A personal initiative to live more appreciatively

Sunday, May 6, 2012

#158: The Long Branch Half Marathon

When you're running your 5th half marathon, your prerace attitude is not one of a novice. I realized today-- maybe because I was with someone running her inaugural half--  how different I felt from when I ran my first half. There were no overwhelming nerves, which was great, but there also wasn't an overwhelming excitement, which was kind of lame. That pattern existed in so many facets: I didn't neurotically check that I had everything I would need for the race, but I also wasn't anticipating the day as it approached, so the event was like a flash in the pan. My pacing was spot on and I knew exactly how to tackle the 13.1 miles, but I finished and that was it: race over. I was handed a medal and then weaved through the people waiting to pose with theirs, focused on getting my post-race snacks, and then I was out of there.

This is the reality of being a long distance runner and competitor for a few years: you settle into the sport, and the wisdom of your experience begets many benefits. But the allure and excitement of being new to it fades, and that's sad.

I've been thinking about this as my day has progressed. A few half-marathons ago this would have been "race day". Today it was just "a Sunday when I ran a half in the morning." I'm thankful for the normalcy, as that says so much about how far I have come and the commitment I have maintained in my running life. But it also highlighted to me that I want to combine the best of both worlds, that I want to find away to cultivate that excitement again. I know how to do it, and it's going to take a lot of work, but when I am on the starting line of my next half marathon with butterflies, it'll have been worth it.

That being said, a half marathon still has an amazing emotional impact on me. We arrived late due to traffic and I missed the official start. I jogged across the parking lot and squeezed between two barriers, falling in behind the last corral. Taking a cue from my cousin Kathleen I put Coldplay's "Every Tear Drop is a Waterfall" as my first song, and with its opening notes I took in what was happening around me. 6,000 people were off and running-- everyone at the culmination of an amazing personal achievement. I spotted a female spectator crying, obviously overwhelmed at the knowledge someone she loved was half marathoning (or at least, that's what I like to think that's what it was about.) Complete strangers had given Katelynn and I pins for our bibs when we didn't have any; hundreds of volunteers were giving up their Sunday mornings to hand out water and yell encouragements: a testament to well-intentions and the ultimate goodness that I believe exists in most people. A half, regardless of how exciting it might be, is an awesome event to be a part of, and I am thankful that I was a part of one today.

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