I completed the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon on Saturday, November 2 in a slow and determined 3:01.36.
I have written a little about training, and some of the insights the last few months have brought as I have prepared for the race. This was my 5th half marathon. (I did one full marathon many moons ago.) This was the 5th time I stepped up to the line, heard the gun, and (eventually) took off. This was the 5th time I felt the 5K, 10K, 10 mile progression of thought from excitement and noise, to quiet and resolve. This was the 5th time my body and mind finished the task at hand.
Though this was my 5th half, this one felt different for several reasons.
- I am 42 years old.
Three hours is a long time. Time to think. Along the way, I thought about participating in the marathon when I was 30. I thought about how my body felt as I ran my first mile on December 18, 2000. I thought about how I could never, ever, ever have imagined running prior to preparing for the marathon. (I was late to the running thing.) It struck me that it has been 12 years since my marathon. It feels like yesterday and an Age ago. I remember not being sure if I would ever want to run again after the marathon. Despite remembering that unique marathon pain, my body felt great as I ran on Saturday.
I noticed the ages of the people around me more than usual during the race. Young and old alike were running beside me. Around mile 12, there was one woman with beautiful gray hair and a strength that spoke of many years. We were keeping a similar pace and her eyes were fixed firmly on the direction we were running. When I thought about being tired, I looked over at her and drew inspiration. Her breath was calm, and her stride was even. Her spine was straight. Her gentle fists gracefully propelled her forward. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to ease into the finish. My mind went to the time many years from now when I would be running, even floating, toward the finish of my 20th half marathon.
- Indianapolis is an important place to me.
I have known for a long time Indianapolis is important to me. I lived there from 1994-1998. It is my first post-college-grown-up city. I was a drama teacher there. I joined my first church as an adult there. I served in the AmeriCorps there. I had my first solo apartment there. I made, and still have, many dear friends there. I knew it would be fun to run around the streets I used to roam, but it wasn’t until I was actually running that I felt particularly nostalgic. Time has been friendly to Indianapolis. I thought about former students. I thought about former bosses. I thought about long time friends. Though many parts of the city have changed, it is still a familiar place. Running down Meridian Street toward the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument felt comfortable, even though it was Mile 12. I have participated in destination races before, and they have had a different appeal. I have felt like an explorer in those contexts. I did not need to discover Indy. The race felt like connecting with an old friend.
- I felt profound gratitude as I crossed the Finish Line
I always feel relief when I finish a race. I always say about a million times how glad I am that it is over. This finish felt different. I was truly grateful to have the health to participate. I was grateful for my Indianapolis memories. I was grateful for every practice run. I was grateful for every rose bush I smelled along the way. I was grateful for my yoga practice. I was grateful for every Forward Fold that opened my lower back. I was grateful for every Warrior pose that affirmed my strength and balance. I was grateful for every Savasana that taught me the beauty of the end of practice. I was grateful that my boyfriend was there with open arms. He helped me find my way through my foggy, post-race stupor. He knew exactly what to do. I thank him from that safe place in my heart.
I now need to set my next race goal. As I have written before, I definitely need to have a goal toward which I am training, or I have the motivation level of a banana slug. Simply put, I will target another half marathon. I will continue to run. I will continue to practice yoga. I will continue to carry with me the lessons of each race.