It still feels surreal to type these words, but I finished my first half marathon.
8 months ago, I was laying in my parents guest bedroom in San Antonio. I don’t remember what initially sparked the idea, but I do remember researching for hours about running a race. The thought took hold of me, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this could be the start of something big in my life.
I went back and forth thinking to myself, “I’ve always hated running, but should I try this anyway? How far should I run? Do I have enough time to train before January?” I reached out to a few runners that I know and told them what I was considering. They all agreed that it was possible, but also told me that maybe I should make my goal a 10k. Training is a big commitment and “you really have to love running”. Despite having many reasons to set a more realistic goal, my heart was set on running the half marathon at Disney in January.
I have battled Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for four years now, and I wanted to do this to prove to myself that it is possible. This was a tangible way that I could prove once and for all that I will not let my illness dictate how I live my life and what I am capable of.
I was relieved to find that I DO love running. It has captured my heart and become a huge part of my life this year. Around October, I decided that I wanted to run a race on Thanksgiving. I had two options: the 5k or a half marathon. I debated with myself for a few days and then decided to take a risk. I would try to run a half marathon a month and a half ahead of schedule.
The Night Before
The night before the race I was a ball of anxiety. I kept going over everything I needed in my head. My alarm was set for 4:45am because I needed to arrive at parking by 6:00am. I tried to get to sleep early and was able to be asleep by 9pm. Unfortunately I woke up at 12:30am,which didn’t surprise me, but I was able to fall back asleep after 20 minutes or so.
It may have been early, but I was wide awake. This was the day I had been waiting for since I first had my crazy idea in that guest bedroom. Everything went smoothly as I got ready, and I was feeling a sense of peace. I knew that I would finish.
That is…until we got there. I knew that it was going to be cold. I had planned for it and felt somewhat prepared. What I wasn’t prepared for was the strong winds! Each gust of wind felt like a slap in the face and my body couldn’t stop shivering. I looked on my app, and the realfeel was 38 degrees.
My mind began to spiral as I thought over and over, “I am not going to finish. There is no way.” I was thankful that I hadn’t told many people that I had signed up for this race, because I knew how embarrassed I would feel if I failed. Tim picked up on my mood immediately and began to tell me that it is all about mindset. I needed to believe that I would finish and stop those negative thoughts before the race began. To appease him, I said, “I will finish”, but I didn’t believe it.
I was placed in the last corral and I actually really enjoyed all the free space that I had in the back of the pack. I hoped that once I started running that the cold wouldn’t feel so harsh. I got my wish because within the first half mile I was realized that it really wasn’t so bad! The weather became an after thought as I focused on passing each mile marker.
Miles 1-8 came to me easily. Tim was texting me encouraging messages the entire race, and my family had started a group text to cheer me on. Jocelyn and Isaiah sent me the sweetest video telling me how much they loved and believed in me. Each text and kind word pushed me further and further. The hills were definitely the hardest part of the race. There were so many of them and they seemed to go on forever, but I never felt like I couldn’t keep going.
Mile 8 was where I hit my one and only snag. Out of no where I felt a sharp pain in my lower shin. Through all of my training I had never experienced a shin splint, and this was worse than I could have ever imagined. It is not the kind of annoying pain that you feel you can run through. I immediately felt like I had injured myself and was afraid I would be forced to stop, despite feeling otherwise great physically. I slowed down my pace and ran very carefully for a mile, and I was lucky that the pain eventually disappeared.
Those last few miles I became increasingly emotional. Thankfulness came over me and I struggled to fight back tears. “I am going to finish” was on repeat in my mind and the joy I felt was all consuming.
Towards the end of the race we ran past the Georgia State Capitol. Seeing that building brought back so many memories of when I was an extra in the movie Godzilla. We shot in that building for 14 hours and it was one of my favorite things I got to work on. We also ran past where we shot Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Tears filled my eyes as I thought about why I had started doing extra work in the first place. When we first moved here I was so sick that I could not hold down a “normal” job. Background work gave my schedule flexibility and a lot of my days were spent sitting in holding. My illness consumed my life during those first couple of years, and now here I was. Running past those same streets, about to finish a half marathon.
The finish line was located inside Turner Field. This was another moment of gratitude because Timothy and I first came to Turner Field when we were engaged.
We were road tripping to San Antonio and decided to stop for a baseball game. I was at the very start of my illness and now I was back. I was about to cross the finish line.
I stepped through the arch and felt gratitude wash over me. I did it. I finished something that once seemed like an outlandish dream. I quickly found Timothy in the stands and he applauded me as I walked over to him. I fell into his arms and began to sob. I cried for the girl who was bedridden and thought that this was her forever. I cried for the girl who was terrified that she would never be able to have kids because pain ruled her life. I cried as I realized that heartbroken girl had been wrong. There was hope. So much hope to come in the future. I cried and cried as I thanked God that he had never left my side.
Thanksgiving 2019 was one of the best days of my life. This is only the beginning.
With gratitude and love,