My first half marathon

“Run like a girl? What does that even mean?” I said when I saw the ad for the Pink Series Half Marathon in Park City

When the directors of the Pink half offered up their run as my first half marathon, I wondered what an all-girl race would entail. I envisioned stereotypes – race packets in purses, cat fights at the aid stations, pedicures at the finish line.

I was wrong. My first half marathon treated me right. And after a pre-race night spend tossing and turning in a ball of nerves, I needed it.

And I learned what running like a girl means.

Running like a girl meant sweet “swag bags” for the 400+ participants that spoiled us properly – Skullcandy headphones, gourmet chocolate Utah Truffle bars, kitchen utensils, granola bars and hygiene items.

Running like a girl meant running a course emblazoned in pink – appropriate, as the race benefits local women battling cancer UCREW (Utah Cancer Research and Education for Women).

Running like a girl meant getting teary-eyed when I passed two sisters wearing shirts “We run for our mother.”

Running like a girl meant getting teary-eyed again when a woman double my age passed me, her young granddaughter cheering from the sidelines and carrying a sign “Go grandma!”

Running like a girl meant the majority of runners don’t go at it alone – they ran with their friends, sisters, mothers and training partners.

Running like a girl meant hearing “Run ladies!” “You’re doing awesome!” by enthusiastic volunteers handing me cold water and Powerade at every pit stop.

Running like a girl meant eying chic running gear – brightly colored sneakers, cute running skirts and, of course, lots and lots of pink.

Running like a girl meant, when I hit mile 9 and a recurring knee problem started acting up, no one zoomed past me without a second look as I hobbled off the course for a minute. They shouted encouragement – “Run through it!” “You can finish this!”

Running like a girl meant once I started mentally breaking down at mile 10, the furthest distance I had trained to, I knew I was strong enough to finish the next 3.1 miles.

Running like a girl meant instead of receiving finisher medals, we got necklaces with “run” pendants placed around our necks by men in suits as we crossed the finish line.

Running like a girl meant hearing my daughter tell me “Girls running!” for the next two days after the race.

And running like a girl means I’m scouring race calendars to plan my next half marathon – while icing sore legs and removing band-aids on blisters.

Yes, I’ll run like a girl any day.

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