About 30 minutes after I finished the Big Sur Half-Marathon yesterday, I received a tweet asking me if I had fun. Fun? I had a difficult final third -- my heel, knee and legs were hurting for the last 4 miles -- so Fun was the last thing on my mind at that moment. But after taking a deep breath and sipping a nice cup of hot soup at the post-race event, I was able to recall quite a few moments of pure enjoyment. The last time I ran a half-marathon I was able to look back and list 13.1 reasons I enjoyed the event. Three years later, I'm doing it again:
1 - I got to run beside the Pacific Ocean. There's nothing like seeing blue ocean and white waves crashing on the rocks to take your mind off how much farther you have to go.
2 - I got to run in absolutely perfect running conditions -- cool, sunny, not a trace of fog or headwind.
3 - Heck, I got to run! I haven't been running regularly for the past two years because of my plantar fascitis, so I figured I would have to walk most of the way (my "in your dreams" wish was to run half of it). But my heel didn't let me down, and the beautiful scenery, crowd energy, and my family being there to cheer me on just gave me the willpower to keep running. Of course, today I feel like I've been thrown from the Empire State Building, but that's another story.
4 - I feel good about participating in an event that donates all proceeds to a great cause: JUST RUN, a free program designed to assist schools and other youth organizations by providing vital youth fitness programs that promote fitness and healthy lifestyles. With 30% of this country's youth classified as obese, we need more programs that encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits.
5 - We got to discover the pleasures of downtown Monterey. The only places we ever go to in Monterey are the Aquarium, Cannery Row, and Fisherman's Wharf. Who knew there was a whole collection of streets with charming shops and cafes nearby? Thanks to this race, we do.
6 - My kids got to taste oysters for the first time (and one of them even liked it).
7 - Alfie has been searching for a stretch of road where I can film him riding his beloved Triumph Bonneville, before he sells it. I think I've found the perfect place.
8 - The course loops back on itself, so as I was heading to the halfway point, I got to see some of the fastest runners in the country sprinting away on their last 2 or 3 miles. Amazing!
I even got to take a photo with one of them:
9 - I got to run past Alfie and the kids (the course ran right in front of our hotel), give them high-fives and revel in their proud smiles and encouraging cheers (I also got to throw my jacket to Alfie so I wouldn't have to tie it around my waist and have it irritate me for the next 10 miles).
10 - I got to high-five them again as they cheered me from the sidelines, 3 seconds before crossing the finish line.
11 - After the race, I scarfed down an In-And-Out Cheeseburger, Animal Fries and chocolate milkshake -- and Alfie didn't bat an eyelash.
12 - I've finished 3 half-marathons and run two of them -- which makes me a half-marathon veteran. Sort of.
13 - My time -- 2:32:09 -- is only 10 minutes slower than my last half-marathon time 3 years ago. I said back then that I wasn't expecting to finish below 3 hours, but I really wasn't expecting to this time around. In fact, I was scared they'd have to put me in a van and drive me to the finish line!
0.1 - Did I mention that Tiffany necklace? Oh, drat, that was last time. Unlike my Nike Half-Marathon finisher's medal, I won't be wearing this one out on a date anytime soon. But I'm so grateful to have earned it, I don't care. I'm just happy it's mine.