The morning dawned, dark and way too early for a Saturday morning. However, if I wanted to eat a good breakfast before my half-marathon, the 6 AM wake-up was necessary. Anticipation continued to build as the morning progressed. Questions burst through my mind: Do I want gloves? Should I double my socks? Will I need sunscreen? Never mind the fact that I have run half-marathons before…the pre-race jitters still appear every time.
The race itself was perfect—cool and crisp at the start, then warm enough for just a t-shirt after the first 3 miles. With my iPod and the ongoing saga of Adventures in Odyssey keeping me company, the miles melted away. I ended up passing two runners who had been slightly ahead of me all race at about mile 8, and then I was on my own for the next stretch. Keeping my pace steady, I soaked in the beauty of the river, the blue sky, the breeze against my skin, the sounds of nature surrounding me.
With 2 miles left, I glanced at my watch and decided to pick up the pace. There’s something crazy about the body’s ability to push its limits. My strides lengthened, reaching for just a little more ground each time. The sound of my footfalls seemed to coincide with my heartbeat. The mental battle began. I was starting to feel the miles. But no matter—the finish line beckoned. As I passed the last mile marker, I sped to almost a sprint. And then, just like that, it was over.
My family came to cheer me on at the finish, and I got a free meal, compliments of the race. The sunshine, which has the ability to make even the worst of days better, only augmented the joy of the day.
It’s always odd after a race because it means that the weeks of training are over. Now for the next challenge…I’m not sure yet what it will be. Maybe that’s the beauty of life: one challenge leads to another, and we can either choose to embrace the challenges or shy away from them. I, for one, choose to take on these challenges wholeheartedly. So, what’s next?
Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana, and Betsy at Two Writing Teachers for creating a place for writers to share their work and hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!