Sunday, January 18, 2015

I Just Ran a Half Marathon and Here's How I Feel About All That

We kinda decided to do it on a whim. It was always about the cause, not the race. Back in April 2014, we found out that my dad has mild to moderate Parkinson's Disease. We were surprised and immediately started learning all we could about it, as we pretty much knew about Michael J. Fox and that's where it stopped. But Dad doesn't have the same symptoms as Michael J. Fox.... every patient is different and it's been fascinating to learn what works for some people and the new technologies and medications they are coming out with to combat Parkinson's Disease. 

Anyways, in the immediate weeks after the diagnosis, my family and I were researching and trying to see if there was anything we could do to help fight this disease. It slowly progresses, but it does progress. Thankfully, my Dad has found a treatment that has helped him feel better than he has felt in 5 years. It's amazing and we are so thankful for the people who fight so hard to find a cure. As we looked online to see if there was anything we could do, my sisters and I found that the Houston Area Parkinson Society was holding registration for the Chevron Houston Half-Marathon and Marathon. If you raise money for HAPS, you get a spot in the race without having to participate in the lottery. Jaclyn and I talked about it... maybe we could do the half-marathon? Maybe we could try? We could raise money and support Dad and also maybe do something athletic for the first time in our lives? 

My sweet sister Shannon had to support us in spirit as she has had 3 foot surgeries so running 13.1 miles just wasn't going to be an option for her. There were days in this process that I have been jealous of her foot surgeries, I'm just going to say that right now. I should also note that my sweet Grantley was supposed to run with us but about 2 weeks ago while training he started having a knee problem that he just couldn't shake. He deferred to next year and is determined to make it happen in 2016. 

Anyways, we raised our money and got our official registration in place and started training for a 13.1 mile race.

13.1 miles.

A few things you should know about me:

1. At the beginning of this, I could not run 1 mile. Not one. 

2. I am not a runner.

3. I don't think I owned a sports bra.

4. I have never played any kind of team sport.

5. I like to sing and act and dance. I do not like cardio-focused activities or sweating.

So really, I had a lot going for me. 

Not only have I never run a race of any kind, I have never even attended a race of any kind. Never been to one. Had no idea what to expect.

Jaclyn and I met in a Target parking lot at 5:30am this morning (the Target is fitting for us) and drove ourselves downtown to run a half-marathon. You know what else is fun? It's her birthday! If I had my act together I would've had a gift to greet her with this morning but I just wasn't firing on all cylinders at this point as I woke up at 4:45am FOR THE LOVE.

We drove down there, parked, walked ourselves into the convention center and immediately started to laugh. This is just so foreign to us. We didn't really know what to do or where to go. Thankfully, the entire event was very well organized and you really couldn't miss where you were supposed to be. 

As we walked out to our corral, we just kept laughing at the ridiculousness of what we were doing. "What is happening? How is this our life? Are we about to do this?!?"

Here I am with the birthday girl, at the crack of dawn, waiting for the race to start. And yawning.

Finally, we started moving towards the start line (we were in the back of the pack) and I was just FLOORED at the amount of people at this event. Between the marathon, the half-marathon, and the 5k, there were thousands and thousands of people. It was amazing. 

The race started and we kinda giggled and started running. 

One thing that was so fun was all of the people and all of the signs. Random strangers cheering us on by name (our bibs had our name on it) and entertaining us with their creative sign of encouragement. 

I always run with music in my ears, but this race I decided to just take out the earphones and just take it all in. So many places along the way had loud music playing (Taylor Swift! Uptown Funk! Justin Timberlake!) live bands on the side of the road, and even bagpipes and a marching band. 

A few of my favorite signs:

"You can do it, Random Stranger!"
"Smile if you peed a little!"
"It was really hard for me to make this sign, you can run a few more miles!"
"Hurry up, Mommy, we're hungry!"
"You trained for this longer than Kim Kardashian was married."
"You're running a half-marathon. Chuck Norris never ran a half-marathon. You > Chuck Norris."
"Run Faster, Meow." (I always appreciate a good Super Troopers reference)
"Your feet hurt because you're kicking so much ass!"
"Run like your phone has 1% battery!"
"Sorry, but you still have a really long way to go!"

They were so funny. And they would cheer and clap and it was all just so fun.

