I ran a half marathon yesterday. Actually, that’s a completely inaccurate and misleading statement. I finished. The means of propulsion were varied and ugly but entirely of my own power. That’s me about 100 feet from the end, which explains the look of bliss on my face.
It was so much harder than I expected. I had trained to run 13 miles and I was fully aware that they would not be smooth or flat miles. I was mentally prepared for a lot of trail running with a few truly brutal sections. In fairness, this was the race description:
13.1 miles with 2,500 feet of climbing. The Bellingham Half Marathon is really special: it is a point-to-point exploration of Bellingham’s Chuckanut Mountain and Lake Padden. It begins by running up Fragrance Lake Trail to the notorious Chinscraper (no joke) and along the super technical and scenic Ridge Trail with views of the Cascades, city of Bellingham, and Bellingham Bay. From the ridge, you’ll descend on some sweet single track to the Interurban Trail, hit up a little road on your way to Lake Padden, and finish with fast trails around Lake Padden to a catered post race meal and race festivities!
The “notorious Chinscraper” was more or less what I expected but I managed to overlook the “super technical” Ridge Trail, which I learned in real time meant that it was several miles of steep, rooted, rocky, narrow (did I mention steep) trail of the sort that required a rope to aid you in at least one sheer rock descent.
I went flying and landed on all fours twice during the “sweet single track” section. It took me nearly two hours to get from the first to the second aid station and by the time I got there, I was sure that I had read/remembered the aid station locations wrong. It seemed impossible that I had covered only 8 miles of trail in two and a half hours. But the volunteers confirmed I was indeed 8 miles in and then I started running away and both of my calves started to charley on the first incline. I nearly dissolved into tears.
All of which is a long way to say exactly what I started with: It was hard.
But there’s something about doing a hard thing that makes you able to do more hard things, even when you feel like that’s impossible. And even though right now just sitting feels like a hard thing, I’m happy that I did it.
And really, isn’t that how a whole lot of life goes? You plan and prepare and tell yourself you know how it will be and then you get into the guts and it’s totally different and more terrifying and not at all what you thought. But somehow the preparation that you did and a million things that you thought were completely unrelated come together and you figure it out in real time and you do it. And running a race isn’t the kind of hard thing that really matters at all but somehow I think it’s good to keep in practice for the really hard things in life that do matter.
So there you go. It was ugly and muddy and bloody, but I finished a half marathon yesterday. It was hard.