I mean, it happens to the best of us, right? You go out for a light jog, you make a wrong turn, and a couple hours later you end up back home with your Fitbit telling you you just did 20,000 steps. Right?
Maybe not, but that’s basically what happened to 12-year-old LeeAdianez Rodriguez, of Irondequoit, NY, during Rochester’s Flower City Half Marathon this past Sunday. After showing up later than planned, Lee joined what she thought was the group of runners starting the Wegman’s Family 5K on Rochester’s Broad Street Bridge while her mother, Brendalee Espada parked the car nearby.
As it turned out, Lee was early—the 5K wasn’t set to begin for another fifteen minutes. The group she had actually joined was the Flower City Half Marathon, a fact she only discovered four miles into the run, when she asked a fellow runner how long the race was going to be.
“She said it was about thirteen miles,” she told Mashable, “so that’s when I realized I think I was in the wrong group.”
Here’s the kicker: she kept going. The kid knew she was running a half marathon, entirely untrained, and kept running!
“I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like, time froze. I was like, ‘I’m going to finish this.’” And she did finish, two hours and forty-three minutes after she started, coming in 1,885th of 2,111.
What about her mother, parking the car? Oh yeah, she was panicked. “She gave me a really big scare,” she told the Democrat & Chronicle. After Lee didn’t show up at the 5K finish line, Espada searched for her daughter in the crowd for nearly two hours, even enlisting the help of race officials and local police officers. Finally, a few miles from the finish line, they located Lee, who insisted on finishing what she’d started.
“She just wanted to finish the race,” Espada said. “Two hours after I started looking for her, I see that one of the officers found her. And I see she has a medal…It was such a scary moment, but rewarding for her in the end. I don’t even know how she did it. I’m so proud of her.”
Lee celebrated her dogged completion of the half-marathon with food, a nap, and a hike (because apparently THIRTEEN MILES wasn’t enough for her.) And she’s not done running yet—she plans to do the Color Run with her mother next.
“But this one? We’ll run it together at the same pace,” her mother said. “Even if she wants to run ahead, she’s staying with me.”