Break out the Champagne!! 100 day challenge DONE!
I thought: What am I – an insufferable cupcake lover, who hates running, who’s never done more than 3 miles, doing at a half marathon? Girl, what you smoking??
Several times, I felt I reached my limit. Running became a chore & 3 weeks ago, my stomach went “Hasta la vista, baby!”. Well, I can happily say * in your face *, stomach, boredom & can’t-do-it-ness! Because Nike SF happened, I ran 13.1 miles & officially became a half-marathoner!! I totally want to tell you how it went down! And answer the all important question: Did I find my MoJyo? Here’s the skinny.
READY, SET, GO!
Madness at 6 AM! Music blared through speakers as 25,000 runners (including 2 Olympic athletes & 1 Olympic par-athlete) made their way to the Corrals.
Click to see full images
RACE COURSE: MILES 0-3
Adrenaline took over me like a longing for a Smores cupcake beyond your control. Coaches had warned us – don’t get carried away by the excitement, keep a level head. The most common mistake is sprinting right off the bat, you need to save your energy to last through the race. I checked my pace – 8 mins per mile…waaaay too fast! Counting to ten, breathing deeply, I willed myself to slow down. I let several runners go past me, trying not to panic or get fazed. I saw the sun rise and light up the streets – the world around me transformed. Beautiful San Francisco was waking up & I was getting to see it. Everyone let out a massive cheer as we ran past the 1 mile marker. 12 more to go!
RACE COURSE: MILES 4-9
I was warmed up & in my groove. I saw it then: the famous gravity-defying, twisting, winding San Francisco hills. I realized the value of training, because I kept going without missing a beat. The landscape morphed from urban streets to the beautiful Golden Gate Park. The best part was the cheerleaders & bands! (When a band plays the “Rocky” theme song as you’re running, you think, “YES!, I AM ROCKY!”). Someone had a sign “This is just a 3 mile run, with a 10 mile warm up!”
RACE COURSE: MILES 10-13.1
Every runner d.r.e.a.d.e.d Mile 10.
For this was Mordor to our Frodo (yes, nerdy Lord of the Rings reference). Here awaited the steepest, most brutal hill climb of all.
But I was armed with diligent training, mentally prepared to crush it. I started the ascent & my knee buckled, OWWW!!
A sharp pain surged below my left knee & shin: I had pulled a muscle.
&%&@$%()#$@#!!@#$#$^$^&#$%@#$%!##$^#^ ER !!!
I was well hydrated, taking energy chews/gels at the right points. I even conserved energy well for “negative splits” – running the second half of the race faster than the first half. Every minute was precious. But so was my health. I stretched, jogged slowly – to no avail. I saw only steepness ahead. (& being short, it was an EXTRA big looking hill.)
I made the decision to walk – meaning, wouldn’t finish the race at my target time. I was disheartened, but needed to focus on the finish line. Maybe this was a lost battle, the war was still at stake. I walked with a heavy heart, past the bands & “Chasers” high-fiving people for making it past the most difficult part of the course. And then I saw this:
It reminded me of the real reason I was doing this. It wasn’t to make my target time of 2 hours 30 minutes… that was a lofty goal for a first timer, that too on a hilly course. I was doing this, to prove that I could. If this amazing warrior woman could do this, I had no excuse. Crossing that finish line with grace, happiness & commitment was my goal.
With some motivation from Mary J Blige, I made it through. Hail Mary!
Give it your all at the last leg, was the coaching mantra. And so I did. I ran past all the fatigued runners who had overtaken me at the start. Taiko drum players urged us, “You can do it! Keep going! You’re so strong!”. I fervidly marched to the beat, just as Skrillex dropped on my playlist. YAASSS!! I burst out into the biggest sprint of my life.
I crossed the finish line in 2 hours 53 minutes, with a big stinkin’ smile on my face.
Instead of Race Medals, we got Tiffany Necklaces (I’ll take the Tiffany bling, thank you!). FIREMEN from San Francisco Fire Department decked out in Tuxedos (no really!), handed out our Tiffany necklaces!! I died & went to heaven!
DID I FIND MY MOJYO?
Ten years ago, I hated looking in the mirror.
Not just because of the Acne constellations on my face, or the 160 pounds on my 5″1 frame. I hated looking in the mirror, because I wasn’t a fan of the person on the inside. The girl on the inside desperately lacked confidence. She was insecure & lost. Failure was such a habit, she prepared for it, like it was inevitable. It took hitting rock bottom to finally wake up…. It was time to look in the mirror.
Every now & then, when I get off track, it’s a reminder to pause & look in the mirror. For me, Jyo, finding my MoJyo, is a metaphor to look at that reflection & ask if I see the real me.
Mojo is what moves us, inspires us, pushes us, to dream big. To do more. To aspire to be more than we are. ANYBODY, even a cupcake face like me, can do something that piques you, challenges you & achieve something of meaning to you. Just give yourself 100 days.
There will be obstacles along the way, it won’t be easy. But nothing worth doing ever is. I didn’t realize it 2 years ago, but starting outdoor running & sticking with it for 20 minutes, was an unexpected gift. At the end of this journey, I feel GRATITUDE.
Immense gratitude for this opportunity – for the course; for training with such a wonderful team & coaches who taught me to have fun without burning out. For the support of my friends & family who are the best cheerleaders I could ask for in life. For giving 13.1 miles a chance to be more than just a number.
I think I found something special – a piece of my MoJyo.
What’s your 100 Day Challenge? If I can do it, you can too!
How far is Heaven? Closer than you think. Take it away, Los Lonely Boys!