Marshmallow Mondays


RunTheBluegrass Recap

Never say never.  Even after completing a half marathon that wasn’t very kind to you.  One that was filled with the steepest hills my legs have ever run on, and one that left me sore for an entire week.

Even before I crossed the finish line last year, I vowed to never do this race again. After injuring my leg at the 5th mile, the remainder of the course was torture.  Any time I’ve talked about RunTheBluegrass throughout the past year, I’ve said the same thing – I’m just glad to be able to say that I did it, because it’s not a race you do for time; it’s one that you do just to see if you can reach the finish line.

Add to that the fact that I usually don’t run ANY race more than once.  I like to support different causes, and I like variety.  All of that being said, the chances of me returning to the RunTheBluegrass half marathon course were slim to none.

Enter 2014, and the news that Heather Abbott would be the guest of honor at this same race.  I didn’t think twice.  I just signed up. That’s the kind of influence Heather Abbott has.  Who is Heather Abbott?  She is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Click here to watch the piece that WKYT did last week regarding Heather’s visit to the Bluegrass.

Saturday’s race day weather was less than desirable.  Rain (heavy at times), wind and cold air made for thousands of soggy, shivering runners.  But, you don’t train for months for RunTheBluegrass only to back out on race day because of a little rain, especially when you know that Heather Abbott showed up for you. Instead, you hold your head high, you attack each hill, you don’t stop, you pull inspiration from those around you who are doing the same, and you find every ounce of strength you have just to reach the finish line and receive that oh so cool Zenyatta-inspired horse medal.

I have to talk about the remarkable volunteers too.  I don’t know how RunTheBluegrass finds the type of people willing to show up on a day like Saturday and stand outside for hours freezing their tails off.  The truly awesome thing was, that they didn’t just stand there and clap when you ran by.  They didn’t just say a simple “you can do it.”  These volunteers gave it their all and made you feel like they felt every ounce of the fight that was going on inside of you.  If the torrential downpour bothered them, they sure didn’t show it.  They were flat out awesome, and truly had an effect on my will to keep going.

And then there were the bands.  The most memorable for me were the people playing the drums at the dreaded mile-9.  Pushing myself up the hill that makes you want to cry was slightly easier with the thump of the drums beneath my legs.

This race was definitely memorable.  It was a true challenge.  It was kind of miserable too.  BUT, I did it.  I accomplished a personal goal, and isn’t that what running is all about?  My time of 1:45:09 was a thirteen minute improvement over last year’s time, and for me, it was all worth it.

This is the first time that my family didn’t see me cross the finish line of a race.  They were staying warm and dry inside of Keene Barn.  I literally looked like I got a bath when I found them, and when I saw the disappointment on Ryan’s face when he said “We missed you.  I can’t believe we missed you,” I simply smiled and said “It’s okay,” and I meant it.  Something happened with the halfway text he received letting him know that I was halfway through.  It didn’t reach him until after I’d passed my halfway point, so he wasn’t expecting me to cross the finish line when I did, and therefore missed the moment that I finished and received my medal. Bummer? In hindsight, maybe a little, but in looking at the big picture that day with the daunting elements and difficult hilly course, I am just grateful and proud to have accomplished this one.  I won’t ever forget it.

I had high hopes of meeting Heather Abbott too, but unfortunately I didn’t get that opportunity. I would have loved to shake her hand, but even though it didn’t happen, I will forever cherish the influence that she had on getting me back onto that course and inspiring me to overcome something that was a big disappointment for me last year.

So between the awful weather, my family missing my finishing moment, and missing out on meeting Heather, one might deem this experience as a disappointment.  Are there things that I wish would have been different?  Sure.  But, I also understand that no one can control the weather, and that sometimes, it’s the unexpected that creates the most memorable moments.

Eric Patrick Marr, RunTheBluegrass Race Director, I think you did a phenomenal job.  Despite the circumstances, you managed to execute one heck of a race.  From a runner’s perspective, thank you for caring so much about your runners.  Thank you for caring so much about your volunteers.  Thank you for taking so much pride in RunTheBluegrass, because truly, it shows, and I am proud to have been a part of it!

I don’t have any pictures of the day, but this is all I need to remember March 29, 2014.

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