My “half crazy” cousin, who ran the half marathon, has graciously agreed to be my first ever guest blogger! I’m excited about this for two reasons. First, she’s one very cool, fun lady that I’m always proud to introduce, show off and talk about. Second, she provides a real participant’s point of view of the Phoenix Half Marathon.
(click here to get my spectator’s viewpoint as well as a nice intro to her in my companion post.)
Now, I turn you over to my cousin, Kettie Olsen. Enjoy!
My First Half Marathon
“You only get one first time. I’d been training for this a long time, starting with a five-minute run back in April of 2012. It was my first run since losing the boot I’d been wearing to heal from a stress fracture. It was hard and not fun. But as I built my endurance and strength back up, I had come to really enjoy the running and the discipline of daily training. I was almost sorry to see the race actually come because then it would never be my first one again.
I arrived in Phoenix late Friday night, more tired than excited. I was in bed at 11:30 and up at 3:30 to get ready to catch the bus to the starting line. I already had my race shirt. The thought of sleeping in, skipping the race, and just spending the day playing with my cousin had its appeal.
It was cold and dark at the start line as I ate my pbj, drank some water, listened to the chatter of those around me, and waited for the time to pass. I wasn’t nervous and I wasn’t as excited as I wanted to be. It just kind of felt like another training run. With a lot of extra people.
That feeling persisted for the first few miles. Just another run, keeping it relaxed and easy, still got a long ways to go. It wasn’t until about mile six that I really started having fun. Everything had been fine up to that point – I’d been watching the other runners, creating mini lives for them in my head, waving at the spectators, thanking the volunteers, but at mile six I really started to enjoy myself and ran with a smile on my face.
What made the difference? Could have been the endorphins finally kicking in, the thought of being almost halfway done, or the sugar high from the chocolate Clif shot I ingested but I think what did it was the tunes. I don’t normally run with a soundtrack but I’d created a playlist of favorites for this race knowing there might come a point when I’d need some distraction. As Amy Grant started singing about Simple Things, I felt the grin start to spread across my face and as Basia sang about hugging olive trees in the south of France I thought, “Oh, I love this song!” Although it would appear that I had cut myself off from what was going on by inserting my ear buds, it actually intensified my desire to interact with the world around me. Because I was happier, I wanted to see others happier too. If I saw a little kid on the sidewalk close enough to receive a high five, I made sure I was there to give it. If someone cheered for me, I cheered for them and thanked them. If I passed someone who looked like they could use a kind word, I gave them one. I felt good and I was having fun.
Mile nine – downtown Mesa. The Olympic Fanfare and Theme plays in my earbuds. Man, I love this song too! Someone did a good job of putting together this playlist! Ten year old boy wearing white knee highs with a pastel heart pattern. Got to be a story behind that. “Awesome socks!” as I pass. That got a grin.
Mile eleven – my cousin is there again with my sign. She’s great! Mile eleven… Wait. That means I only have two miles left? If I kick it in I can be done in less than 20 minutes. Let’s go! I’m not a speed demon by any means but apparently I had more left in the tank than most of those around me and I started passing people more rapidly. I know I’m running close to an 11 minute mile pace for the race and that was my unofficial goal time. If I can nail this last bit, I can pull it off. Keep the pace, dodge the 10K walkers, stay out of the way of the two marathon runners who have just caught up with us. Really? So they’re running twice as fast as me? Wow. I think in the last 200 yards I passed 15 people as I sprinted for the finish line.
And just like that, it was done! Volunteers were at the line handing out medals. I almost asked for a kiss with mine. Haha. Took a cool wash cloth from another volunteer and wiped the sweat from my eyes, face, ears, and neck. Got a picture taken with my medal, found some water, some food, and my cousin/friend/personal cheering section/chauffeur and headed off to enjoy the rest of the day.
It was a fun run, a fun day, a great time. Every race won’t be like that. Some will be hard, some will hurt, some will have lousy weather. Stuff happens. Sometimes you just don’t feel good or run well for whatever reason. But my one and only first ever half marathon was a great time!”