#Determined to push to new levels

Disclaimer: I received a registration for the Bellin Women’s half marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

When strong determined women get together, amazing things happen.  This was truly the case last weekend with the 4th annual Bellin Women’s half marathon.  Between the camaraderie and fun at the expo and inspirational dinner on Friday night, to everyone motivating and encouraging each other on the course, it was  a weekend that will soon NOT be forgotten.

After the Bellin Women’s Half Marathon last weekend, I was anxious to see the race photos.  Not just because they were free (I usually don’t buy many race photos because they are just too expensive) but because I was (and still am) processing the events of the morning.

I stalked the website daily… ok several times a day… waiting for photo’s to be posted.  Finally last night about 9pm, I found out that some of the pics were out there!  Instead of going to bed and getting some sleep before my run this this morning, I was pulling up photo’s of myself as well as many of my friends that ran.

Then I came across one my photos from the finish line

It always amazing me when a photographer can get one shot that can encapsulate so much raw emotion in that single moment.  Joy, pain, relief, celebration, disbelief…  It’s all there.

For the full story and meaning behind the picture, we need to back up a bit.

The week leading up to this race, I was more anxious that I have been for a race in a long time.  I had a goal.  A big goal.  Not only was a running for a PR, it was a PR time that I have not even been close to hitting for years.  To prepare myself for this race, I went all out.  I hired a coach, followed the plan and called upon my friends to get me through countless training runs.  Everyone knew I was going for this lofty goal.

What if I couldn’t do it?  What if I failed.  Everyone knew what I wanted to do.  What if I didn’t train hard enough?  Did I get in enough tempo runs?  What about me speed work? I’ve never run THAT many miles at THAT pace ever (the furthest at y target race pace was 4 miles… I had 7 on race day!)  Then I realized I had to get out of me own head!  I was becoming my own worst enemy.  Thankfully the amazing women in the GB Mom’s Run This Town group helped me to get into the right mindset.  I headed to the start line with confidence… that is, after 3 trips to the bathroom, countless deep breaths and triple checking to make sure I had the fuel I needed.  Before I knew it, it was time to get ready to run.  I found Barb at the start so we could get the official BibRavePro pre race pic and then we were off.

One of the things that I quickly realized that I loved about the race plan Nate put together for me is that I had a specific goal for each mile.  Instead of looking at how long I has been running, or what my over all pace was, I was focused on each mile as it came.   I had a goal for each mile and that was all I needed to focus on. I was truly running the mile I was in.

I spent the first 3 miles getting my legs moving and falling into a comfortable pace.  I enjoyed these early miles with several of the MRTT girls that I trained with, as well as a few of them that I had never actually met before, including Patti, who was running the half marathon for her birthday!

Once I got past those early miles, it was time to pick up the pace.   I pushed all doubt aside and did what I needed to.  Over the net few miles, I would see several friends as they were running their own race.  I kept pushing on, keeping to my plan.

One of my favorite things about this race is the community support.  There were so many places along the course that were packed with spectators.  There were several friends that I saw multiple times as they were moving down the course to cheer on runners!  Every time I saw Shaun or Becky, it gave me that extra boost to keep going.  I was feeling strong and I was having fun.

Just as I was getting to the other side of the bridge in DePere (just past the 7 mile marker), Jessica caught up to me again.  After laughing at the fact that we had leap frogged each other a few times due to each others bathroom stops, we fell into step and ran the next few miles together.  We realized that we were both on course to hit our goals and that gave us the motivation to keep pushing along!  Just past mile 8, our friend Karrie was hanging out taking pictures and she managed to capture a photo that can really sum up so much of our day!  We were pushing ourselves, we were staying strong, but we were also having fun!  My 3 goals for life!

As I was approaching mile 10, I could feel myself slowing down.  I had been digging deep and it was slowly catching up to me.  I was starting to question what I was going to have left after this mile. My target pace for the last 3 miles was “whatever I had left”.  I knew at this point that I was ahead of my goal pace and I had some wiggle room.  I could slow down a little for the last 3 miles and still reach my ultimate goal.  Then a few feet down the trail was the next aid station.  It was just what I needed.  No, not the water, not the gatorade… there was Nate.  He was the first person I saw as I approached the water station.  I quick high five and a few encouraging words from him and I was back out of my head!  It was like he knew exactly where to be on that course that day. I picked up the pace and plowed through that next mile with a pace 15 seconds faster than the last 7 miles!  I didn’t want to just reach my goal, I wanted to fly past it!

I kept pushing on and before I knew it, I was passing the last water station where several of my friends from the Green Bay Running club were volunteering.  Just beyond them, I found Tom at the corner.  I knew I was in the home stretch.  Apparently somewhere around this point, I ran past Jessica and Kandace.  Apparently I responded to their cheers but I don’t remember much from the last 2 miles of this race.  I was just focused on getting to that finish line.

As I crossed under the Mason Street bridge, the finish line was right there. For some reason, I thought the finish line was a little further up on the city deck, but it was RIGHT THERE!   I sprinted that last hill and made the push past the last few people in front of me.

This was the day that I left it all on the course.  I pushed myself harder than I have in a long time.  I went in with a goal and came out with almost a 4 minute PR.  Over the years I have learned that I don’t run to beat anyone.  I run to push myself.  The only person I need to be better than I was yesterday.  It is about digging deep and finding that spark that has been hiding below.

I may never win  my age group and I will never win a race, but as long as I go into a race and show up with the best version of myself for the day, I am already a winner.

After each race, I always head to Athlinks.com to claim my new results and then BibRave.com to write my review. My Athlinks profile stores results from all my past races, and I can even find friends who might be running future races that I want to do. Check out results on Athlinks here and follow me so we can be friends (or maybe even rivals!) on Athlinks.

This has been a crazy adventure and an epic year.  I am looking forward to the next stops on the adventure train!


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