About a year ago, a friend asked if I would run the Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon with them.
I laughed at first, then realized they were serious, and said “Sure, why not?”.
In hindsight, I can think of a myriad of reasons “why not”.
But let’s just say, I wanted to be supportive and agreed to endure the training.
Fast forward a year and two of my friends that signed up to run had to drop out.
One cracked her knee cap in two, had surgery, and is still in a brace!
The other got pregnant, didn’t train, and bowed out gracefully.
I was left with me/myself/I and wondered if I should just drop out too.
Well, if you know me at all, you know that is not an option.
I’m kind of stubborn like that.
I had been training for quite a while and really wanted to prove to myself that I could do it!
So, I carried on and moved forward.
The race is a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis and when you register, you can just pay the entry fee or you can agree to raise money for the hospital and not pay an entry fee. The more you raise, the more perks there are! I agreed to raise $500 and assumed I’d figure it out later.
I sent a few emails to friends and family and had a few donations come in.
I HATE asking people for anything.
Even though it’s a great cause (my favorite charity!), it’s just hard to ask people to give you money.
Then I had an idea.
You know, when you’re trying to figure out how to make something work, you have to consider your strengths.
What was I good at that could raise money?
I’m a good cook. (Important to know your strengths, people.)
I decided I was going to cook to raise money. But a bake sale wasn’t going to cut it.
After a few glasses of wine (inspiration in a glass), I created a private Facebook page, invited some local friends and called it “Dine and Dash”.
The idea was simple: I’d post on Sunday night what I was cooking for dinner and for a $25 donation to St. Jude, I’d cook it fresh for you too, deliver it to your house during the week, and you could just pop it in the oven for your family.
It was a win/win and hey, if I had a few people take me up on it, well, hopefully I’d get to my $500!
The first week, I had around 10 people sign up for my Chicken Spaghetti.
I love love LOVE to cook and these friends were helping me reach my goal.
I chopped and diced and sauteed and it was so incredibly meditative. Seriously.
Then the people who signed up the first week posted their reviews on our Facebook page and MORE people signed up the next week.
YES, this was working!!
THEN the page grew to several hundred people.
Not. Even. Joking.
Orders piled in.
It was exciting and overwhelming at the same time! I enlisted my teenager and husband to help out and somehow, we made it from week to week.
And by the time the half marathon rolled around…. we raised $2,755!! HOLY SMOKES!!
I could not get over how supportive my (new-ish) community was!
These ladies would raise their virtual hands and say “I’m in! Bring me dinner!” and I’d meet them at their door and get big hugs and sloppy kisses from their dogs and long stories from their kids about what was going on at school etc.
It was so much fun and I can only imagine VERY similar to delivering flowers- ‘erbody is happy to see you.
When I first started training, getting up to 3 miles was a chore.
It felt like my lungs were on fire, my legs were throbbing and I just hated it. HATED IT.
I set a goal to run a 5K in December and vowed to get my 5K time under 30 minutes.
I ran the Mistletoe Madness 5K and came in just under 30 minutes. Was the 4th fastest female in my age group.
WHAT?! Yes. Ok, this seemed to be a little more doable.
I downloaded a training plan and hit it hard in January. I built up my runs and was generally doing 5-8 miles a few times a week and then LONG runs on Sundays.
My longest run before the half marathon was just under 11 miles. That’s from my front door, down the main road with no sidewalk/lots of chances to be run over, across another neighborhood, through the greenway, through the nature preserve and back. JUST UNDER 11 MILES. I knew that course every step of the way.
I woke up around 4:30 Saturday morning and went through my pre run ‘ritual’. Coffee. Toast. Stretching. Water.
And then, I stepped outside.
It was SO HUMID and the thermostat said 79 degrees at 5:30am.
I was so not prepared for THAT.
I made my way towards the starting line and luckily for me, the fundraisers for St. Jude had a hospitality area set up for us with a continental breakfast and most importantly, bathrooms that were not port-a-potties. YES SWEET JESUS!
Y’all don’t appreciate real bathrooms until you see the port-a-potties 50 people deep at the starting line. NO BUENO.
So, for future reference, suck it up and fund raise. There were ALL kinds of perks over the weekend for those that did.
I started in corral 15 and talked with some of my fellow runners until it was time to go.
We watched for friends in earlier corrals and generally just told each other we hoped the other didn’t die.
The first few miles weren’t too bad. Hilly, hot, but nothing crazy.
My pace was definitely slower than during training, but I’d never trained in 80 degree heat, either.
Although I used to live in the Nashville area, it was so cool to see the neighborhoods from this vantage point.
Families were out on lawns with cups of water or Gatorade and their garden hose on full blast, letting the kids spray you as you ran by.
THANK YOU RANDOM KID!
Around Belmont, I saw one of my Nashville girls on the sideline screaming “LESLIE!!! LESLIE!! GOOOOOO!!”.
IT MADE MY RUN.
Seriously, to see that sweet face all lit up and yelling my name….that was definitely a high point.
As I ran along the course, I loved reading all the funny signs and grabbing water from strangers (thankfully not spiked!).
“You’re running better than the government!!”
“You look terrible, but I’d still swipe right for you!”
There were bands along the route which made it so much more enjoyable. I had headphones in, but on low, so I could hear everything going on around me.
So, about Mile 8, I started feeling the heat. FOR REAL.
My pace was slower, but still around 11:30 minutes/mile. Not bad. I had hoped to stay under 11 min/mile for the duration, but with the hills and heat, I knew that was out the door immediately.
Around Mile 12, my calves REALLY started cramping. Maybe I should have downed one of those salt packets they had at the starting line.
It just sounded gross at the time but now, I could just imagine licking the rim of a margarita glass and solving all of my problems at once.
But then!! I saw my crew!!
They had signs and cowbells and it was just so awesome to see them cheering for me.
I got some momentum and decided to haul it to the finish line.
I made it!!! Smiling and ready to go lie down in the shady green grass 🙂
As soon as you cross the finish line, they put a medal on you and take your pic:
2 hours and 38 minutes later.
Hot, sweaty, crampy and feeling like I could do anything.
That’s what it’s about.
So, as they say, you can start late, look different, go at a different pace and yet, you can STILL DO IT.
What’s on your plate? Because I’m rooting for you. Go do it!