“Nerves are a cousin to excitement and excitement is a cousin to gratitude. If you feel nervous, it’s a sign that a VERY BIG THING is unfolding. Be nervous for how good that thing can be.”~Alexi Pappas
Cliff Notes Version: Pinch me! I got to race IN REAL LIFE Sunday for the first time since November 2020! Nerves were high, but it is a good thing to be nervous! I was SO excited and grateful to be racing in person again that I didn’t even care about the ridiculously strong winds! I stayed true to myself and did what I said I was going to do…run the whole race and push my limits even when it became uncomfortable, which it definitely did. Oh, and that VERY BIG THING that unfolded…it was massive amounts of self discovery because I decided to show the f*%k up and #believe I could push myself farther than I thought possible! 💙💛
The race directors at the Des Moines St. Paddy’s 1/2 marathon put on a very safe race with the following Covid guidelines in place:
- each athlete had to fill out a survey online before racing to determine their exact start time, which was sent to each athlete via email
- any athlete with Covid symptoms was asked to stay home
- masks were required before and after the race
- athletes were not to arrive to the start line any earlier than 5 minutes before their designated start time
- athletes were spread 6 feet apart in the starting “corral”
- 1 athlete started every 5 seconds to spread athletes out for social distancing
- there was no medal distribution at the finish line (finisher medals were placed in a paper bag with an orange, cookie, and protein bar that athletes picked up off of a table)
- spectators were not allowed to congregate at the start/finish area
- I carried my own water for this race so I didn’t have to interact with volunteers at the aid stations, but there were small individually sealed water bottles and sports drink available for athletes to grab off of tables at the water stations. Volunteers were not handing them to athletes
- all volunteers were masked
- Bonus safety measure…Mother Nature provided us with 20+ mph winds so there was very little risk of Covid droplets hanging in the air from others
Longer Version: As I was preparing to start the race, my nerves were REALLY high but I knew those nerves were representatives of excitement and gratitude that I was going to GET to race IN PERSON! I was given the start time of 7:45 am, but I could hear an announcement being made that anyone could start the 1/2 marathon if they were ready (as they had spread people SO far out that they weren’t sending people off every 5 seconds as planned, but more like every minute instead). So I ate my banana, took off my sweats, and made my way to the starting corral where only 2 people were waiting to start. Within 10 seconds of me entering the starting corral, I was off.
I was fumbling a bit after crossing the starting mat as I had to remove my mask and put it away. I put it in a Ziploc bag that also housed my phone, which I put in one of my pockets on my Coeur Sports fitted running shorts.
It was a WINDY morning with temps near 40*F (and a windchill temp closer to freezing) at the start + partly sunny/cloudy…and those winds were 18-20 mph with gusts up to 45 mph from the south. I honestly didn’t even care that it was windy! I was just SO happy to be racing in person!
As I ran, my phone was giving me splits (that were often WAY off), which annoyed me, but I decided to completely ignore it and just go! I typically don’t run with my phone in this mode, but I didn’t want to try to mess with it while running + it was the tracking device that was being used so the Iron Hippie would know where I was. He and Jersey (our baby girl) were bouncing around the course cheering me on. I am so grateful for their love and support!
In previous 1/2 marathons I had only taken in 1 or 2 gels throughout the entire race and typically felt it wasn’t enough. I decided this time I was going to take in 3 gels throughout the race even if I didn’t feel I needed it in that moment…one every 3-4 miles. This would turn out to be a GREAT decision and one I need to be sure to implement in future races as well! This helped me achieve my goal, which was to run the entire race without one walking step and to continue to push myself even when things got uncomfortable. My mindset was strong! I stayed focused and determined.
Around mile 9 I started to really heat up. The sun had risen and I was warm. I should have given my LS jersey to the Iron Hippie at this point, but with the wind I didn’t know if I would still want it, so I decided to keep it on until I saw him next. This was the only thing I really regret about my race.
I ended up ditching my LS at about mile 11 when I saw the Iron Hippie next and was SO grateful for that strong wind and evaporative cooling! Knowing I was getting closer and closer to the finish line, I just kept pushing! Reminding myself to #believe I could do this and that I was here to show the f*%k up and give it all I had!
Shortly after seeing the Iron Hippie for the last time before the finish line, I saw our friend Alex (who also happens to be the event timer for this race). He gave me a high five, which was just the motivation I needed to push hard for that last mile! As I got closer to the Capitol building (where the finish line was), I got even more excited! I was doing this! I was pushing my limits! I was staying strong! I was having fun! I was showing the f*%k up! I was believing in myself! I was confident! I was having fun!
As I approached the finish line, the gratitude I had for being able to race in person was overwhelming…tears in my eyes, fatigue in my legs, happiness in my heart, fuel in my soul. All was right in the world…even if briefly. I had missed this! I had missed racing! I had missed these moments of self discovery…leaving it all out there and seeing what you are really capable of! While this wasn’t a PR race, it was everything I needed in this moment!
Finish time: 1:54:49 (8:44/mile average pace) AG: 5/18, Females: 33/132, Overall: 109/293
Gear: Coeur Sports fitted run shorts, Coeur Sports triathlon tank with shelf bra, Coeur Sports long sleeve jersey, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies, Orange Mud hand held water bottle, Boco Gear converter glove