We did it!  We went all 13.1 miles in under four hours and now I can cross ‘Complete a Half-Marathon’ off the list.

It wasn’t easy, mind you.

Saturday was the big Bachelorette Bash in Deadwood with the college ladies.  There was the reality of picking up our race numbers and seeing all of the “real” runners.  That was followed by a little shopping, some Old West photos and dinner at the Miner’s Den.  Then came the partay.  Let’s just say we laughed a lot and Chrisa was plenty red. Then bed.

We hoped for sleep but Julie and I woke up every hour just sure we had overslept.  5:20 came way too soon.

By 6:10 we were walking towards the fair grounds to board the buses.  At that point, crossing through the traffic and joining the crowds, I had Condors flapping around in my stomach.  I found ladies I knew and we got some photos before we got aboard the shuttles to the starting line.

Holy Moly.

2,000 runners were racing in the half marathon.  Another 1,000 were 13.1 miles behind us. People were everywhere, an announcer was very cheery and the line for the porta potties stretched on and on and on.  We milled about and wished for the lines to disperse and when they didn’t we made the choice to wait until they asked us to line up and the crowds thinned.  This meant we ended up at the BACK of the back of the pack.

“There will be no gun at the start.  When the people in front of you begin to move, follow them.  Remember, your time does not begin until you cross the starting line.  So don’t rush or feel like you are missing out.  Just take your time!” the announcer reminded us again and again.  Slowly, the pack surged forward and ‘Chariots of Fire’ blared over the speakers.  We were giddy and excited and after a looooong walk we finally crossed the starting line.  Soon after we found ourselves jogging for a space in the pack. We were running a half marathon!

The route was beautiful, the day warm and more than once I found myself wishing I had my camera.  After mile 7 or 8 – really it’s all a blur – as we made our way up the big climb, the first marathoner past us.  Chrisa had said that it would be great when the runners began to pass us so we could cheer them on.  When she mentioned it during training we didn’t think it sounded so great but then it happened and she was right.  Not long after that, during a spurt of our own running, a marathoner cut through us.  For just a few moments, we were running with a marathoner!  I wondered if this it what it felt like to run with the mustangs, it was THAT thrilling.

Then came mile 10.  I began to really feel it and wonder if I’d make it.  It took forever to get to mile 11.  But then it came and went and so did mile 12.  Around that point Chrisa began leaping and skipping and clapping and telling us that we were almost there.  The crowds along the edge of the trail thickened and soon came the mile marker for 13.  I felt convinced that I couldn’t possibly run the last tenth, but the bride asked if we could finish four across and Lace had insisted from the beginning that we would run for the final stretch, so run we did.  The crowd yelled and clapped, the music blared and the announcer called us in.  I tried so very hard to keep smiling when all I wanted to do was cry – for sheer joy and thanksgiving.

The medal felt so heavy and good around my neck but even better was the sight of Jac and the kids with their signs and smiles. Every sore muscle, each blister, every layer of salt and sweat was worth it.

It still is.

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