The Day I Became a Runner: Part 2

Just joining us? Click here to read Part 1.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes, the point where I “hit the wall.”

Mile Six: The Breakdown

My least favorite mile.

Around Mile Six, my heel started to hurt. I could tell it was flaring up, but I didn’t want to stop my cycle of only walking through water stations. I was extremely excited about my performance. I was
slow, but steady. Why does everything suddenly hurt? Everything from my hip down felt numb.

Unfortunately, I let my body win. I took a walking break for about a minute and decided I would do intervals through this next mile.

Mile 7

I reached the half marathon and full marathon split, and I saw someone in a Cowboys hoodie.

Is that Justin?

Who is standing next to him?

I got closer and realized it was my mom.

I got a little closer and saw this sign:

My mom later told me a few runners tipped their hats off to her.
So, I cried again.
You guys, I promise I’m (not) normal.

I started crying.

“OMG! I am so happy you guys came!” I cried. “I can’t believe this!”

I gave them both hugs and saw my mom’s eyes tear up too.

Justin ran around the corner with me.

“How are you feeling?”

“Well, I’ve ran most of the race so far!” I told Justin. “But my heel is killing me. And my buttchecks are numb.”

“You can do it, babe!” Justin said. “Listen to your body, but fight through the pain. You got this.”

He gave me a kiss on the cheek and I kept running, and then I lost it. 

I was bawling as I ran toward Mile 8.

Miles 9-11
Most of these miles are a blur.I did a lot of self-talk. Some positive. Some negative.

I do know- without a doubt- that my right foot was on FIRE.

And I honestly couldn’t tell if it hurt worse to walk or run. 

Around Mile 10, I get to Meridian, which is an extremely long stretch and then a few turns…and then the finish line.

But, I was at  the home stretch.

I only have a 5K left.

I was doing my intervals at this point. And my run was very slow.

I looked down at my watch.

I knew I wasn’t going to hit my goal, which was a pretty depressing moment.

 Just then, it started sleeting.

Yes, this is real life, Ashley.

The only way I could hit a 2:45 finish time is if I ran 10 minute miles the rest of the way…which- let’s be real- that was NOT happening.

At that moment, I got this text message from Justin:

Literally got this text 50 seconds after it started sleeting.

So, you know, I cried.

At Mile 11, more and more full marathoners were passing me. The motivation and determination inside them inspired me. They had gone TWICE as far as me, yet they had more fight.

Dig deep, Ashley.

Don’t give up.


Just then, the song Josh Dials picked for me come on. Let’s Go- by Matt and Kim. I pictured him running – more like flying- through his full marathon. I could tell by his determination and spirit early in the morning that he would hit his goal. He was  beaming with happiness and positivity.

And just like a movie, I heard someone yell, “ASHLEY!!!!!! GET THE (insert explicit word here) ON IT!!!!”

Josh ran past me. He really was flying!

I moaned.

“YOU GOT THIS GIRL,” Meggie said as she rode past me on the bike.

I smiled.

And then I started “running” again.

He is going to hit crush his goal.

I only lasted about 3 minutes before I stopped to walk again.

I saw a sign that said: “It sounded like a good idea 4 months ago didn’t it?”

Darn right. I wanted this. I still want this!

Keep fighting, Ashley.


One woman looked at me and said, “You got this girl. Right foot, left foot, breathe…”

Just then, I saw the sign for Mile 12. I wanted to take a picture, but my fingers were cold. Freezing actually.…Little did I know Mile 12 would be the most important and difficult mile of my life.

The Most Inspirational Mile of Life: Mile 12

“Hey!” I heard someone yell from behind me just seconds after passing Mile 12.

I turned around and saw a guy, who I had been running with nearly the entire race. He was also struggling between walking and running too.

“Listen, I need some inspiration and it looks like you could too,” he said. “Let’s finish this mile together.”

“Oh bless you,” I said. “I don’t know you want to be stuck with me though.”

“No, you fight through,” he said. “We are going to fight through this mile together. No stopping.”

The thought of running for more than one minute seemed impossible.

At this point, we were walking.

“What is your name?” I asked him.

“Josh,” he said. “And yours?”

“Ashley,” I said. “Okay, at this stop light, we will run.”

“Alright, Ashley,” he said. “We’re going to kill this thing.”

I wanted to burst out in tears.

I thought of Justin. And my mom. And the sign they made. My grandpa.

“I’m just in so much pain,” I said. “My foot is numb. Everything hurts!”

“Listen, we got this,” Josh said. Just one mile left.”

