Michelle Sieg

The power of a personal best

By - Oct 26th, 2009 12:39 pm

michellerunsNewPICLast Sunday, I completed the Des Moines Half Marathon in 2:38:18, which honestly isn’t all that impressive to most runners. But for me, it represents a personal record and for that, I’m proud.

Although a frigid 35 degrees, it was a beautiful and sunny day at the starting line in the heart of Iowa. Within the mass of 6,500 athletes, I looked ahead at the Iowa State Capitol and to the sidelines where running fans lined the curbs with cowbells and voices. Like the start of any race, the energy was not something that I can necessarily describe but it’s definitely something I will always remember.

The course took us through downtown Des Moines and up to Water Works Park, where the trees were ablaze with color, the pond glistened in the sun and faintly, I could see my frosty breath. By the time I was entering the park, the elite marathoners were already looping back through — which was both inspiring and admittedly, disheartening. But then again, I wasn’t there to prove anything (except, of course, my ability to commit to and finish 13.1 miles).

Water Works Park led right to another park at Gray’s Lake, which was a collage of blue water; yellow and orange leaves; and dots of black, green, pink, purple and white running jerseys of those crossing the bridge in front of me. It was beautiful. Then, it happened: my legs felt tired, and I was only at Mile 9.

As I rounded the corner to start heading back downtown, I was met by a headwind of 30 miles per hour; it took the temperature from cold to below freezing. Later, the marathon winner was quoted as saying that when he hit that wind, all he could do was jog, which made me feel better about having walked almost that entire stretch myself.

With about two miles left, all I could think was, “C’mon, Sieg,” and I’m not sure if I was thinking “C’mon, Sieg, you can do this,” or “C’mon, Sieg, get the hell out of this cold and finish already.” Either way, momentum carried me over the last bridge into downtown where there was a straightaway and just one more turn to the home stretch.

michellefriends2PICI knew I would see friends at the finish line, people who would be proud no matter what the official time said. That included my housemate Angie and her brother-in-law Tom, a huge running fan and my host for the weekend. I’d also see some childhood friends, people who have known me far longer than anyone, except my family. Oh gosh, I have come a long way since those days in the country school in rural Minnesota. We all have … Instead of spending a Sunday with their husbands and children, they were there at the finish line.

Looking back, the race really ran parallel to my life as of late. I alternated between feeling really strong and feeling pain. I hit some rough spots, and I had moments where I wondered what on earth I was doing. But most importantly, I just kept going. The fact that I made this commitment, trained and did it — despite all the chaos in my personal life — was very empowering. Thanks, gang, for being there and for everyone who has celebrated this and other personal bests with me.

Categories: Unscripted, VITAL

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