Now I realize running a race is not a fine art. In fact, they have little in common except for very delayed gratification and the fact that I do both. But I ran my first race this past weekend and I’m excited to talk about it :) My first day of training was on February 18th. I did 1.8 miles of a run/walk as my first step towards marathon training. I was at a point where 1.8 miles seemed like a lot and I certainly could not run the whole time and ended up walking quite a bit of it. 5 months later, I’m able to run 13.1 miles. This is super exciting to me and I’m proud of how far I’ve come :) So here’s a little guide I put together for those of you who would like to run a half marathon just like me.
THE DAY BEFORE
Attend the expo, have a good looking guy check your gait, watch the Jesus Lizard walk across water in some Brooks shoes, take some goofy pictures and pretend you’re a super athlete. Your little sister is running the mini, so have her pose silly too.
Eat a steak and baked potato dinner. You meant to check what a runner is supposed to have prior to race morning, but now it’s 6pm on Saturday, you’ve had a long day and so you’re just going to eat what’s available. Plus, you’re afraid that if you check, you’ll find out you can’t have this steak, and you really want this steak.
You meant to go to sleep at 8pm, but it’s already 10:30pm. You feel unprepared and nervous. For someone who likes to be prepared even for the smallest excursions, this makes you even more nervous and now you really cannot fall asleep. You consider skipping the race altogether. But no, you announced it. You. Will. Run. Prepare your stuff. Force sleep.
Your alarm does not go off at 4:30am. But you set six other alarms, so don’t worry, you’re up at 4:40am.
Again, you have a vague recollection of what you read you’re supposed to eat for breakfast. But at this point, it’s too late to double check. Eat a mix of granola bars, yogurt, banana and drink tea and gatorade. That sounds right, right? Leave the house by 5:05am.
Head to the almost last corral because you are an amateur and this is your first race. Expect the people there to look really unfit. But no, they look fit. And they look intimidating. Do some pretend stretches because that’s what runners do. Take some pictures.
Start the race off feeling great, but terrified you may need to make use of those emergency tents because you may pass out. You’d really rather not.
Grab water from volunteers, realize you are feeling so focused and anxious that you’re being a jerk and didn’t even say thank you. Make mental note to thank every other person who showed up super early to help you and cheer you on. Also, thank the people who are outside with their hoses and make it a point to run in front of anyone who is willing to spray you with water.
Follow the shirtless guy in spandex shorts screaming “look at all the hot women!” “this is your day!” and “cool those hot bodies!” You would be slightly offended if an older man in spandex were yelling these things at you any other day, but this seems like an ok day for this sort of thing. In fact, you wish he ran at the same pace so you can keep him throughout the whole race. But alas, you are TOO FAST because you are strong and fit and a runner. (Or he is, you really don’t know. Everything kind of hurts and you can’t keep track of your new friends anymore.)
Try to calculate desperately what amount a 5k, 10k and 20k is, but realize that you are not in the mental state of doing math. It doesn’t matter, you’ve been running forever now, you must be far.
High five the little girl on the side of the road, because she wants a high five, but really, you’re the one that needs a high five from someone.
Keep going strong and confident, unaware of which mile you’re at or how much time has passed, until the well meaning lady yells, “You’re more than half way done, you’re at mile 7!” Although she was trying to encourage you, you are now upset with her because she has crushed any delusion you may have had about maybe already being at mile 9 or 10 or 11…
Thank the universe for compelling you to run right before you pass your two biggest chearleaders, the only people who would wake up at 4:30am for you, your sister and your mom. Appear slightly cocky and run past them, accepting their wet washcloth but then running away super fast, pretending like you weren’t walking just before you rounded the corner and saw them.
Get discouraged until about mile 9, at which point, get really tired thinking that you have another good 45 minutes of running to go. Then start going really fast once you realize you just ran 9 MILES! You can do anything!
After a couple minutes of going really fast, realize you just ran 9 miles and your body really can’t run that fast anymore at this point. Walk it out. Scoff at anyone running past super fast.
Eat one of those nasty gels that the volunteers hand you. Strawberry banana goop that almost makes you gag. But you’re a trooper. You got this.
You don’t. You grab some water to wash that taste out of your mouth.
Make yourself feel good by weaving through the crowd of runners, passing by some people. Make yourself feel bad by realizing that you now need to walk a little and the people you passed are now passing you.
Hope that after the next hill or after the next turn, the finish line will appear in front of you. In fact, you’re hoping that it will also be moving in towards you, like a boyfriend or puppy who hasn’t seen you in weeks. But no, no one’s waiting for you past the hill and no one is running towards you. In fact, there are hundreds of people still running away from you.
Kindly decline the pretzels that are being offered to you. You are much to tired to process any solid food. Also you have a flash of that food going down the wrong pipe. You can’t choke at this point in the race. You’ll eat once you’re done. You’re only at mile 11.
Try to run past any photographers you see. Try to make it look fast and effortless.
You see the finish line. And although you promised yourself you’d run towards it, you walk a little before you run. You just can’t. And you don’t want to pass out until after the finish line.
Walk through the finishers ‘tent’, grab everything they can give you. Make sure to get a medal. Picture. Peaches. Banana. Jamba Juice. Water. Gatorade. Popsicle. Granola bar. You deserve all this and more! You can no longer grab anything, your hands are full. A man working on cleaning up the area tries to take your Gatorade and peaches. You kindly ask him to give it back. He does not speak English. You hand motion and get your goods back. It’s ok to exit.
You paid to track yourself, because you’re into instant gratification, so you know you finished in 2:33:15.
You are super impressed with yourself, super proud and super tired. Take some pictures.
Go home and take a long nap.
Next stop 26.2 on October 7. Back to training.
Next year’s challenge… triathalon? ;)