We started to run at the stoplight.

“So how many half marathons have you done?” I asked Josh.

My theory was to ask him absolutely anything to keep my mind off the pain.

“I’ve actually done seven this year!” he said.

“What!?” I said. “That’s incredible! What inspired you do so many this year?”

“Well my wife is a marathoner,” he said. “She is actually running the full marathon today. Last year, I was a spectator at one of her marathons. And I realized that runners are the most amazing, courageous, and wonderful people. So I wanted to become one.”

“Wow,” I said. “That’s so inspiring!”

But clearly I wasn’t inspired enough, because these were the next words out of my mouth:

“I want to stop,” I told him.

“No, don’t stop!” He said. “You got this!”

“No, I don’t!” I said. “Everything hurts!”

“Ashley, think about how amazing it will feel when you cross that finish line knowing you didn’t give up!” Josh said. “You are a fighter. You can do this…we only have a half mile left. Pain does not last forever.”

At this point, I was moaning and groaning Biggest Loser style.

I am only midly embarrassed…because number one, my dramatic cries probably made people laugh. And number two, that’s truly how I felt. 

A full marathoner ran flew by us and cheered us on, “Keep it up, guys!”

How incredible? This dude was fighting through 26.2 miles of his own, yet he took the time to inspire us!

Did I mention how much I love runners?

I asked Josh more questions. I learned his favorite color (blue), his least favorite food (goat cheese), and the number one thing he loves about his wife? Her smile.

“Man, her smile.” He said. “It could light up the world.”

My heart melted. He went on to tell me that they have three children, he loves beer, and they live in Broad Ripple.

At one point, I wanted to stop again.

“Just let me stretch,” I said. “I don’t stop to walk. Just a stretch.”

I leaned near the sidewalk, but then I realized it was silly.

You are so darn close!!

Get on it, Ash!

“Ashley, we are so close,” Josh said. “You’re awesome. And I’m awesome. Tell me I am awesome.”

“You are awesome,” I said quietly and full of pain.

“I can’t hear you,” Josh said.

“YOU ARE AWESOME!” I yelled.

And he screamed out a loud cheer:“WHOAAA!”

We were both screaming.

And cheering on marathoners that passed us.

And eventually, we started rapping to “Get Low” by Lil Jon.

So yes, I was completey losing my mind.

But at the same time, it felt incredible.

“Finish line,” he said. “Ashley, the finish line is right around that corner.”

“Finish line,” I said quietly.

My body was on fire.

“Finish line,” I said a little louder.

“FINISH LINE!” I screamed.

We turned the corner and I saw the finish line.

“OMG YES! HERE WE ARE!” I shouted.

“WE ARE SO CLOSE!” I yelled again.

“WHOOAA!” Josh yelled.

I let out a few other yells, which got the crowd going and clapping. It was exactly what I needed.

The crowd was cheering and I heard someone yell, “Finish strong! You got this!”

“Let’s go for it, Josh!” I said.

And we took off sprinting toward the finish line. I literally gave it everything I had inside of me to cross that finish line.

On a scale of 1 (being least awesome) to 10 (being most awesome),
I felt like a million.

And at that moment, I became a runner.

Once I crossed, I heard Justin and my mom yelling for me.

Someone handed me a thermal tarp thing.

“Do you want a cookie?” a little girl asked me.

“OMG YES!” I said.

Someone gave me a hat.

A woman wrapped a medal around my neck and said, “Great finish. You should be very proud of yourself!”

Bless her…
I ran up to Josh and thanked him for everything. At that moment, I realized he was my guardian angel. My grandpa really was with me on the course all morning.

And he sent me Josh.

We finished in 3:03:54, which is 14 minutes better than my last half marathon!!!

I gave Josh a giant hug.

“You’re the reason I finished that last mile,” Josh said. “I can never thank you enough.”

I will never forget Josh and the final mile we shared. We both fought through the pain, sleet, and self-doubt to run to that finish line.

My Mile 12 warrior.

It’s true.

Runners really are the most amazing, courageous, and wonderful people in the world.

Later that day, I text Josh Dials (must be the name Josh) and said:

“You really are my hero 🙂 – fan-freaking-tastic job today!!!!”

And his reply…well, let’s just say it took my runner’s high to a whole new level:

“And you are mine!”

All smiles from Team Iasta: Chad, Melissa, Kelly, Me, and Josh Dials.
Congrats to all of you, and everyone else who completed 13.1 or 26.2 yesterday!

Much love,

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