It IS possible.
Before that phrase even became true for me, I had already hit the "make payment" button on the Disney Princess Half Marathon website to secure my spot for a 13.1 mile race 6 months later. Why? Because I needed something huge. It was a quick decision (a rather costly one I might add) and once the payment was submitted, I retreated to the bathroom to lean my head over the toilet. I ain't kidding.
Once I got my head out of the commode, it was go time. I formulated a plan as best I knew how and I set out to achieve the biggest physical goal I had ever made.
Couch to 5K
I knew I needed to go S.L.O.W.L.Y. I'm old, ya see. Though I still very much feel like I'm 22, I know that my body revolts against that statement. It has born a quad of babes, had a myriad of innards removed and grown cobwebs on all athletic muscles and joints due to lack of use.
I chose the slowest, easiest program with attainable goals first. I downloaded the app to my phone and had 9 weeks to get myself to 5K status. It was half-funny to me because in years past I really could pull a 5K out of my bohonkus if needed. But alas, I am NOT 22 and my bohonkus would throw it back if I tried. The walk/runs were not really my style. I wanted to immediately be able to run 20 minutes, but I just couldn't. The program warned that jumping ahead could result in injury, so I stuck with it - exactly as it said (except for once when I was feeling good I added 10 more minutes and consequently dealt with shin splints for the 2 following weeks - lesson learned).
9 weeks later, I ran a 5K on Jekyll Island in 30 minutes flat. I was She-Ra, Princess of Power...for a day at least.
Hal Higdon, my other man
I had a week to revel in my glorious 5K-ness and then it was time to hit the streets for a 12 week program designed by the notorious Hal Higdon...or as I like to call him...my boyfriend who beats me.
This one consisted of 2-3 "short" runs during the week (averaging 3 up to 5 miles toward the end) and a long run on the weekends. Other days were for stretching, cross training, and resting...of which I only did the third option - RESTING!
Not gonna lie. Higgy Baby kicked my tail. Everything about it was stressful. Figuring out when to run gave me unbelievable amounts of anxiety. I did NOT like running with the double stroller (two 35lb dudes in there), but most weekday runs were with them. Because all training was in the winter-ish time, Husb didn't get home until after dark so nighttime running alone wasn't an option. And he leaves in the morning while it's dark, so that was out too. I last about 14 seconds on a treadmill due to EXTREME AMOUNTS OF BOREDOM so the kiddos and I had to find a rhythm (and a playlist!) we could all agree on. We changed up routes frequently, huffing and puffing all the way.
Weekend long runs were my favorite because I never did them alone. Not one. I never once quit on a long run despite rampant stomach pains, grindy ankles, knee pain, callouses, etc because I did not want to let my partner down. So...Kelly, Bub, Kara and the stranger I met on my 9 miler...I thank you!!
The Game Changer
I bombed my 7 mile long run. Mind you, I completed it, but every ounce of it was bad. Everything hurt and I ate too close to the run (I later learned I had to be 5 hours removed from food to do a long run) giving me crippling stomach pains. I was hunched over and darn near tears for the last couple of miles. My only thought when I finished was there was NO WAY I could ever add 6 more miles to that. EVER.
My final long run - a 10 miler - happened to fall when we were going to be out of town visiting the in-laws. I was panicky. I didn't have a running partner and the last time I'd run in that town I got chased and bit by a dog. Awesome.
The Husb and I developed a plan. I would run and he would bike so he could have my water bottle, G2 chews (LOVE!!) and mace (little doggy you're going blind if you mess with me again) without me having to tote them along. We mapped a route that would take us from his parents house in the country to his sister's house in town. It was epic. We planned to start at 2pm and at 1:50pm I'm standing at the window watching rain pour from the heavens. I wanted to cry.
I had tweaked my eating/drinking that day and the day before in preparation for this run. I was starving and knew I needed to hit the road before I got the shakes. At 2pm, I looked at the husb with defeat written all over me. He said, "What are you waiting for? LET'S GO!!"
The temperature was 41 degrees and the rain quickly turned into sleet. I had to laugh to keep from crying and within the first half mile I'm pumping my fist yelling "I AM SO HARD CORE RIGHT NOW!! LOOK AT ME TOWNSPEOPLE, I'M A ROCKSTAR!!" Yes, I had officially lost my mind and we'd barely begun.
I focused in on my pace and my rhythm wanting to lock it in for the long haul. The Husb gave me plenty of space and stayed a good ways in front or behind, always hitting me up with encouragement at just the right time. I remember saying "Cake" over and over on mile 8 because for the first time ever, I felt like the whole half-marathon hubaloo was actually attainable. The final sprint came at the end of mile 9 and I screamed up ahead at my biker boy, "LOOK AT THIS PACE!! I AM SO MONEY RIGHT NOW!! LOOOOKKKK ATTTT MEEEEEEEEE!!" If my attitude was anything at that moment, it was humble.
Stay tuned for part two: My Princess Coronation.