Here I am around mile 5ish, when I first saw my people. I was trying to get Ellie to smile.

Poor Ellie. She was so confused. She couldn't find me and she hadn't eaten and it was early. Here she is with her Daddy and her donut hole and her Mickey Mouse and she was just SOBBING when I saw her. It was hard to leave her! 

Thankfully, they got some food and some chocolate milk in her, and the next time I saw her (mile 9, I think?) she had a much happier reaction!

It really was so encouraging to see my people every few miles. Jaclyn is like the wind and ran way ahead of me pretty quickly. That girl is a rock star.

Another thing I'd like to note is that I AM THANKFUL FOR SNACKS.

People watching the race kept offering snacks and I TOOK EVERY SINGLE THING THEY OFFERED ME.

You brought food here? YES, PLEASE!
I had pretzels.

I had a Snickers (the fun size!)

I had gummy bears. The guy handing them out was just handing out gummy bears in Dixie Cups so I did have to ask him if they were safe. "Do these have Vodka in them? I hear people are doing that nowadays." 

"No, but that would've made it more fun, huh?"

I enjoyed my snacks and my Gatorade. One couple even stood there handing out paper towels which I thought was brilliant since I was so sweaty and my nose was running.

Really, I was just the picture of beauty. 

The race itself went well. It could not have been a more beautiful day.  I was tempted to walk a few times, but I just kept telling myself that the sooner I completed each mile, the sooner this would be over and I could sit down. Out of the 13.1 miles, I probably walked about a half mile of it, total. Also, all I cared about was finishing so I had no expectations or goals as far as time or pace was concerned. The last few miles were very hard. I saw some friends of mine a little after mile 12 (THE LONGEST MILE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD) who hollered to me that I only had 6 more blocks! 

I picked up my speed and when I saw that finish line I got a little overwhelmed with joy because I just really wanted it to be done. I heard my name as I approached the Finish and saw my people again, cheering me on.

Honestly, I still can't believe that I did it.


That means there were people that completed 26.2 miles well before I could hammer out 13.1. I never claimed to be fast, y'all!

I crossed the finish line at 2 hours, 37 minutes and I ran an average 12:03/mile. Like I said, I was barely making it, people.

After the race, I got my medal because apparently I'm like an athlete or something, and then I met up with my family at the HAPS tent in Charity Village.

Here we are with the man of the hour.

We were so proud to do this, and I know he was proud of us too. 

Afterwards, we all went together and with some other friends who ran to Pappasitos to eat queso because that's what you do.

It was during this meal that both Ellie and I started to crash. 

We got home and I took a shower and blow dried my hair and GOT MYSELF INTO THE BED. We all napped and when I woke up and I had so many sweet text messages from friends and family. 

I especially liked this exchange with my darling Tiffany:

She gets me. Anyways, it was truly an awesome experience and I am so, so glad we did it. It was a blessing and I can't believe I did it (I would've NEVER thought I could) and I feel accomplished and tired and everything hurts and I'm dying. 

Seriously, this evening I laid on my couch and Ellie and I played a game called "pretend Mommy is asleep." Basically she just put a blanket on me over and over again and told me to go night night. Best game ever.


  1. Jennifer, you’re an Inspiration to a lot of folks. Running a Half-Marathon is an accomplishment by itself. You deserve a big time Congratulations. Your time is still amazing overall no matter what. You finished the race. Grant, Ellie and your Dad are very fortunate to have you in their lives and you just gave a lot of people inspiration to do things they think they may never do. Your a Champion to everyone, including me!!!

  2. I run about the same speed as you. We could have been running buddies...but I haven't made it to a half yet. Just a 15k in October that I never thought I'd run. Good job! Enjoy your coke and pasta.

  3. Congratulations!! What a great accomplishment!

  4. Congrats, Jenny! Running 13.1 miles is a BIG deal. Props to you!

  5. Super proud of you, lady! I don't know that I *couldn't* run a race, but I'm well marinated in the *wouldn't* camp, also known as Camp Lazy Butt. Congratulations!!

  6. So proud of you! Laughed so hard that you didn't have a sports bra. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. I thought about yall Saturday night and Sunday morning! Well done!

  7. So so so proud of you! Love your honest enthusiasm (and how you remembered all of those signs!) congratulations! You should be living up in pride for at least several months because of this one. I'm just saying - love you.