Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Lots of Pride – A Run Oregon review of the 2015 Cascade Half Marathon

I had plans to start this race off the same way I do all my races: well-hydrated, plenty of rest, carb-loaded, and (of course) coffee. However, life threw me a curve ball this week. My husband had a seizure completely out of the blue, and no…he’s never had one before. He was rushed to the hospital due to other serious symptoms, where I stayed by his side for days. I’m telling you this because the night before the race, after leaving the hospital late, I stayed up until 1 am making my husband a sign dedicating my race to him. I planned to hold up the finished sign up for photos at the finish as a surprise. The problem? I had to get up at 5 am for the race.

Your math is correct.

4 hours of sleep and a half marathon.

If any of you have attempted to run a half on little sleep, you have a good idea of how this went. Exhausted as I was, I refused to miss it because I was running it for him. I knew that regardless of my fatigue, I would finish this race even if I had to walk every single mile.

I arrived with just 10 minutes to spare, but I was very impressed with the organization and ease it was for the pre-race packet pickup inside the Cascade Jr. High School gym. I was directed immediately by a smiling volunteer to locate my bib number from the list on the wall, then give my number to more volunteers. They handed me a nice bag with everything I needed (plus goodies), After this, I was allowed to pick up my high quality, LONG sleeve tech shirt (it was nice to finally get a long sleeve Brooks tech shirt!), threw my bib on, and headed outside as the race was about to begin.

Runners had the option to either start at 8 am (which is good for slower runners) or 9 am. I was VERY grateful I had chosen the early start, because once the horn blew for the race to begin, my legs were fighting fatigue and I knew this could take a while…

At around mile 3, my legs gave up the fight and began to work with me again. I absolutely loved the amazing smiles on all the volunteers faces who were directing us around curves and handing water out at fuel stations. Finally, despite my fatigue, I started to feel pretty good, and was able to pick speed up. Now the smile was on MY face!

But it wouldn’t last long…

Shortly after mile 8 though, something I’ve never experienced while running before happened. Something that drastically affected the remainder of my race JUST happened – I twisted my ankle. Other than the fact it’s never happened to me before, I had another reason it was so shocking: IT WAS A FLAT COURSE!

Facing 5 more miles to go, I had to make a quick decision. Do I succumb to the injury and log a DNF in the books for my first time, or tough it out. If you’ve ever read any of my previous recaps, you’d know instantly what I chose. I have ALWAYS finished every race I’ve ever started, not to mention I wasn’t even running this race for myself!  With my disabled, hospitalized husband on the forefront of my mind, I knew I was GOING to finish this race no matter how much it hurt. This is one of those few times my mental strength (which my husband says is actually my stubbornness) came in handy!

At this point, I had slowed down to nearly a snail’s pace. I was walking a lot and doing something that sort of resembled running. Every step was very painful, but I have a very high pain tolerance and even more determination. To make matters worse, I was now being passed by the late start runners. My heart sank, but I STILL wasn’t giving up! I kept telling myself, “If just 4 hours of sleep and terrible pain can’t stop me, then nothing will!” That was literally followed up with me repeating, “I can do this, I can do this!” out loud over and over again for the next two miles. I can only imaging how crazy I must have sounded to passing runners!

As I approached the last mile, I was given encouragement by not just the volunteers, but by every runner that passed me. That was just what I needed to stop walking, and “run” to the finish. Normally, when I see the finish line, a second wind hits me to sprint to the finish – not today. My body was long past running on fumes and was being pushed forward on nothing but my heart and willpower. The best I could do was the cross the finish with the nearly walkable pace I was running at.

After thanking GOD I had finally finished, I did what I had been planning to do all along. Exhausted and in pain, I proudly held up my sign and had the photo taken. In case you can’t read it, the sign says, “The race is dedicated to my husband, Robert (whose in the hospital and can’t run) WE LOVE YOU!

Despite the fact that this was my worst finish time ever, it will always be my favorite race. The course was flat and beautiful, the volunteers were amazing, and I proved to myself that I’m so much stronger than I ever imagined I could be. This will likely be the one and ONLY time in my race career where I’ve been so proud to finish with such a terrible time. However, as proud as I am, you can BET I’ll be at Cascade Half Marathon next year, and this time – I’ll OWN that course!

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