In 2009, during my few weeks of road to recovery from aspiration pneumonia, I decided to do the Philadelphia Half Marathon anyway because I was signed up for it. It was freezing, I was hurting, it was freezing, my lungs were burning, and I was...hurting. I still ran a fast time considering the lack of training and road to recovery. I told myself, "never again."
On Sunday, I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon again. But as someone else. A friend of mine has been dealing with a nagging injury, so I decided to take her bib and run for her. It's kind of weird because after I got back from Miami 70.3 during Halloween weekend, running has been pain-free! I had two weeks to "test out" my knee to make sure it wasn't going to flare up during the race. I was able to log 37 miles of running during those two weeks, better than nothing I suppose. Hey, that's more running than I was doing between August and Miami 70.3!
I went out there Sunday morning, and told myself to have fun because there was no way of running a personal best...there just wasn't any substantial training involved to prep for this race. Having fun was my main goal.
The first few miles of the race, I felt like a superwoman. Then, the lack of training hit me. Between miles 4 and 9, I wasn't really sure where I was because the clocks seemed to be way off. I finally see a physical "Mile 9" banner; that's when I started cursing in my mind, at my friend that wasn't able to run. I had 4.1 miles to go and I was hurting. Bad. But, I wanted to keep digging. Heavy breathing and heavy legs...I could've slowed down, but I decided to keep digging. Why?
I wasn't even running as Jessica Chong. I was non-existent at that race. I was just a number. But I still had the urge to run my hardest. "Just slow down," I told myself a few times…but I just kept going. I got a bad side sticker at one point for quite some time, for about 2 miles, but I still went hard, using rhythmic breathing techniques to get the kink out of my abdominal cavity. I could've just walked it off, now that I think about it.
The last two miles were the longest--you know the finish is right there but it seems like it's never-ending. Yes!...the final stretch to the finish. I ended up running side-by-side with some other gal that was finishing the half, and I decided to make a final "kick" to the finish, just passing her at the finish line. All for what? I was only :45 off my personal best, but I was still...just a number.