The day before Easter I ran the Bluegrass half marathon in Lexington. It winds through the horse farms surrounding the Keenland area. Let me just start by saying, this was by far the most beautiful 13.1 miles I've ever run. The grass here isn't quite as green as it will be (yet), and the trees haven't filled in... but none of that mattered. We live in such a beautiful place. I felt so lucky to experience Lexington in this way and found myself wishing I could run this path all the time...... even though it was also the most challenging 13.1 miles. The hills were killer!
Here's the start.
So happy that Hottie has a knack (& likes to) track me throughout these races so that there is photographic evidence of me kicking @$$... er, I mean, running.
I eased into a pace of around 10:30 early on, which is actually a bit fast for me. (did I mention I'm a slow and steady kind of runner? Slooooow and steady.) I was feeling strong and confident but really didn't know what to expect from this race and the elevation changes were intimidating.
Notice how in the start photo everyone is all smiley and happy and then these around mile 3 they are all business.... I'm the only one smiling like a loon. I just have so much fun with these races.
I thought this dude with the peeps box around mile 4 was joking and when I said that to Hottie later he was like, "uh, there were really peeps in there. and runners really grabbed some." There is the photo proof! Peeps! Cracks me up. I love marathon spectators. I should do another post just based on the signs people hold up. I love a good laugh, especially around the time my energy fades.
Oh look, another HILL! There I am in the middle..... pretty much killing it. (haha)
I ran up every hill for the first half of the mileage. Then the hills got bigger and more frequent and I began to pick a point to run to halfway up and walked the rest. There I am in the middle again..... doing my best. Around mile 7 I was still feeling really good but I also felt like I hadn't trained for all of these hills (did I mention how many hills there were?! **** so many hills!) so I figured I would have to kiss my 10:30 pace goodbye and just be happy with finishing. That I wasn't here to PR (personal record) and I pushed on.
This is me around mile 7 or so. I pause briefly to kiss Hottie goodbye and tell him I'll see him at the finish..... whenever that might be. Then the hills were one right after the other. UP. down. UP. down. UP. down. These hills were killing
me! (and everyone else. notice the photo... everyone walking) UGH
! I hate
running hills and before moving here would avoid them like the plague.
Around mile 8 I hit a wall. I honestly felt like I might have to walk the majority of the rest of the way and just take in the scenery. Then at the top of the hill everything changed. I saw these two beauties and was immediately inspired.
The horses were running side by side in big wide circles in their pasture. They were magnificent. Really, the photo does not do them justice. For some reason that gave me the little nudge I needed to keep running, keep pushing myself, to not just settle for a finish.
There is a point in every race that I feel this way, something pushes me forward when I need it most. For my first Disney race it was when I ran through Anaheim Stadium and heard my name announced. LA full marathon was hitting that 18 mile mark in the pouring rain and seeing my tiny little nieces all bundled up eating snacks (which I desperately wanted to steal) holding a sign that said, "WINNING, duh." I will never forget these moments in life, they are my most inspired. They remind me I can do anything. They are what I run for, what I live for, really.
So there I went, the smile quickly returning to my face. I turned my music up and reminded myself how lucky I am to have this life. This opportunity. A body that can carry me through. I ran for the next 5 miles without stopping. Here is the finish line....
My time was 2:30:00. A new personal record.
I could not be more proud to have this medal join my others and can't help but dream of the others to come.... hills or not, bring it on.