Tomorrow, I’m running my fourth half-marathon in Charlottesville, Virginia. While that sounds kind of insane to the average person, the truth is–running these kinds of races is one of the best things I’ve done for myself in college. And you read that right; it’s something you do for yourself
On the verge of my race tomorrow, it’s making me think about why running these races is so amazing and challenging. And why every young person can and should run one. Each of these examples is definitely something that has happened to me, in some context–the ridiculous, the embarrassing, and the awesome alike.
On the one side, a half-marathon is 13.1 miles of:
3.trouble breathing aka sucking wind
4.having to go o the bathroom at least once and being pissed you didn’t before the race
6. brutal hills
8.being left alone with your own torturous thoughts telling you that you can’t finish
9. CHAFING (awful.)
10. being passed by people left and right and thinking you’re slow as hell
11. dropping your entire water cup on your shirt instead of in your mouth
12. doing this with gatorade and being sticky for the rest of the race
13. being able to see the finish line and having to run a 2 mile loop back (curse you, Nike Women’s Half in DC)
14. having that old ankle injury or IT band trouble start to twinge around mile 9 and hoping you won’t have to walk
15. having to tie your shoes
16. not having enough energy to wipe the sweat off your face
17. having marathoners pass you even though they’re running twice the distance
18. missing your family or friends who are trying to cheer for you and not getting that extra boost
19. wondering if you look like a kangaroo on heroine in photographs
20. realizing your socks are not fitting right and that a blister is gradually forming getting worse with every step
21. just hauling yourself a long ass distance.
However, running a half-marathon is also 13.1 miles of:
1.time for yourself
2. meeting really cool strangers
3. realizing the true value of water and food at fuel stations
4. being thankful for amazing volunteers
5. being thankful for incredible fans and their inspirational signs
6. the guy that pulls his car out to the side of the road at 7:30am to play music for you as you pass.
7. finding your stride
8. thinking about life
9. feeling the strength of your legs
10. marveling at the power of the human body
11. seeing a stranger with a prosthetic leg and an 80 or so year old man pass you
12. realizing that you have a great thing going in this life, and if you don’t, that maybe you should do something about it
15. sweaty palms
16. banana craving and then eating that banana as soon as you finish
17. strangers thinking you’re their hero
18. passing that girl who dusted you at the starting line with a mile to go
19. crossing the half-way mark
20. seeing the 13 mile sign and kicking in your last bit of adrenaline for a sprinting finish
21. getting a shiny medal and nice t-shirt and loads of free food and maybe even a free beer if you’re extra lucky
22. having the excuse of having just ran a race when you look pathetic on the stairs for the rest of the weekend
23. the glorious pain of ice baths
24. planning for your next race
25. becoming addicted to racing.
There’s obviously a lot more that fits into either column, because a race is really personal. Maybe you won’t look like a kangaroo on heroine; you might look like a koala on crack. Or maybe you’re extremely photogenic during races and everyone else hates you.
But the first thing to realize is that it’s definitely do-able. If you enjoy running at all and you could finish about 6 miles today, you could get to half-marathon shape in no time. Hell, I barely trained for this race anyway.
Need advice on half marathons or want to make a comment? Shoot me an e-mail or comment here. I’m no pro, though! (: