On my Own Two Feet

I ran the Winnipeg Police Half-Marathon yesterday.  I’d been training for months and then worrying all last week.

Last fall I ran the Budapest Half-Marathon.  It was a big deal.  I’ve been running for a few years now, and yet I am astonished that I am a runner, since I never thought of myself as an athlete the whole time I was growing up and since I’ve never pursued races of any length with much determination, preferring to focus on the day-to-day runs rather than the big events.  So the realization that I was ready to try a long distance like the half-marathon was an exhilarating yet intimidating one. Crossing that finish line was a wonderful feeling and gave me a real confidence in my running.

This one, though, was different in a couple of key ways that kept me from being totally relaxed last week.  I ran in Budapest to finish, to run in an amazing setting, to show myself that I could.  I also ran it under difficult conditions: it was a hot, hot day after a cold summer of training, and we’d been touristing on foot for two weeks beforehand.  I was exceedingly happy to finish it in  2:09:06.

This year, I wanted to see if I could make 2:00.  Every race is a race, clearly, but not every runner is running it as a race.The WPS Half Marathon was a race for me, not an event.  I trained hard, following an ambitious plan that asked so much of me and yet filled me with pride every time I finished one of the hard runs.

In addition to being the first race I’d really ever run, I’d also hardly done any training on my own.  Until now, I was on the treadmill (which sets my pace and keeps me there) or running outside with Rainer – my personal pace-bunny and motivational system.  I love to run with him.  He’s the reason I’m a runner.  Running alongside him makes me feel both relaxed by his company and inspired by his presence.  I want to work hard so he’ll be proud of me.  When I realized that not only was he not going to be by my side during the race but that I had no experience running alone and setting my pace for more than an hour, I made sure to do a 12 mile run on my own a few weeks back.

But still.  Races are different than runs.  The excitement.  The people running faster than you.  The footfalls of others obscuring the rhythm of your own feet.  So I was nervous.  I wanted to improve my time and I was doing it without my one-man miracle support system.

I did a horrid job of pacing myself the first 3 miles.  Too slow, too fast, way too slow.  That left me with time to make up on the rest of the course if I was going to do it. So sped up and tried to chase that goal.

WPS HAlf Marathon

In that top picture, I’m nearly at mile 13, shouting to my sister, “I am going to make it!” I was tired at that point, so tired of pushing the pace. But I could see on the watch that nothing but an injury was going to keep me from getting into the park, over that bridge, and to the finish line in less than 2 hours. Yes, less than two hours. 1:57:08 to be precise. 12 minutes off my previous time. 15th out of the 89 women in my age category.

I still laugh when I realize I’m a runner; the self has a hard time reconciling that with my mental labels. But it’s beginning to sink in.

Running has given me so much.  Patience with the children.  Energy.  Strength of body.  So much strength of mind. Practice in taking big goals and breaking them down into managable steps.  Confidence.  Adventure.  Accomplishment.


18 thoughts on “On my Own Two Feet

  1. Sarah says:

    I am proud of you!
    I was surprised how far back you were after the turn around between mile 3 and 4.
    As to your pacing, mile marker 2 was early, so it seemed like you were running way to fast and, consequently, way to slow at mile 3.
    Same happened to me and I could have reassured you if we had run together. What is great, though is that you still did it! You pushed really hard and kept the pace fora long time. That is the real sign not of a runner, but an athlete!
    It has been great running beside you and seeing you enjoy it so much. It has been great sharing this passion with you (now if I can only get you to swim and cycle, or even to read some Canadian literature!).

    I am proud of you! You did it on your own, with very little help from me or anyone else.
    See you at the next training session.

    your one-man miracle support system

  2. Sarah says:

    PS – perhaps I should have logged out of your account and into mine!

    Runner yes, savvy internet guy, not so much

  3. Schwester K says:

    I wouldn’t’ve known you were tired at that 13 mile point if you wouldn’t’ve told me. You looked strong and confident, and like you’d been doing this for ages.

    It was so exciting to see you do this. Yay for you! (And obviously ya for Rainer, too. 😉 )

  4. Patte says:

    Thank you for sharing your success and all you (and family) gain from it. I read your blog daily for the colorspiration or the wordspiration.
    You are so right that a physical accomplishment adds another component to who we are as women/mothers/humans. I am still playing soccer (over 40s team) and I love how my kids wish me luck, ask how it went, offer solace when I lose. They see me as a physical person. Realizing how important that component is to being a mom for me was key this past year.
    Patte in RI

  5. JoVE says:

    Congratulations. I still don’t get the running thing. but I can see how important it is for you and that finishing time looks impressive. 15 out of 89 only the second time you run a half-marathon is not shabby at all.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I’m truly amazed and in awe of your persistence!! Way to go–you most certainly are an athlete! Congratulations on your new personal best score! (See–only real athletes have ‘official’ personal bests)

  7. Charity says:

    Congratulations, Sarah! It’s so inspiring and encouraging for me to read about your experience, as I’m new to running, and like you, I’ve always thought of myself as unathletic. Keep it up! 🙂

  8. Marce says:


    I got so weepy right around the part where you wrote your time, I had to laugh out loud at myself…then reading hubby’s comment??? Completely undone…:-D

    Excellent, excellent!!

  9. Sarah says:

    Absolutely fantastic. I am thrilled for you. I would not have thought you were tired in the first picture if you hadn’t mentioned it.


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