By this time next week the 2012 USAF Half Marathon will be nothing more than a page for the history books. My emotions leading up to the race are a roller coaster ride of jagged twists, hairpin turns and harrowing plummets. Ten months ago I broke my neck in a car accident. The type of break I suffered, a hang man’s break, usually claims the victim’s life, or leaves them paralyzed. This race was planned well before the accident, so being physically unable to run it would have been an extreme blow to my emotional well-being. Through God’s sovereign grace I am both alive and able to run. The depth of my gratitude is immeasurable. This race has deep meaning for me on other levels as well. I initially chose this race to honor my two favorite Air Force veterans, SMSgt William D. Crumpton and SSgt. James M. Miller, Jr., my father and husband, respectively. Both men are responsible for forging me into the fiercely determined woman I am today. I also get the distinct privilege of running with one of my oldest and dearest childhood friends, Lisa Ellis Floyd.
All that excitement and meaning have caused me to place an unrealistic and virtually unattainable expectation on myself; to beat my pre-accident half marathon personal record. I started my training convinced I could complete this race in two hours flat. Unfortunately my body and brain are on separate wave lengths. No amount of cajoling or sweet talking has made my legs any more cooperative. The truth is, my body suffered a severe trauma and no matter how amazing the subsequent recovery, these things take time. I ran my first half marathon in 2010 with a completion time of 2 hours 28 minutes. One year later I ran the exact same course in 2 hours, 8 minutes, a huge improvement. I felt so strong during that race. I had set a goal and trained hard for it. I knew I would accomplish what I set out to do, and I did. Weakness is never an option for me. This tough outlook has presented a rather large obstacle in my training this time around. Instead of getting faster over time, my training times actually got slower. It got so bad that three weeks ago my trainer made me stop running with a watch. Whenever I missed a time marker, I’d get defeated and that would ruin the entire run. Oh I’d finish, I’m no quitter, but my times were simply horrible. Finally, this past Saturday I had my best post accident long run. The time is still about 30 minutes off my personal record, but I felt strong and was actually able to run the entire distance.
Viewing my circumstances from a logical perspective, it took me an entire year of training to hit the 2:08 target. My neurosurgeon didn’t release me to start running again until April, just five months ago. By that time I’d been side lined for five months. For an athlete, five months without training is a huge set back. I don’t like to make excuses, or in this case, face reality. I really thought my sheer determination would land me where I thought I needed to be. Undoubtedly, without my head strong determination, I probably would not be running the mileage I am today. Coming to terms with my own limitations has been tough. I’m still not completely happy living with my limitations, but I’ve adjusted my expectations for the race Saturday to ones that not only am I sure I can achieve, but ones that hopefully, I’ll also be able to celebrate.