A few weekends ago, I ran in the Hobble Creek Half Marathon near Springville. It was my first race of a distance longer than 3.1 miles, and I had not prepared very well.
When my running buddy, Jessica, and I got to the packet pickup and found out the buses were moving slow and we’d get to the starting line late, my stomach started churning – even more than it was already. Listening to the stories of Jessica and others waiting for the bus, I began to feel nauseous.
“What have I gotten myself into? And why didn’t I prepare better for this?” I kept asking myself those questions over and over and over again, feeling as if the rest of the morning could quite possibly be the end of me. This was because, why I say I didn’t prepare very well, I mean I really didn’t prepare very well.
I ran once or twice a week throughout the summer, never moving past the 6.5 mile mark – actually only got there once – and was never very consistent. My hydration consisted of drinking an extra water bottle the day before the race and fueling myself was over-sauced pasta the two nights beforehand. I didn’t get much sleep the night before the race – it was the first night of high school football and I was in the DNews office working on our prep coverage until after midnight – and was too unsettled to eat breakfast that morning.
Not much of a setup for a great race effort, right?
When I finally got to the freezing staring line, my buddy and coworker Dan Rasmussen was there, waiting to run with a big smile on his face. In spite of all the delays and what was ahead of us, he was having a great morning. He told me I was going to have a fabulous run and to just have fun, and, the most important piece of advice I received that morning, he said to just walk when I needed to. This was something I’d struggled with – should I try to run the whole thing or run nine minutes and walk one or …? I couldn’t decide which would be best.
He said, “When you get to a big hill, just walk. I totally wouldn’t even hesitate to do that.”
I ran on my own, through the trees, smelling campfires and dutch oven breakfasts – both of which made we want to trade in the race for some biscuits and gravy. I made it a little over 9.5 miles before I came to a hill I couldn’t tackle without walking. That in itself was a huge accomplishment for me, and what kept me walking and somewhat jogging the final three very hot and very flat miles.
I finished in 2:20. I laid in the grass, stretching my sore muscles and waiting for Jessica when Dan found me. He had finished with a personal best time of 1:37 and was 11th in his age group.
Looking back at race, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had thought it would be. I even liked it and might like to run another half in the near future. I will, however, train for the next one.