This blog post was written by one of our amazing ChiRunners, 14-year-old Allison, who ran her first Half Marathon in October 2014. Her dedication is truly inspiring.
I hate running. I ran The Columbus Half Marathon because I knew that I could, not because I liked running. Actually, the thought hit me the day my dad crossed the finish line at his first half marathon. In my mind, he was the last person that I thought would run that far, and I thought that if he could do it, then I could, too.
It all started when my mom joined a running group called ChiRunning. It was a four month program, teaching pain-free running, to help you finish the race, not win. My mom took the class for two years and ran the Capital City Half Marathon twice. She went from a non-runner to a half marathoner. That's when my dad noticed its effectivity. He took the class with my mom, took time for training, and ran the half marathon, too, thinking that it would be their last. Seeing my dad run that far made me think, pff, I can do that. I told my parents that I wanted to run a half marathon, and their first response was that I don't have the mental strength to do something that challenging. But I argued that I definitely did, and that I would take training seriously. And I did.
Doug Dapo was the ChiRunning instructor for my mom, dad, and now me. He taught the form of running that helped me run without a single pain. You find your inner chi and use your core to run, not your legs. You lean far enough that you have to pick up your leg to stop you from falling. When that motion repeats, you're running. The thing is, running is much more than moving your body, it's in your mind. Doug always said, "Running is 90% mental and 10% physical." The members of my running group (my mom, my dad, Doug, Leah, Jim, Beth, Kirk, etc.) were my inspiration and motivation. Even though they were supportive, I preferred running alone when it came to the really long runs. We met every Thursday for a skills practice and every Saturday morning for our distance runs. For four months, I didn't get to sleep in.
For long distance runs, you have to have a lot of preparation. First, for each new distance you run, you have to have to bring more food and water than the last time. I ran with a water backpack and put running gummies in the pocket. You also have to consider the weather. I started running in the summer and by the fall, the weather had become considerably colder. You have to dress for the temperature that you were going to be, not the temperature outside. I ran with music every time to drown out the thought of running. I realized that I never really listened to the words of the songs, but to the actual music.
Fast forward four months and about 100 miles of training. Race week was very nerve-wracking. I wasn't nervous about the race, but injuring myself before the race. Other than that, I had nothing to be worried about because I had put in the miles and was well-prepared. Packet pick-up day was fun. There was a total of 18,000 runners in the Columbus Half and Full marathon, so the room was full of athletes and energy. Vendor after vendor, my dad talked about how this was my first half marathon (well, big race; I ran 13.1 miles during training), and each person exclaimed that I should enjoy the run and take it all in. I was already having a great time until my dad told me that he was running the race in his kilt. Great. But I guess dads are supposed to embarrass their daughters, right? He also told me that he was going to kick my butt at this race. What a jokester. Anyway, my sister's birthday was the same day as the race, so when we found her a "Today's my birthday!" bib, she looked really excited. The night before the race, I attempted to go to bed at 8 o'clock because we had to wake up very early the next day. I ended up getting seven hours of sleep, falling asleep at 10 p.m. and waking up at 5 a.m.
Raceday. Energy rushed through my veins that morning. I had prepared almost everything I needed the night before and now I was just ready to go. Traffic wasn't that bad and we found our parking spot just fine. Our group met at The Y, where it was warm, had nice bathrooms, and I could finally eat my bag of peanut butter and bananas. The time came to head down to the corral and part ways with my parents because I've always been slightly faster. I checked my music, did some body looseners, and tried warming myself up because I had already taken off my Goodwill sweats. The national anthem played, followed by fireworks. The corral A group runners took off, and the mob of 18,000 runners slowly moved around this big U-turn, like a big slug. Then, after 15 minutes of snail-like walking the anthem and fireworks happened again for the rest of the runners, in case we felt left out. Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" blasted in the speakers. I approached the START arch. This was really happening. And we're off.
I had waited for this moment for such a long time. Of course, this was just the beginning, and I had a handful of miles ahead of me. The amount of fans, cheerleaders and people with hilarious signs along the road blew my mind. They were so loud that I couldn't hear my own music. I learned several things on that run, like go to the other side of the street at the water stations and how American runners throw their energy gel packets on the road so everyone else can have sticky shoes. People with signs were so creative: "Run like ebola is chasing you," "You still run better than the government," and "This parade sucks" were some of my favorites. At about mile 8, I was questioning why I ever wanted to run this far. Mental setbacks can be just as challenging as physical ones, but I got over it because I knew that each step I took was taking me closer to the finish line. Running up High Street, I could see the turn. Half Marathon runners to the left, Marathon runners straight ahead. I ran the whole race, never walking once. Once I could hear the music and the man with a microphone at the finish, my heart starting racing. Since I had saved some energy for the end, I sprinted it in. I had nothing to lose, and I felt amazing flying by all the people who were ready to be done. I couldn't feel my legs, but I was pretty sure that they were there. The FINISH side of the arch was right in front of me. And I'm done. I smiled so big.
The volunteers told the finishers to keep moving, and I got a heat blanket wrapped around me. There had been an issue with the medals so, instead of one being placed around my neck, it was handed to me in a plastic wrapper. That's ok. I still got the medal. I still crossed the finish line. I checked my phone to make sure that none of my group or family members texted me. I kept walking to where people were passing out food. Banana? Gatorade? Bagel? Granola bar? Yes, please and thank you. I left the finishers' area and made my way through the crowd to our meeting spot. Doug and his two sons were already there. I looked up my name in the Results section of the Colmnbus Marathon's website. I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 25 minutes, and 14 seconds. Then, I noticed that my dad's results showed up, too, and that he had finished. I beat him by 1 minute and 17 seconds.
Post race. My feet, back, and legs hurt. Instead of push yourself until the pain comes, it was more of push yourself and then the pain comes. But, then again, if someone asked me why I was walking slow or weirdly, I could just use the excuse of, "Oh, yeah, I just ran a half marathon, so ... ". I could pretty much use that excuse for anything. Although, I didn't always use it to get something but because I was so proud of myself. Because I crossed the finish line.