It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of April. I’m not really sure where the time has gone, but the end of April means one thing to me: the Greer Half Marathon is this weekend. This weekend? What? You mean I’m actually going to have to do this??? For some reason, “big” races (where “big” means either “important,” like Conference; “intimidating,” like the Drake Relays; or “long,” like my first attempt at a half marathon) are always accompanied by a form of denial on my part. I have no problems working towards them, but it’s easiest when they appear as distant goals and not inevitable realities. Somehow, I’m always shocked that training for and registering in a race always leads to the race itself. Hmm. In the past, being reminded by the passage of time that yes, I will have to do this signified that in the week leading up to the event I would have to cope with ever-increasing levels of panic, only to be dispelled when the gun goes off and the race is underway.
Fortunately, this kind of emotional disturbance is no longer the norm. Races are no longer “important” or “intimidating” in the ways they used to be. Races are now vacations from the ordinary; opportunities to step out of routine and my accustomed training grounds. The feeling of denial being shattered in the face of reality is still there. I suppose it’s too ingrained to fade away. It is followed more by a sense of curiousity, however, than by absolute panic. I’m free from worrying about how my performance will affect a team, so instead I’m merely curious to see how I handle 2 hours on the road. I’m most curious about the last 3 miles…the first 10 will be cautious, run in a holding pattern in an attempt to evade the mid-race depression brought on by an overly-optimistic pace. The first 10 are (hopefully) automatic…the real question is, will I have enough left to make a move?
This is what I think about as I count down to race day. Even though I like to think of myself as an experienced runner, racing this kind of distance is new territory for me. I can’t really predict how it’s going to go, but the best advice I can give myself is to be patient and run smart. There will be plenty of time for anything in 13.1 miles.