Before my kids were born, I regularly participated in half marathons. I’ve always wanted to get back out there but it was hard to find time to get away from the kids to do training runs and I found it difficult to embrace the extra weight and slower pace. As time went on, it became a mental block for me. Deep down, I knew I could do it and it was time to prove to myself that this mama could meet her goal and hopefully inspire others along the way.
This spring Magnolia hosted their third Silos District Marathon Weekend in support of the Brave Like Gabe Foundation.
A little backstory: At the end of 2017, Chip Gaines met Gabriele (Gabe) Gruenwald in Central Park. He was inspired after watching her run and eventually learned that she was battling cancer but kept training as a professional runner even throughout her diagnosis and treatment. Through this conversation, Chip decided to train for a full marathon and have Magnolia host it in 2018. Sadly, after living for 10 years with adenoid cystic carcinoma, Gabriele passed away on June 11, 2019. The Brave Like Gabe Foundation hopes to inspire others to share their own struggles while helping to find better, more effective treatments for rare cancers. While 2018 was the inaugural year of the race and then it grew in 2019, it was unfortunately postponed in 2020 & 2021 due to the pandemic.
After waiting two years to get back out there and run, the energy in the air was palpable at packet pick up and beyond. The race weekend kicked off on Saturday with a 5K and fun run and continued on Sunday with the full and half marathon. I decided to make my goal a half marathon (instead of say, a 5k) because I’m only half crazy. Let me also add, that I do not consider myself a runner, at least not since I had kids. My goal for this race was to simply finish whether that was by running, walking, or crawling across. With just 10 weeks from the time I signed up until race day, I did my best to prepare. I was painfully slow, there was lots of walking, but with each step, I knew I’d be closer to my goal. If you’re planning on doing a race and you’re unsure, I highly recommend finding a friend to do it with you. The accountability helped so much to stay focused on the end goal.
The night before, I laid out everything I would need for the next day and despite my nerves and excitement, I was able to get a good night’s rest which was great because race day came early. I woke up at 5 am and began regretting my life choices. I made myself a bagel, drank some coffee, and got ready. The star of the show was my Megababe Anti-Thigh Rub body glide… If you know, you know.
As a non-runner, it can be intimidating watching all the experienced runners move around to warm up and see their gear, but I was quickly reminded that this race was for any BODY and that is one of my favorite things about the running community. Everyone is so kind, everyone wants to see everyone succeed. People of all ages and experience levels were lining up to get ready for the start of the race. Chip came out and counted down each group to set off on their half or full marathon journey. Then we were off to meet our goals!
My first three miles were some of the fastest miles I have had since having kids but I knew I couldn’t maintain that and quickly settled into a pace I felt comfortable in as we ran through Baylor, down MLK, and all the way to Brazos Park East. I knew I was slow and wanted to see my friends do their best so I assured them it was ok to leave me. One of my goals was to meet new people and that’s what I did. I met a sweet lady a part of the Waco Striders and she let me know they run every Monday & Wednesday and all speeds are welcome. I met two sisters from Baltimore who asked me for restaurant recommendations and a man carrying the American Flag in honor of the Wounded Warrior Project. So many inspiring people!
Once we got to University Parks, I was starting to fade, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it another 3 miles but that’s when I saw my husband and kids waiting to cheer me on at the Zoo entrance. My eyes started to well with tears, not only was I doing this for me, I was doing it for them. The kids ran with me for a bit and seeing them put some pep in my step. The last 2 miles were my hardest as I started to get charlie horses in my calves & quads. I text my husband to tell him I didn’t know if I was going to make it and that’s when I resolved that I would just have to walk the rest of the way so I could cross that finish line.
I pushed hard and could finally see the finish line. Next thing I know, my kids ran out from the side of the road, they each grabbed one of my hands and pulled me across that finish line. I felt so loved, I had so many friends waiting for me at the end and cheering me on, it was the highlight of my race. A dear friend got to put my medal on me and handed me an iced coffee and then we got to take pictures and celebrate! Another crowd favorite was that Target was a sponsor and had a fun setup where we got to meet Bullseye the Target Dog, celebrate in a confetti booth, and eat cookies. I had the best time with friends and family, encouraging one another to meet and achieve this crazy goal, and will absolutely do it again. Maybe you’ll sign up with me for 2023?