Yesterday afternoon I checked into the hotel and met up with all the fantastic members of Team Challenge New England (what what!) for a quick meeting before heading off to the inspirational pasta party. Man alive did that dinner get me psyched. Not only with all the pep talk, screaming, and cheering (and Team New England dominating, no big deal), but everything we've worked toward all season long was summed up in Mary Beth's inspirational speech. It was so moving it brought tears to my eyes. Maybe it was being able to totally relate to her or maybe it was my emotions going haywire because of the prednisone, but everything she talked about really hit home with me. Each and everyone of us suffering from Crohn's or colitis can tell you the date their life changed when they were diagnosed, list all the medications they're on, give details of their flare-ups, and so on. And sure enough we've all had our private embarrassing moments. Either way, everyone running or walking has either been there or has known someone who's been there. We're all in this together, and together we'll find a cure.
That night I wrote down all the names of everyone that donated. It was humbling to see everyone that contributed. Friends, family, everyone. Now get ready for some numbers. Together we raised $2,294 for the CCFA to go toward research for Crohn's and colitis! Team Challenge New England raised around $380,000! And, as a whole, Team Challenge on a national level raised over $1,800,000! That's right, $1,800,000! Incredible!
Thanks to all my supporters! You guys are the best!
I was so pumped and ready to go that I couldn't fall asleep. I think I finally passed out around 1:00am, which is pretty late considering not only would I be running 13.1 miles in the morning but we were all waking up at 4:00am to get ready. Regardless, 3 hours of sleep was all I needed. I had a solid night's sleep two nights before (which is actually more important), so I wasn't worried. When I woke up I got dressed, threw on my orange Team Challenge shirt, pounded a few slices of bread to the face, and was out the door ready to go. We got to the race course where music was blasting and thousands of racers were getting ready. It finally started going through my head that this was it. In less than an hour I'd be running 13.1 miles, which would be the farthest I've ever run before. But luckily I had Team Challenge teammates with me to be there every step of the way!
We lined up at the start according to pace, and I thought I'd shoot for the front of the 8-minute mile pack. I could do that, why not? I've been feeling good, pounding calcium supplements to combat the side effects of the prednisone, so I decided to go for it. I lined up with my Team Challenge New England buddies Nate and Chris. I knew from all the training runs that they were fast, but whatever I figured I could keep up.
Then there was the countdown from 10.
10, 9,... Oh God what did I get myself into?... 8, 7, 6,... 13.1 miles? Seriously? And it's hilly... 5, 4,... You know what? I got this. Piece of cake... 3, 2, 1, GO!
We took off, all 2,679 of us, to tackle the hilly 13.1 miles of the Inaugural 13.1 Boston in the Blue Hills. First thoughts: "This is awesome!" I was pumped, running alongside my Team Challenge family and getting started on everything we for which we trained. The next thing I know we're passing the 1-mile mark and I was right on my target pace of 8:00. Perfect. I knew I could hold that pace. My breathing was good and steady, and my body was feeling solid. The 2-mile mark came and went. I thought to myself, already? Really? And faster than an 8-minute pace? Sure I'll take that, especially before the hills really kick in!
We then came to the first of two out-and-back sections of the race, and it was awesome to see Eric completely destroying the course as he passed by me in the other direction. It was also awesome to be running back and seeing all the orange of the hundreds of members of Team Challenge! Also seeing my brother running in general was pretty entertaining. I was alternating water and Gatorade at each of the water tables, as the sugar kept me going and the water kept me hydrated. Up the hill to mile 5 and we were treated to one of the best views of the Boston skyline the Blue Hills have to offer. Down the hill we went for mile 6, turned around to come back up the hill to mile 7. Mile 7, just over halfway. I was stunned. 7 miles down, I was feeling great, and I was roughly 3:00 ahead of my 8-minute pace. I pounded a GU to the face, and the burst of sugar gave me a much-welcomed second wind before the caffeine kicked in. Miles 7 through 10 were all a nice downhill, but there was a catch. At mile 10 we'd start a serious climb over 1.5 miles.
It was exhausting to say the least, and I knew I just had to keep running and power through it. I reflected on how I've been through so much pain and agony with my Crohn's, and that this was nothing in comparison. This thought alone motivated me through that long uphill stretch. When I reached the top I felt like a champ! Only a little over 1-mile left! I couldn't believe it! I was really doing it! Soon I'd be crossing that finish line in my first half-marathon!
Coming down the end of the course was crazy. There were tons of people cheering, and I was smiling. Yes, smiling after 13.1 miles, after the hills, after everything. I crossed that finishing line with what I had left in the tank, and I was sure to throw up my hands in celebration. I was so happy! I mean unbelievably happy! I'd later find out that my time was 1:40:29, which turns out to be a 7:41 pace! The runner's high I felt was amazing. I've been through so much this past year alone, and to be able to prove to myself that I could complete a half-marathon meant everything to me.
My first half-marathon in the bag! 1:40:29 baby!
It was great to cheer on all the rest of my Team Challenge teammates and see how pumped they were to be crossing that finish line! Together we raised an incredible sum of money for the CCFA. Today, we either beat Crohn's or colitis for ourselves or for someone we know. Today, we're all champions. Go Team Challenge!
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all of my supporters for everything! You're the best! Thanks especially to my Mom and Dad who continue to support me in everything I do, and thanks to my brother and Meredith for coming out and running!
Feeling inspired? It's still not to late to make a donation! Click here to go to my personal fundraising page and make your gift today!