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On 3.18.18, Team Noah crossed the finish line in our 3rd consecutive Publix Half Marathon. It was a day of firsts.

It was the first time that I ran with Noah's "real pusher" as I call him...the guy who has done 4 Marine Corps Marathons pushing Noah and who is quite the accomplished athlete. It's the first time that Naomi decided to meet us at the 7.5 mile mark to save her body from being beaten by a race that life didn't allow her to prepare for. It was the first time I would really push myself hard to get to that 7.5 mile mark...

I was the most prepared I've ever been for this race, having been in training since late November. I was ready. My mind, however, was not. There was a long wait at the start as we have gotten this event to run like a well-oiled machine. As an event planner, time is the BEST. As a wanna be athlete, it is not. It was too much time for this gal's mind to wander. I was nervous. Really. Freaking. Nervous. To the point where I wanted to quit before we began. I kept saying, "I don't want to do this. I'm not ready. I can't do this.".

Luckily, I'm stubborn and there was no way in HELL I was going to get this damn far to not even begin. 

Before the "gun" went off, I did what I always do and took a step to the front of the start line to see the sea of Kpeasey athletes lined up and waiting. We were over 200 strong and the sight (as it always does) brought tears to my eyes.

Start line AWESOME-NESS!

Then the race was on. I wish I could say I felt great, but I didn't. It's no secret I'm no fan of running and being with someone who was faster than I am made me push harder than what was "comfortable". But it's also no secret that I love being pushed outside of my comfort zone. It wasn't easy, but we were steady and keeping up with people that in years' past I never saw after the start line! 

While I can't tell you what happened every mile or every step, I can tell you that Noah was different this race. His typical "happy place" is a peaceful snore as he falls asleep. Not on this day. He was the most interactive I've ever seen him. He'd smile when we asked him, reacted when we talked to him and would look up toward to sky light in the jogger we were using. That jogger, by the way, was once used by a young man named Jake Vinson who was the first athlete served by Brent and Kyle when they began their quest to provide these experiences to differently-abled persons. Jake is no longer with us, but I believe he was there that day with Noah. It was magic!

At about mile 7 my right arch started to really hurt and the "wheels were starting to fall off the bus" as they say. However, I knew we were less than a mile away from rally corner: the place our friends and biggest supporters would be. It would be just the boost I needed! You run through Virginia Highlands which is lined with people cheering and go around this huge, sweeping corner where there is this MASSIVE crowd of people in Kpeasey blue. Usually, by the time we hit this spot many people are gone as we tend to be a little slower than the majority of runners. Not this time. Another first. And it was AWESOME. There were high fives and how are you's and hugs...and there was Naomi. 
That's a mouth full of banana just past Rally Corner

It was time to relax a little, enjoy the rest of the journey and finish the way I always have: with Noah AND Naomi by my side. The last few miles were a bit of a blur. I think that's intentional because the last few miles are uphill. Not kidding. It's the most annoying way to finish a half...UP.

But we had fun...and even got our mid-race garbage beer which has become a tradition of sorts because there is ALWAYS someone out on course past mile 7 with some sort of PBR-inspired beverage. And I ALWAYS take one. Race fuel. And hydration.
I'm the tallest woman alive.

More miles. More blur.....THEN! We rounded the corner to the finish, threw our hands in the air and crossed with big smiles on our faces! Another race with my favorites complete. As tradition has become, I put Noah's medal around his neck, with a kiss on the cheek and a joyfully tearful, "thank you for letting me run with you".

Finishers medals and happy tears!

I went on to discover that I managed to "PR" my half marathon time. Bettering, even, my SOLO half marathon here in Colorado in February. WITH Noah. I have to say, I'm pretty damn proud of that fact. And thankful for some damn good coaching!

We did it! Another 13.1 miles together to show that anything is possible. I'm thankful to lend Noah my legs (and occasional curse words) while he lends me that sweet smile and incredible spirit that pushes me forward. Then there's his mama, who lends me her contagious laugh and unwavering encouragement.

This was the first step in big plan for Team Noah. We now focus on the bike, getting ready for August 28th where Noah and I will spend the most time we have together as a duo. If March 18 was any indication as to what I'm in for...I'm ready for all that the challenge will bring

Thank you to each of you who have donated to this incredible cause, getting us to the first step of what will be a big adventure! You can learn more about that adventure and our big plans HERE.


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