i halfed a marathon: part ii

11:53 PM

Remember how my iPod broke

This led to two problems.

First, my iPod is my watch. No, I do not have a smart phone (we've been over this before...) so I don't have the capability of listening to music on my mobile device (which could also be a watch... in case you didn't get the connection there. and you thought I was just using that as an excuse to complain about my phone again. Think again, haters). When the iTouch broke just a week before the race, I was trying to figure out a solution to the watch problem. But then I was all, who needs a watch? so I made the best decision: I didn't time myself.

What? You're judging me? Oh, sorry, I didn't know you came here to criticize.

This was my first long race, guys. I hadn't even run this much before in my lyyyyyfe. I still had goals, though. My primary goal was to A) FINISH, and 2) RUN THE WHOLE TIME. I psych myself out way too easily, running is just a mental game that I can't beat. I didn't want to worry about the clock. I didn't want the pressure of keeping up a pace, because I knew that as soon as I started to slow down, I'd have a mental breakdown and all of them old lady half-marathoners behind me would be running through my TEARS. Because I'm a PANSY. 

I just wanted to feel good the whole time. Is that too much to ask? And really, I was running 13 miles. That's more than your average Joe.

Second problem, I now had no music. This was NOT a compromise I was willing to make, because two hours listening to nothing but the devil in my brain would be awful. I borrowed my mom's iPod shuffle, which is more convenient for running anyway (no boob sweat to ruin technology).

I spent way too much time figuring out what stuff to put on my playlist. The shuffle was only 1GB, and my over-privileged 21st century brain couldn't fit all the songs I wanted into just 1GB of space. #firstworldproblems. Plus, I had to weed through my hipster-slanted iTunes library to get to the good running shiz. I don't know about you guys, but I am not hipster enough to work out to Mumford. Gimme some Nicki Minaj and Black Eyed Peas! Haters gonna hate, but don't try and tell me that working out to Super Bass isn't awesome.

I digress.

Well, during my two hour rest, I didn't want to listen to music. I probably would have if I had had my normal iPod, so I COULD relax to some Mumford or Death Cab. But the first time I did turn it on was five minutes before the gun.

And then it didn't work.

And then I freaked out for a solid two minutes at the starting line.

I guess while spending so much time making a playlist, I should have figured out if the iPod would actually work. DON'T GIVE ME THAT TONE, I MAKE MISTAKES TOO. It would play one song, and then shut off. I've never used a shuffle before, so I am unfamiliar with all of its idiosyncratic tendencies. But I was seriously about to rip the earbuds out of my neighbor at the thought of TWO HOURS OF NOTHING.

However, after pressing ALL the buttons (namely the switchoffshuffle button), it started working. The shuffle just wouldn't shuffle, so I listened to each artist sequentially. To which I'm all, "Y U BE CALLED SHUFFLE IF YOU NO SHUFFLE?" but I wasn't about to figure out the problem with sixty seconds to blast off. So I just played the Guess-which-Arctic-Monkeys-song-comes-on-next-before-it-switches-to-Black-Eyed-Peas game.

So, like, whatever. At least I had something to listen to.

Each race is not only a test of endurance, but also a test of how much you played Frogger when you were ten. The beginning of the race is always super crowded. I mean, the whole duration of the race was crowded - there were over a thousand people in the half marathon alone - but the beginning always seems the worst. I had an effective strategy for staying at a respectable pace without a clock, though: I just chose people whose outfits I didn't like and then I passed them. So as I was weaving in and out of the crowd, I kept a look out for the next person dressed in a tiger suit, or a shirt with cheesy running saying on it ("my sport is your sport's punishment" GAG ME) and I bee-lined it past them. 

Guys, it was the perfect day for a run. I was worried that 6 am would also come with a cold front, but I ditched my expendable t-shirt within five minutes and tank-topped the whole rest of the race. Also, Provo Canyon is beautiful. Beautiful scenery is wasted on cars full of people who don't look out their windows. Just sayin'.

With the Human Frogger element and the preserving-energy-cuz-I'm-still-nervous element, I started off at a fairly slow pace (even slow for me). Then suddenly I was at the four mile marker, and was on the supersonic boom. I was feeling good. I picked up the pace a little. I stopped to tie my shoe once (and that was the only time I stopped). I didn't bother stopping for water until I had beaten five miles.

When seven miles had come and gone, I had reached Nirvana. I had never felt this good running in my entire life. Maybe it was my first experience with true runner's high. Maybe I had officially gone crazy. But whatever it was, I literally felt like I could fly.

I ran faster for three miles as we exited out of the canyon into the valley. I passed a bunch of people, and for the first time I knew that I was going to finish this race well.

Then mile 10 came and my body remembered that it was running. My hips hurt, my feet hurt, my head hurt, my spleen probably hurt. I was sick of running. There was a crowd gathered at the Riverwoods and I was about ready to collapse into the next person who shouted "Keep Going!" and then I'd be all, "WELL I'M YOUR PROBLEM NOW!"

But I kept going.

And a lot of people passed me.

I was running, crawling, fighting at a snail's pace. I had now arrived at the D-artists in my playlist, but I couldn't listen. I just felt the beat as it kept my feet going one in front of the other.

At Mile 11, I picked it up again. I could do it for 20 more minutes. Just two more miles...

I don't know how they can get away with it, but there is NO WAY IN HELL THAT LAST MILE WAS LESS THAN FOUR. They tricked us! All of us! The last 1.1 miles lasted longer than my Physical Science lecture class ever did. And that class was really boring, guys.

But despite the longevity, I pushed. And I pushed. I felt like I was sprinting, but I'm sure I had just climbed back to my normal 9 minute mile pace.

I crossed the finish line at 2:12:40

I learned two things from this half-marathoning experience (here I am getting all sappy, somebody grab the kleenex)

1. A marathon is not so far out of reach as it once was. This goal is now concrete. It's written down. I could do that race twice and live. Maybe.

2. The race was a whole lot more encouraging than discouraging. I saw 80-year-old men run the marathon. Pregnant women, fat women, fifteen-year-old kids, and tattooed army boeufs. There were grandchildren cheering on their grandparents. This wasn't a competition. This was a group of people who have dedicated a large part of their life to physical fitness. And I really admired them all. Sitting there, with my chocolate milk carton, I watched as marathoners crossed the finish line and I knew that this was the lifestyle I wanted. I don't just want to be a girl who runs, I want to be a runner.

I felt good. And I didn't know that I would feel good.

And now you feel like this:

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