I can’t believe that I can actually say that I finished a half-marathon. This time last year I was in and out of the hospital every other week and hardly able to keep up with day-to-day activities. But just one year later, I can proudly call myself a half-marathon runner.
The Rock’n’roll Las Vegas race was an amazing experience. According to the finishers results, there were 20,088 runners just in the half-marathon. We were corralled according to our projected run time and I ended up in the 16th corral with a couple of the guys who were also part of the CCFA Carolina’s Team Challenge. During that time, the wind was going crazy. The palm trees looked like a hurricane was coming through and the sky was really dark. I got a little worried that it was going to rain again on race day, but thankfully, not a drop fell.
It was dark by the time we started which was around 4:50 p.m. The strip was lit up and thousands of runners hit the street. I started with a good group. I didn’t feel like I was getting trampled and I also didn’t feel like I was getting stuck behind a bunch of people moving slower than me. I quickly got separated from the guys I started with and kept going on my own.
Of those 22,000 people, about 1500 were involved in Team Challenge. I loved seeing those orange singlets along the way. We would cheer each other along as we passed and had lots of fans yelling for us along the route. There were also bands set up every mile or so to keep the energy up.
I kept a pretty good pace. I had hoped from the beginning to finish around the 2:30 mark, which means consistently being between an 11 and 12 minute mile. I ran the first 5k in just under an 11 minute mile. I stayed at that pace for about 6 miles when I caught up with our coach Carly. She ran with me for a little while and I’m thinking that the competitive girl inside of me kicked it up a notch when she came around. She left to find some of the others in our group around the 9 mile mark and that’s when I started feeling it. Heavy feet, sore thighs, hot hands. It’s that point that you have to tell yourself to “just keep moving,” because if you stop, you’re not getting started again. Those final 4 miles were pretty brutal.
I fell into a good pace with another Team Challenge runner and we kept up with each other for the final few miles. We were getting close when someone along the side said that we just had to make it past Treasure Island hotel. So we found that last bit of energy and hit a final sprint to make it to the end. Well, we made it past Treasure Island and it was definitely not the end. But by then, we’d used up all of our stored up energy. I also ran out of water by this point. I could see the finish line, but could not pull out that extra burst. But I made it across the line with a solid jog and may have flashed a little ostomy bag as I crossed the line.
The after part was possibly more difficult than the race. Everyone came to a stop which is difficult when you’ve been running for 13.1 miles. I finally found some water and chocolate milk and probably chugged them a little too fast. I got to the end of the post-race paraphernalia and made it to the Team Challenge tent to celebrate with my teammates.
As I said, my mom signed up for the race results texts and sent me a message telling me how proud she was and that I had finished the half in 02:31:06. I’m not going to lie, I had a split second of “darn it, if only I’d run a minute faster I could’ve broke the 2:30 mark. But then I had a reality check that I had just run a half-marathon less than 7 months after having a major organ removed from my body and I realized how proud I was of what I had accomplished. That finisher’s medal is what it’s all about.
Now, even two days later, I’m still walking pretty funning and having a hard time sitting down because of how sore my legs are. But with every wince and groan I remember how far I’ve come and I know that Crohn’s disease will never hold me back again.