side. It is hard to believe that race was over a year ago now, and that I finished my very first half marathon this past Sunday. I am so proud of myself...I remember when I thought 2 miles was impressive and when I finished my first 5K I was unable to imagine going further. Then came my first 5 miler, a turkey trot, where I actually ran continuously without stopping and thought it couldn't possibly get better than that...next was my first 10K, and you know what, I survived that too. So, I thought..."Hey, you know what...maybe I CAN do a half marathon!"
I decided to sign up for the Philadelphia Half, after all it was about 6 months away which meant I had plenty of time to prepare both mentally and physically. I chose to do it for a purpose: to raise money to stop MS, since my mother has the disease. I joined the Karma Striders team and got to work, both on my fundraising event and on the training itself.
Through joining the team, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with two wonderful and admirable people; Paul Goldstone and Meg DiPanni. The fundraiser was a huge success, I received so much support from family, friends, even strangers. Between the event and my donations, over $2250.00 was raised for the National MS Society, more than $700 beyond my original goal.
Organizing my first fundraising event didn't come easily and neither did my training, as some pretty major obstacles were put in my path along the way. After a car accident and an MRI of my cervical spine, I was told in June that I may have MS myself. Even though I was (and continue to be) non-symptomatic mostly, the possibility of this disease and its potential effects on my body really got into my head. There were days when I couldn't run over a mile, my legs felt funny, or the heat was bothering me...was it the MS, or was this all in my mind??? Today I still don't know for sure. In September, I received the official life altering diagnosis and started my daily injection treatment soon after.
Luckily for me, I have a great support system. My boyfriend understood that my training was important to me and that it would sometimes mean spending less time at home for a while as my runs became more intense. My parents weren't completely into the idea of me running at all, especially once they heard of my diagnosis, but eventually came around when they realized how much it was helping me. And Ron really knew when and how to push me to my limits and how to motivate me. He even ran my longest training run of 12 miles with me 2 weeks before the race. I felt confident that as long as he would be running with me I would get through the half.
The week of the marathon, poor Ron came down with a bad case of the flu and was unable to leave his house, let alone run a race. So all of a sudden I was left to do this alone. My dad volunteered to accompany me to the race and would be there to cheer me on, but there would be no one there to guide my way for me...I would have to do it myself. I questioned whether or not I could do it.
Race morning was nerve racking, to say the least. Running with 25,000 people...what?! But once I got there, I ate (what I could stomach with my nerves) stretched (in the WRONG PLACE, ended up with a little poison ivy!!!) and before I knew it, mile one was behind me. I planned on taking a minute long walk break every 20 minutes, but with the cheering crowd I couldn't do it. I didn't want to. I didn't need to! I did take a few walk breaks but not nearly as many as I thought I would need. They were cheering for us, for me, people who didn't even know me were reading my name off my bib and showing their support...it was really amazing. Its true what they say about the race day energy. It is indescribable.
As I passed mile marker 10, I realized that my pace was slightly faster than I had hoped for...I was only 3 miles away and I was going to finish within my 2 and a half hour goal! I sprinted through that finish line and my official chip time was 2:22:51...it was incredible, what a rush. I will never forget that feeling. What an experience this was...I raised money for a worthy charity, gained new friends and a faith in myself I never knew was possible.
So now I wonder, what next? Maybe another half...maybe, do I dare say it, A FULL MARATHON??? I'm not sure yet, we'll see. But for now I will "bask in the glow" of my accomplishment. Thank you to everyone who supported me the whole way.