For anybody who’s missed it, I sprained my ankle on my last half marathon on a trail, (Trail runs are the worst!) so I was still on crutches for this half marathon. Of course I thought about whether or not to do this half marathon. But, here’s the thing, there was a six-hour time limit, so I felt fairly comfortable with that. And I had seen pictures of this girl who was running marathons every weekend crossing a finish line in crutches. She had broken her hip(!), but hadn’t let it hold her back. She looked unbelievably happy and superhuman at the finish line. I thought this would be my chance to feel that way. (I mean, less so than her. That’s unbelievable, right? But still, somewhat.)
So, I wrapped up my ankle, hopped on my crutches, and off I went. There were definitely two camps of people who said things to me – the camp that made me feel incredible with things such as: “You’re my new hero!” “You’re a champion.” “Go get ‘em, girl!” I loved those people.
Then there was a camp of people who seemed almost determined to get me to quit (this camp was much smaller and made up of volunteers, not spectators).
As I started off in the first mile, everyone passed me (of course). Some took longer than others, but eventually it seemed like they all passed me. Spectators and other runners threw out encouraging words and I really appreciated that. I knew I would be slow, but I didn’t truly anticipate exactly how slow I would be.
I did my very best to stay completely off of my ankle, but within the first mile my complete lack of upper body strength became very apparent. I let my foot dangle quite close to the ground, every once in a while letting my toes actually touch to give me a little bit of extra push off the crutches (since I have SO much more strength in my legs than my arms), but I was barely putting any real pressure on my right leg since I had the crutches as a huge help.
The first mile was pretty tough. There were a couple of times when I thought I must be at least slightly crazy to take on this challenge, but before I knew it, I saw that first mile marker! I knew in that moment beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could definitely finish this half marathon. (I mean, I knew going onto the course that I was going to finish, but something about seeing that very first mile marker made me know “oh, okay, this is very possible.”)
Backtracking a little, just about a tenth or two of a mile into the race…I saw a Dairy Queen! Ever since I moved to Los Angeles (about seven months ago) my friend Garrick and I have been talking about the illustrious, mysterious Dairy Queens that exist out here. They are few and far between, but if you take a trek, you can find one. And there was one right in front of me! Getting to the finish line was now very much about coming back around to that Dairy Queen!
In mile 5, one of the men on bicycles who rides around to check on people came up to me and was pretty flabbergasted that I was still in the race. He said that he had been told that the last runner was on crutches, but that they had removed me from the course. Like I would ever let anybody remove me. He encouraged me to quit, saying he didn’t think I’d finish. I told him that no matter what happened, I was going to finish this race. Period.
I asked if he could confirm the six-hour time limit for me. This became the beginning of my long day of talking time limits with various event staff/volunteers who came up to talk to me on the course.
I have never been more concerned with the time limit in my life. I knew that every available minute would be a help for me in this race. And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow (or you can skip the time limit entry and go straight to Part 2.)