So, ahhhh, errrr…. I have so much to say about running a half marathon that there’s no way I could chop it all up into 140 character nibbles. And since the world cannot possibly live without what I have to say about it, I have decided to blog about it. This is what all self-conscious thirty year-olds do, right?
It turns out that I read some blogs. I read a lot of blogs, really, considering I have an actual, no kidding, full time job. And on some of these blogs, there were people, and these people decided to run a half marathon. And I, as a full time non-runner, sat back and watched. And read. And decided I was happy with the occasional 5K I managed to do, and the yoga twice a week, and ignoring the badgering from my friend K, who kept emailing me registration information for this half marathon and that half marathon.
But I kept reading the blogs, right? And the idea, it kept rolling around back there, like a piece of steak caught between my teeth, and I couldn’t stop worrying it with my tongue until I finally move my ass off the couch to go floss it out. This idea of the half marathon, it was my personal piece of steak, you see, and eventually, I just had to floss it out. And so, kinda quietly, I decided I would run a half marathon.
This was a different kind of goal for me. Previously, my goals were more like: get a job. Find an apartment. Buy a house. Pay off this car. They were, in essence, non-goals. While they may have been trying, at times, or momentarily frustrating, they were never ACTUALLY out of reach. Chalk it up to my upper middle class, over educated, nerdfest of an upbringing, but these goals? I never considered that I might not accomplish them. In fact, I think I may have thought I was entitled to the positive outcome of these non-goals, and if I’m super incredibly honest, there hasn’t been any real evidence to the contrary (I have a job, I own a house, and the car is paid off).
Which is why deciding to run a half marathon at 33 was a completely different thing than I had ever considered before. There would have to be training. And the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to complete the training, or I’d get injured, or my toe would fall off, or any other number of apocalyptic, end-of-times scenarios I could imagine when thinking about just TRAINING for a half marathon. And then, once the training was finished, I’d actually have to run the motherfucking thing.
But I printed out a training schedule anyways, and picked a half marathon the approved time period away, and started running. Slowly. Oh dear god, so very, very slowly. And with stops to walk, or to engage in brutally negative self-talk, or to blame everything from the clearcutting of rainforests to the advent of the boy band on myself and my inability to run three miles.
And then, my foot started hurting. Going numb, and then tingling, and then sending shooting pains up my leg, until, I SHIT YOU NOT, my left labia got all pins and needly. Maybe it’s the shoes, I thought, and purchased a new pair of running shoes that made the problem worse. Still tingly. One doctor visit, a million x-rays, and a shitty physical therapy session, and still my foot tingled and went numb. For me, this was proof positive that not only was I not a runner, I was also incapable of picking a goal that was difficult an actually attaining it. There are no stops on my direct train to MOST DIRE CONSEQUENCES.
I went to another doctor (thank you, somewhat lenient health insurance policy), a runner of a doctor, and he gave me tiny little heel lifts to insert into my shoes. And lo and behold, problem solved. I must make an aside to say that the BEST THING any doctor can do for his or her patients is to take them seriously. This running doctor, he looked me in the eye and told me that a half marathon was far, but that I could do it. That I should train for the weather (I picked a race in Southern California, but am training in the wet wilds of Seattle), and remember to take ice baths after my long runs. He took me seriously as a runner, and that probably fixed my foot problem just as much as those foam heel lifts.
Then there was training, and more training. My definition of a short run morphed from “here to the car” to 5 miles. Saturdays became dedicated to long runs, and then recovering from them. I bought tights, and a GPS watch, and a water bottle holder, and the nastiest thing ever invented: Gu. And I ran, and I ran, and I ran some more, and LORD, did I bitch about it on Twitter.
But as race time got closer and closer, something strange happened. I STOPPED FREAKING OUT. I felt prepared, and whatever I didn’t feel prepared for, by the time I got to the starting line, there wasn’t much I could do about it anyways. And that? That was the most powerful feeling of the weekend. Better than crossing the finish line, better than the first time I ran 10 miles. Right there, seconds from starting my half marathon, I knew I could do it. I’d trained for months, I’d logged the miles, I’d laced up my shoes and gone out when I didn’t want to. This goal? It was already in the bag.