Man, I’m feeling it today.
In late July I decided to register for the Emerald City Half Marathon. It equal parts whim and feeling a mental/emotional need to get out and run an in-person race after, what, almost a year and a half?
I needed to do something that felt like me again. Depending on how searching for employment was going at that time, the race would be a celebration of overcoming a significant hurdle, or a healthy means of coping with disappointment and give me something positive to look forward to during a high stress time.
Beyond feeling like I needed to get back to myself through running, I didn’t have any time goals or expectations. My running times have been horrible, and not just because it’s summer and humid outside either. Unfortunately when I was in the thick of some heartache (all of 2021), my running took a nosedive in favor of cross training and lifting. My endurance is there, but my speed is shot to hell. Therefore, I knew it would take me over two and a half hours to finish the race, and I decided I wasn’t going to allow myself to dwell on disappointment.
I was too hyped up to run a race I’ve never done before with other people.
I think the in-person part trumped the desire to run for most of the people that came out yesterday morning.
This past weekend leading up to the race was amazing and felt like normal, happier times again. On Friday I drove up to Dublin after work to pick up my bib. While there I decided to get dinner out in Bridge Park. Urban Meyer, the former head football coach at Ohio State, opened a bar and restaurant in 2019 up there. I’m going to write a full review of Urban’s Pint House later this week, but for now I will say that I have never had more fun at a restaurant. The atmosphere just exuded fun and good times, and it was a perfect way to start the weekend.
Saturday morning was my time to get all my errands done and Saturday afternoon was part one of laundry and painting my nails. This may sound goofy, but I like having a fresh coat of nail polish on my fingers and toes before a race. I want my hands to look nice in pictures where I’m holding up my medal, and my feet … Well, they just need some help no matter what.
Emerald City – the recap
All those words just to get to the recap. Anyways, here we go.
I was way too excited Sunday morning. Part of my errands on Saturday included buying a running crop top from Athleta since I didn’t want to wear a tank top in the heat but also don’t feel comfortable enough going sports bra only.
So I had on a new, tangerine-colored crop with my lavender shorts, ice cream shoes (from Brooks Melts Collection two years ago) and gummy bears ball cap. My inner toddler was styling me and feeling good.
The drive up at 5:50 a.m. was so peaceful. My city roads are a constant construction project, so having clear dead roads to zip across town and the full moon guiding me was wonderful. My information email said to get to Dublin early and expect heavy traffic, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a parking spot in the library garage.
Start time was at 7, so I had a half hour to walk around historic Dublin and people watch. I recognized several runners I follow on Instagram and used to see at all the races in 2018-2019. I also noticed the honor guard talking to each other as they were waiting for the start, and took a video of the runners walking across the S bridge to the start line to send to my mom.
I couldn’t help tearing up seeing all the people who were smiling, laughing and happy to see each other. The air was light and joyful, almost like a religious experience for someone returning to church after a long, heartbreaking the away. A part of me wanted to start crying from my own joy and feeling uplifted, but I kept it together instead.
Then it was 7 and the race began.
The crowd and I ran east on Bridge Street to then make a right and weave our way towards Glacier Ridge Metro Park on the outskirts of Dublin. Dublin has some beautiful residential neighborhoods and I found myself oohing and aahing over the houses, as well as getting some ideas for next year’s patio flowers.
Eventually we turned into Glacier Ridge. I had to chuckle to myself, since I had been telling myself I needed to get up Glacier Ridge to either run or ride my bike. Little did I know – because I didn’t look at the course map – I was going to be running through the prairie flowers and across the boardwalk, picking up the same asphalt path that I love to walk on in the fall when the trees start to turn colors.
The back half of the course took us through the neighborhood running paths and eventually connected us to Emerald Parkway. The entire race had gotten progressively toastier and humid, with my body finally turning to toast around Mile 11. However, I will say the running crop was the best idea I’ve had in a long time, so I was hot but not miserable.
Around Mile 11 the emotions from earlier came back. I was thinking about the depths of the depression I was battling, how it came to a head and consumed me in April and stayed until early August. I had entered into an especially dark period when my relationship was ending, and at that low point I was tempted to end it, just so I wouldn’t be smothered by darkness anymore.
The only reason I didn’t act on what the darkness was encouraging me to do was because I didn’t want to leave Marina without her hu-mom. Or subject my family to that kind of grief. I wouldn’t want my mom to bury her only child, or put my grandparents through that kind of pain at 80 years old.
But mostly, if something was going to kill me, I wanted it be something good and worthwhile. Running into a burning building to save a child trapped inside would be worthy of an unfortunate passing. Depression and giving into darkness wasn’t sufficient enough for me to stop living and trying to push through.
Eventually I made it to 12.5 miles, where the finish line was in the distance and I could make it out. I started crying. Had I given in to my darkness, I wouldn’t be able to feel pain and discomfort that eventually turned to pride and bliss yesterday morning. I wouldn’t have seen all those friends from a distance, or Team Heart and Sole pushing their champion. I wouldn’t have seen the married couple celebrating 13 years of marriage by walk-running 13.1 miles and crossing the finish line hand in hand.
The Emerald City Half Marathon was not about my body or how crappy training had been. It didn’t have anything to do with the physical. It was for my mind and my mind only.
I had a victory to reclaim and I needed to remind myself who I am before and in spite of the darkness. In 2:40:56, over hills and through the prairies and woods, I did that.
So with all that being said, Emerald City was what I needed and the final step to get back to me, after becoming single again and getting back to work. Old Allison has reawakened as a new, healthier, more peaceful me. And I can’t wait to take her on more running adventures.
I hope you all have a great week ahead.
Yours in writing and running,
Your post made me cry, Allison! So happy you ran this race – for more reasons than to be running. Obviously you needed it!