Running My First Half Marathon


IVS Half Marathon

IVS Half Marathon (Photo credit: midwestnerd)

 

STANDING IN A CROWD of almost 4,000 runners, I shook my legs, hopped in place, and bit back waves of panic. That’s what everyone says you’re supposed to do with panic–bite it. You wallow in praise, cool your temper, gird your strength, but panic extrudes like doughy ropes from invisible portals that you have to nip off with your front teeth before they engulf you in giant debilitating wads. It was a few minutes before 8:30 a.m., and I was about to attempt the first 13.1-mile run of my life. While strangers on all sides bumped lightly against my shoulders, I lifted my head and closed my eyes and tried to picture the finish line–visualize the finish line, that is. You bite panic and you visualize finish lines. If you can. Though I had visited and looked it over less than 12 hours prior, in the moments before the race I could barely recall what it looked like. Then I remembered we were promised an arch with fire at the end of the course. Fire I could visualize. And so I thought with a starry burst of excitement–I’ll run until I go through the fire.

 

Talkers talk and walkers walk. Although walkers occasionally talk, talkers almost never walk, and they certainly don’t run half-marathons. After almost four years of consistent running, I had become a talker. In a wild week of random optimism, I’d impulsively announced in the pages of this magazine and to almost everyone I knew that I was ready to tackle a half-marathon. Before you’ve ever run or even begun training for a half, it’s easy to talk about “tackling” one. Inevitably, you realize both real and metaphorical tackling of any kind are thoroughly useless. You realize early on that you must run a half-marathon plain and true, leave the helmet at home and tackle nothing. (Bite panic, visualize finish lines, run half-marathons.) When people asked what half I planned on doing, I’d tell them it wasn’t important which one I chose. Important was that I’d finally decided to talk about tackling one.

 

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