At the beginning of this year we ran into some friends at the gym. After the casual chit-chat they asked if we were running the Kilimanjaro Marathon. Colton and I laughed and said no. I knew quite a few people participating in this event but since we are not runners there was no reason to entertain the idea….until our friends started explaining how fun it is and that really its more of a social event than a race. There is a 5k, a half marathon (21k, or around 13 miles – which most people run), and then the full marathon.
We left the gym feeling stoked up and confident about running the half marathon…which was in just over a month.
The training began.
To clarify ‘training’, what I really mean is of the 4 treadmills at the gym, the only 2 that actually work started seeing a lot more action. Unfortunately, running outside here is a bit culturally awkward. If I really wanted to run along the road it would be fine, but not being able to wear shorts...only long leggings (out of respect for the culture) is enough to make me stick with the treadmill indoors.
Since the treadmills have a 30 min limit, and there always seems to be a line waiting for the 2 treadmills that work, the most I was able to run was 3 miles/5k. This was my training for the race. Never mind that it was taking place at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro with a higher altitude than where we live.
My goal for the half marathon was never to run the whole thing. Knowing my own ability I thought if I make it half of the half marathon I would be proud of my accomplishment.
The weekend of the race arrived. We were excited, slightly nervous, and seriously questioning our mental reasoning for why on earth we thought this was a good idea.
The race was in Moshi, the next town over. We drove over the evening before to pick up our registration, find our little hotel, and have dinner with a group of friends that were also running the half. They were much more serious about the race than us as they were all runners in high school/college.
The morning of the half marathon we put on our running gear, covered ourselves in sunscreen, and put vaseline on all the necessary places (according to all the marathon tips I read on blogs before hand, this was a necessary step).
Thousands of people participated in the race. The horn went off and the race began. I made sure to stay at a nice slow jog so we didn’t use all our energy in the first 15 min….especially since the entire first half (11k) were up hill. We made it to the top of the hill and the surprisingly hilly descent started. After 13k I finally needed to take a break. I had already surpassed my personal goal and was feeling quite accomplished. Colton kept the motivation up to continue running. Determined to make a decent time on the race I thought letting gravity help me run down hill would be a good idea. After several downward hills my knees were telling me this was probably not a good idea afterall. This was around the 16k mark. The rest of the race I walked 1k then ran 1k. My husband could have easily run the whole race but stayed with me and kept encouraging me to push a little further.
We finally made it to the finish line. Most of our friends had finished long before us and were enjoying nice cold beverages and snacks. Our official time for the half marathon was 2hrs and 40min. Thats pretty slow but I was happy and proud of ourselves for finishing in that time since the most I had ever run was 5k and this was our first half marathon. There was a pool near by so the afternoon was spent swimming and recovering before driving 2hrs back to Arusha.
We were a bit sore for a few days after the race but nothing that some good stretching couldn’t fix. The race was very enjoyable and I think we will run it again next year, but hopefully with a little bit more training!
It doesn’t matter what goals you have set for yourself, whether big or small, as long as you cross that finish line and keep your head held high knowing you have done something amazing – you reached your goal!
I love setting goals and being able to look back and see where I started, where I ended, what I learned in between, and the inner pride I now have knowing I accomplished something that for me was a big goal, even if to others it might seem small.