Today was a very a special day. I will remember it for a very long time. Back on December 29, 2011, I registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in St. Petersburg. I was determined to do it. I walked and ran in preparation. I expected to walk most of it and run what I could.

This past week was full of anticipation. It was all I could think about. After I picked up my bib, shirt, and swag bag on Friday – I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer. This was the weekend I would finally become a half-marathoner. All day yesterday, I wanted the day to pass quickly so I could go to sleep and wake up this morning. Like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting oh-so impatiently for Christmas Day.

The alarm went off at 4am this morning and I was ready to go. I showered, dressed, ate a good breakfast, got my stuff together, and we were out the door at 5:20am to beat the traffic to Tropicana Field in St. Pete. The only thing I was worried about was the weather. IT. WAS. FREEZING. With the wind chill it felt like it was in the 30′s and it was windy. I was shivering all the way to my bones. I started out in 2 shirts, a jacket, and gloves.

Finally it was time. The first corral started at 7:30. I was in Corral 12 based on what I thought my finishing time would be. We had to finish in 4 hours and I projected 3:25. We started at 7:46:23 am. Within the first mile, I could not contain myself and I started running. I ran off an on through the whole race. I wasn’t running to beat others or to finish by a certain time. I was just running because I could and because I was on an adrenaline high. This was the farthest mileage I’d ever put in where I was running a good portion of it. I’m not a fast runner, but I run.

Hubby received texts on his phone as I crossed certain points: 5k, 10k, 10 mile, and finish. I saw him three times during my run – right at the start,  the 5k mark, and at the finish line. He took some great photos for me.

There were bands and music throughout and lots of wonderful people cheering us on, handing out water and Gatorade. It all kept me going.

By the 5k mark, I was ready to take my jacket off, as I had finally warmed up. The gloves would stay on the rest of the way.

At about the halfway point, I realized that I was really going to do this. I was going to finish this and finish it good. For me. It was very emotional experience. I cried many times during for many reasons…. This was a HUGE thing for me, it was HARD, and I was so proud of myself for taking it on, and riding out the determination of doing it as the weeks passed leading up to it. I didn’t let my insecurities get in the way or focus on all the what-ifs, and my downfalls. I cried from the sheer beauty of the route, especially as we ran along the water. I cried because I knew there would be so many people who would be proud of me for accomplishing this. And I cried because I wished more than anything Daddy was here to hear all about it, to tell me how proud he was of me.

When I hit the 10-mile mark, it felt SO close. Never had 3.11 miles felt so far or so close all at once. When the route was closest to the finish line and I could here the music and people cheering, it made me want to push myself farther and harder. When I rounded the last corner in mile 12 and saw the 13 mile mark and the finish line just past that, I was in tears again. I was so close to finishing, so close to completing this goal I had set for myself.

I saw hubby just before the finish line and that made me cry more. He was there for me as he always is. He supports me and I love him dearly for it.

Crossing over the finish line was a blur. My official finish time was 3:11:33, coming in 6503 out of 7006. I was handed a medal, given a blanket, a bottle of water, and a banana. My picture was taken with my medal on. It was then that I realized I had not stopped my watch. I texted hubby to tell him I was waiting in the family area and waited. When I finally saw him, I was so excited. And then, I saw my mom and Jenna! What a surprise that was. I had just texted my mom to tell her I had finished. I had no clue they were there, even though I found out afterwards that they were standing right by hubby at the finish line. Me and my tunnel vision…

Again I was crying, overwhelmed at finishing, seeing hubby, and seeing my mom and Jenna. they had balloons, and were so proud of me. It was a moment I will not forget.

The day could not have gone more perfect. I started the race with my good friend Terrie, knowing that she was doing it in honor of two very special people as part of Team In Training. I ended the race, feeling extremely proud and strong and loved. And I was so excited to hug Terrie and enjoy the moment with her, knowing we both finished. We did it.

The afternoon was topped off perfectly with a great lunch, with Nick and Autumn joining us. I am exhausted and sore beyond belief, but it is still a wonderful thing. And tomorrow, the 13.1 decal will go on my car. Finally.

Terrie and I in the freezing cold this morning. Brrrr!

Starting line!

At the 5K mark.

A beautiful day for a half-marathon.

What a view!

Approaching the finish line - determined!

So excited to see everyone!

Love!!

Feeling very accomplished! Terrie and I did it!!

A well-deserved beer at the end!