Who Runs the World? or How derby helped me survive a half marathon

Last weekend I watched my cousin’s husband complete his first 5k. It isn’t like John is out of shape. He’s just more of a cyclist than a runner. But for whatever reason, he decided to run a 5k with my cousin Johanna and finished in good time.

When we were hanging out later, Johanna and I were discussing plans to run the Rock n Roll Marathon in Las Vegas. We both ran the marathon last year in Savannah and really enjoyed it. Of course, we only ran the half marathon. Neither of us was ready for a full marathon. In fact, I hadn’t even properly trained for the half. John said he was impressed with both of us for finishing it, and I told him the only thing that got me through it was derby.

See! We even have shiny medals to prove it.

Running is still very new for me. I absolutely hated running when I was a kid. You’d see all the kids running around at the park, and I’d be the kid huffing and puffing behind everyone else. It didn’t become something fun until I had to take a break from derby when I was living in Panama City, Florida. My friend Jessi invited me to start the Couch to 5k program with her. We set goals and a schedule. Suddenly, pounding pavement didn’t seem like punishment. I was outside enjoying nature… and occasionally getting attacked by nature. (I’ve been chased by a goose and a squirrel.)

When I moved to Savannah, derby started again. The Savannah Derby Devils take fitness very seriously and encourage new recruits to start cross training, including running. I swear this team is the runningest group of derby girls I’ve ever met. If there’s a 5k, one of us is running in it.

My cousin was very excited to find out about the Rock n Roll Marathon coming to Savannah. Somehow, she convinced me that we needed to run it together. She signed us both up. Training was on! Well, Johanna trained. I kept trying to go for longer runs, but six miles was the farthest I ever got. In my defense, we were in full derby season, so I was a little distracted with practice and bouts.

November 5 arrived much sooner than I would have liked, but I had committed. There was no backing out. The horn sounded (no starter gun in Savannah) and we were off!

Johanna and I kept a good pace. We stayed together until mile nine. My   hips had been bothering me for a bit, but it wasn’t until mile nine that they suddenly started screaming at me. I slowed to a walk while Johanna went ahead.

Mile ten went past my derby wife’s house. (If you don’t know what a derby wife is, click here for an explanation.) I picked up the pace because I didn’t want to disappoint A.C.E., but as I ran past I didn’t see her. Kevin, her boyfriend, yelled that she had picked the wrong moment to duck inside. Saddened but not defeated, I kept going.

The rest of the race was spent alternating between walking/limping and jogging/hobbling. Just when I was running out of steam, I looked up to see my wifey! She had run over to where the race looped behind her house to cheer me on. That gave me the burst of energy I needed to make it up the hill and within sight of the finish line. Pushing to make it just a little farther, I heard someone call my derby name. That’s when I spotted Violet Seizure, another teammate. She had stationed herself just before the finish line and was yelling for me to keep going.

I made it! Johanna finished just ten minutes ahead of me.

As we both hobbled back to the hotel to change and grab some food, we talked about the race and what it had taught us. I told her the only reason I had had the endurance to make it was from all the skating I do. If I have the energy to skate through a two hour practice with a bunch of girls hitting me, I can find the energy to run 13.1 miles. And just like during a bout, hearing my girls cheer me on inspired me to keep going.

I convinced A.C.E. to run a 5k with me. Spreading the running love!

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