Did I just finish the 2018 Runner’s World Half Marathon?

It’s nearly 2 1/2 years since I started running.

Since I looked at “run for five minutes straight” on my Couch to 5K app and thought, how am I gonna do this?

Since I dealt with shin splints from running too fast at the start of a 5K race.

Since I “bonked” during the Broad St. 10 Miler in Philadelphia back in May, and had to walk multiple times.

Over 2 1/2 years of lacing up the shoes, in the heat of summer, and the stinging cold of winter, of just getting out there and showing up, and I just completed my first half-marathon.

When I ran my first mile back in 2016 it took me 13 minutes. This past weekend I ran 13.1 miles.

Ten weeks ago I started a training program. It had me running “fartleks” and intervals. Had me Googling “cruising pace.” Got me into running 4x1200s at a 10:25 pace, in pain, wondering if it would amount to anything, or just leave me hurt.

Final time, 2:16:34.

Pace, 10:26.

I ran that many miles, at that pace? No way.

But it’s true. Here I am a few days later and I feel fantastic. No soreness. No limping. No burnout. And I’m ready for more.

This was just me running every other day. See, life wasn’t tossing job opportunities in my lap, so I needed to the fill the time with something, and instead of continuing on my journey of soft and chewy chips ahoy cookies, I put up some dumb looking shoes, and too-short shorts, and literally changed my life.

It goes with my realization with a credit card that I defaulted on years ago… ahem…

If I had just paid $100/mo over the years, it would have been paid off, and my credit rating wouldn’t have taken a hit.

Instead, I let it go. Instead of a small, steady effort over multiple years, I let it veer off course until it became painful and careened off a waterfall. I’ve since corrected that mess, but it was a lesson learned.

The best time to “start getting in shape” was five, ten years ago.

The next best time is right now. Today.

I still stumble with food choices from time to time, of course. And yeah, I’ve burnt out a few times with running. But I don’t think I’ve gone a whole week since July of 2016 without running. It’s just this thing I do now. And it’s opened up this entire new world to me, like getting out at 8am with a bunch of strangers and running 13.1 miles through the streets of Bethlehem, PA.

Casual chatter with fellow runners.

Joking about all the hills.

Random high fives. Sprinting to the finish line just to see if I could do it.

As a friend of mine said, years ago we’d stay out late at shows, and eat diner food at 2am. Now we’re in bed at 9pm so we can get up early on a Sunday morning for a group run.

In my 20s and 30s I took this for granted. I’ll always have my health, my legs, these lungs. Now in my 40s, I see the fragility of life, how it can be snapped away in an instant, or wither from neglect.

I rode all around the US in my 30s. I hope to run as much in my 40s so I’m still active and mobile into my 50s and 60s and beyond.

The Bethlehem Half Marathon was hilly, and the longest I’ve ever run, but I didn’t walk. I never hit the wall on any hill. That’s an improvement from May of this year, and that’s just five months ago. I’m learning, and figuring things out, and there’s still so much to understand about running, and life, but my eyes and heart are open.