what’s better than doing a long run through a pretty park on a Spring morning?

doing one for a great charity and running with a friend the whole way, that’s what. i felt really blessed to be able to do so on March 24, when my friend Hanne & i ran the New York 13.1 series half marathon in Queens to raise money for the international relief organization World Vision. it was my first charity run, and it was a true honor to wear a jersey in support of such a tremendous cause and know that so many people — friends and strangers alike — were supporting me  because i was part of something bigger than myself. i was surprised by how many fans came out to cheer on all the World Vision runners, and it was so encouraging to see them waving at us and yelling “Go Team World Vision!”, as well as exchange encouragement with other runners alongside us who were running for the same reason we were.

it was an ideal race, really, with a 9:30am start time (a welcome change to my 5:30 gun in Disney!) and set in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. the weather was perfect for running (60ish), the course was almost entirely flat, and the spectators were energetic. this was only the third year this race has been in existence and they said it drew about 5,000 runners, which was more than double the turnout from last year. the results showed 3,367 finishers and i was number 1,112, so i’m happy with that.

truth be told, i was simply glad to finish this one in one piece! despite the great conditions and the fact that i should be a pro at these “halvies” by now, having run 3 in the past 6 months, i really struggled with this one from the get-go. it was a combination of factors, really: muscle soreness from refusing to take enough rest days off of Zumba, boot camp and salsa that week (whoops); having not completed any long runs in my training (unless you count the Disney princess half exactly a month prior); barely any stretching or foam rolling; my recurring knee issues that i left unattended; and most importantly, i believe, the fact that i didn’t ask as many people to pray for me this time around! those prayers really carried me through my first two, and i won’t make that mistake again.

the knee pain kicked in much earlier than usual — maybe around mile 5-6 — and twice i had to stop for a quick stretch and some necessary whining. it was Hanne’s company, constant conversation, and support that really helped me buck up and pull through this race despite my constant pain and discouragement at myself for feeling so lousy and not training more or taking care of my injury. thank God for a great friend and running partner!

despite how i felt, i actually achieved my best time and had a PR in this race! who would have thought? 1:57:32. rock on, i’ll take it.

thanks to all my friends and family who supported me and encouraged me — i couldn’t have done it without you. i’m proud to have helped raise money to support World Vision’s relief efforts, and i hope to be able to complete more charity races in the future. if i’m going to continue to be a runner, i want to use it to give back to more than just my own personal success stories.

because in the long run, well…i’d like to be running this race for more than simply myself.