After years of training, this weekend I finally completed my half marathon with close friend, Andrea Malek, who has been preparing for this event with me since January. We began our training with six mile runs, and gradually worked our way up to slow ten milers. The next step was to get our time faster, 10 minute miles, and finally, our goal: under 9 minute miles through out the entire race. And on top of all this we tried to incorporate sprints as well to get those fast twitch muscles moving. But three weeks before the race, we were BOTH stricken with injuries: shin splits for me and for Andrea, a hip injury. We would have to quit training until the race. So we babied our injuries, icing and stretching as much as possible and avoiding all physical activity. The week before the race, though still not fully healed, we decided to attempt the race anyway. We felt healthier and as ready to run as we were going to be. Though were regretful of not being able to finish our training, all we could do was remind ourselves of all the workouts we had already accomplished and how much far those long runs prepared us. The entire week leading up to the race, Andrea and I had the best excuse for eating plate after plate of pasta. We also forced ourselves to drink seventeen sips of water every time we passed a drinking fountain, just to make sure we were hydrated enough. On Friday, we took off for Praire du Chien, WI. I had no idea just how beautiful it was until we drove around the area!: Green and mountainous, an adorable town, right along the Mississippi river…We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful place to run this race. Anyways, that night, believe it or not, we slept in the back of Andrea’s car in a Walmart parking lot, along with our friend Ryson, a star track runner here at Luther, who we deemed coach. I didn’t sleep very well, but I was energetic enough the next morning while the nerves were setting in. We documented our nervous faces on camera the next morning while listening to pump-up music and planning out every mile of the race. Coach Ryson told us to warm up and stretch a bit. We waited around the starting line while the national anthem was sung and all the assistants were thanked. And before we knew it, the gun was shot! Butterflies flew around in my stomach and as we took off in a pack of almost 500 people. More of our friends greeted us at the first mile marker to cheer us on and take pictures. The first four miles felt good – Andrea had to tell me to slow down in fact. (Adrenaline was so high that I didn’t realize how fast I was going.) But after the hill at mile seven, serious pain started to take over my legs. “It feels like if I were turn or twist anything the wrong way, I would break something,” I admitted to Andrea. “That’s not good!” she said. But we pressed on. And a few miles later, my legs had gone numb and she was feeling the same pain. But at about mile nine we were both numb and ready to pick up the pace and start passing people. And we accomplished our goal! We passed a couple dozen of people in fact! The last mile, we turned down all the water stands and went as fast as we could, until the final stretch when we were moving at a full sprint. I don’t think I’ve ever used that much of my energy in two hours. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and our friends were there to watch us and congratulate us at the end of our great feat. We finished in under two hours, making the top five in our age group. So, moral of the story: if you want to surprise yourself with your physical strength, do a half marathon!