Well, I did it. I finished. I set the goals for myself. I trained myself. I worked hard. I ran when it was cold, when I was tired, when I didn’t want to, when I did. I ran and pushed myself, and it paid off big time. Here’s how it went down. Race starts. I let a lot of people go in front of me, because I wanted to avoid having my momentum stalled up front. So, I waited a minute or two, then started (your time doesn’t start until you cross an electronic stripe that communicates to a chip they give you, so waiting doesn’t hurt your time). And I passed SO MANY PEOPLE!!! I was weaving in and out of the group. I settled in the middle for a few moments, just to feel the feeling of running in a pack like that. Seeing everyone running was just great. So, yes, passing people all over the place for the first 20 minutes or so. And I’m thinking, are you kidding me? This is awesome.
Well. Then you settle in. And your pace slows. Or at least mine did. And let me tell you, after that first big push of mine, I passed ONE person the entire rest of the time. One. How many people passed me are untold and innumerable. It was constant. And I got worried. At times, I had to turn off my iPod and regroup, because I felt like I was going so slow, I thought, oh no, did I train enough? Mind games… they’ll kill you. Also, I read the mile markers in the most cynical way (and to be fair, they were not clear. Had I completed mile 5? Or was this the start of mile 5? So the entire race, I thought I was going slow, with the mile markers and the getting passed. In the middle of it all, I thought, you know, maybe I should just give up. Go slow, finish the race, never look at the time, and just leave. Try again next time. Or don’t. I thought I had failed. I thought, there’s no way I’m on pace to do it in under two hours, even though all my training told me that was totally feasible.
Then, with 2.2 miles to go, I looked at my watch. 18 minutes. Oh boy. It would take a very strong effort to do this. Less than a 9 minute mile, when I’ve been running slow. And then I thought, I’m here, I’m running, when am I going to run another half marathon? Not for a while, I know that. Am I really going to let this slip away? And I battled with myself. And I picked up my pace, and it hurt, and I was tired, and more people were passing me.
So, I move past the mile marker for mile 26 (which is for the full marathon runners) so I knew I had 1.2 miles left. I came around a bend and thought, let’s move it, Jason. Move your ass. Except…what’s that? That’s the finish line 0.2 miles away. I had read the mile indicators as if I was a mile behind the entire race.
There is a feeling I want to talk about now. I felt it in basketball my senior year of high school. It is a feeling of awareness. Awareness that a dream or goal is about to become a reality. It is about to exist and be, and it is yours. And I will tell you, for that last 0.2 miles, I ran with more joy and heart and love than I’ve ever run with. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:51:17 which comes out to just under 8 1/2 minutes per mile. 8 1/2… fitting. I placed 218th out of over 850. As a wonderful surprise, my mom showed up to watch me finish. Hint: It’s always better to have someone there for you.
I went to Chicago for Thanksgiving. I ran by the lake a few times, and it was amazing. I ran when I went to California last summer. I ran all through downtown Toronto in September. And when I was in London a year ago, I ran through its busy streets while its inhabitants made their way to work. And now I have completed a half marathon in my hometown of Kansas City. There is something about running in places that ties you to them, I think. It’s a chance to meet them and talk with them and experience them without any sort of plan. You’re not going somewhere, you’re just…going. You’re just running. There is nothing like it, I’m telling you.