Last August I ran the Guatemala City Half Marathon. It was terrible. It hurt every step of the way and when I finished, I made Joel promise he would never allow me to sign up for anything longer than a 10K again.
The next day, I started thinking that I didn’t want my last half marathon to be such a terrible experience…
My dear friend Carrie has been trying to convince me (pestering me, some may say) to run the half marathon in Coban for the past few years. She said it was magical. 13.1 miles up and down hills in the mountainous interior of Guatemala did not sound like a Michigan girl’s idea of a magical time, none the less a good time. However, her relentlessness paid off and I promised to run this year since it was going to be her last year in Guatemala.
While Carrie was not able to run Coban this year… I figured that wasn’t an excuse to break the promise I made to run.
So I started training up and down the hills in my neighborhood. While challenging, I didn’t know how well it was actually preparing me for the race. A few weeks back I ran a 14K where kilometers 3-10 were all straight up hill. I figured that was a good indicator, but it was only 14K, not 21.
I went into the race this past Sunday morning extremely nervous and expecting the worst. Actually, I almost quit at the start line because it was so hot at 7:45am I thought I was going to pass out. Thankfully, I had friends surrounding me who wouldn’t let me do that.
We took off through the beautiful (maybe even magical) hills of Coban and the run felt good. There were people cheering on every inch of the course. Neighborhood tienditas were handing out water between official race water stops. A great thing about running in Guatemala is that water comes in bags, not bottles or cups, so I always had a little bag of water in my hand, preventing dehydration. Since it was an out and back course, we saw the Kenyan front runners cruising back toward town. I was having fun, but still half expecting for things to fall apart around kilometer 15 or so.
Despite my fear, the heat, and the hills, I made it! The last two kilometers were mostly uphill and they were tough, but I didn’t quit. My time wasn’t great, but I’ll take 2.5 hours on a hilly course as a success. I crossed the finish line and thought, “now, that could be my last half marathon.”
Then I looked down at my medal – a puzzle piece with a “C” on it – and I thought, “or maybe I could at least spell out Coban before I drop down to the 10K distance…”