I haven’t run a half marathon in 6 1/2 years. My last race was the Nike Women’s Half in DC, and I did it because I wanted the Tiffany necklace reward at the end served up on silver platters by firefighters in tuxedos. It was my personal best, but then I decided to focus on the full marathon where I didn’t have to run as fast, because I hate working so hard. 🙂

This morning, I ran the Princeton Half as part of my training schedule for the Philly Marathon later this month. It wasn’t intended to be a race for my best pace, so I felt more relaxed going in.

I lined up with some perky pacers for 2 minutes + under my target finish time, and figured as long as I didn’t pass them I was good.

The hills. OMG.

It’s all relative, the challenges of running, but this course was particularly hard for me, with more elevation than I’m used to in the countryside.

I forget exactly when, but we couldn’t have been more than halfway when the hill won, and I had to drop back and walk. I was so disappointed. I’ve worked so hard to come back to running. I watched the orange singlets fade into the distance and I started the negative self talk. I felt embarrassed walking past the crowds of cheering spectators – like I had let them down on that stupid hill.

But I walked with purpose and intention and made it up the hill with restored energy. I flew down the other side and eventually caught sight of my pacers. I pulled up in formation behind them and told them they weren’t going to lose me today. Not today.

They cheered and encouraged me up and down a few more hills, until once again I had to take it to a walk and fell pathetically behind, losing sight of them completely.

I decided I still had a shot at coming in within a reasonable time compared to my original target, so I hunkered down to run “my” race.

I don’t know how many times I walked up hills, but they definitely got worse as the miles dragged on.

In between, I took advantage of gravity and made up time without even realizing it.

Then…

Orange singlets. I couldn’t believe it – I caught up to them again. Again I told them I refused to be left behind. They let me go ahead of them, but I could hear them behind me, talking to me the way I should have been talking to myself.

I came in a couple of minutes early, but I am very pleased with this one.

So now, the taper. Philadelphia, I’m coming. No matter what happens on race day, this journey has been a beautiful reminder that the Universe can exceed my expectations if I just trust and keep going.

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