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My Half Marathon: A Break From Reality

Today was the Des Moines Marathon and Half MarathonI showed up at the line today overweight, undertrained, injured and violating the #1 principle of racing - wearing new shoes, socks and my least favorite pair of tights.   Doesn'tImg_0760  that beginning sound like the perfect storm for a crappy race? 

But even so, I was giddy thinking about the half today.  You know it is my favorite distance so that brought part of the excitement.  But more than just the event, I was treating this race as a wonderfully, fully selfish few hours for myself.  It has been crazy around my house the last few months and I could tell that I was in dire need of a few brainless hours all to myself.   Last week when my friends asked me what I expected to run, I told many that I hoped it would take me hours and hours to finish.  The longer the better!

They would look at me so perplexed.  I know what they were thinking - "aren't you supposed to want to finish as fast as possible?"   And in my 50 or so other races that has been a goal.  But today, I wanted a chance to breath deep, take in my favorite songs, sweat a little, meet some inspiring people and lose myself in the middle of 7,000 other runners.

Img_0764 Today was about the other side of running.  The side that doesn't care about splits, pacing, PR's, gear, racing or past runs.  This is the side of running where you run for yourself - like you want to - and enjoy the simple of act of running.   The side of running where you do only one thing at a time in a repetitive, almost meditative fashion.  Just right, left, right, left, right, left.  That's it - no higher expecatation of it.   It's running at your internal "cruise control" speed that requires what seems like no significant energy.  And it's running as an escape.  An escape from the nonstop family calendar, laundry, dishes, errands, sick kids, work stuff and chores.   This is the side of running that gives you a 3 hour spirtual retreat to recenter yourself and at only the cost of a Tshirt and medal.

In the novel, Once A Runner, there is a passage where the runner describes the "orb of running" you enter into when running.  It is like time stands still.  It feels like you live many life times in the span of a few hours.   That is the side of running that I live for.   The god given gift to escape for only a few hours but emerge on the other side like you have retreated to another land in your head for days or weeks.

In my vacation from reality, at about mile 3, I ran into a running acquaintanImg_0766ce from Dam to  Dam.  Remember Brian - the guy who lost alot of weight but kept finding new ways to push himself?  He was out there today - with a goal of finishing the half today and the marathon next year.   He finished the half in a faster time than the Dam to Dam 20K in June.  Fantastic!  And at mile 10 I made a new friend who was my soul mate.  She runs to eat more, loves tri's and du's and used colorful language alot about many things.   We pushed each other the last three miles.   There were countless other inspirations along the way.

I also met RazzDoodle in person - very cool!  And saw our friend Bowulf, as he led the 2:10 pace group, and Dennis - who brought in a very speedy PR.   A special thanks to Tom who sacrificied his rarely free Sunday morning to come out before the start and stay through my finish.   You are a good friend. 

All in all - a fabulous day!  Time wise, it was my slowest 1/2 marathon ever (by 20 seconds), but it felt like my best.  I did the race completely within myself and very easily - which tells me I still have a little speed left in me.  If I can just find a little time to bring it out someday soon...

Post race, I went straight from the finish line to the beer line. You gotta' love these races - when else is it acceptable to stand in the middle of downtown, smelly and gross, in need of a shower, on a Sunday morning drinking free beer?!?!   

But after my beer and chatting with Tom, it was time to head home.  As I reeented my reality at home, facing an afternoon of grocery shopping, laundry, kids homework, pumpkin carving, chores and more, I gotta' tell you...my only thought was...damn, I wish I had run the marathon.   I would still be out there enjoying the other side of life and running.

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Comments

pat monahan

great post. I like my training runs when I just lose track of time and get into the run. It never happens enough.

MCM Mama

Oh, yeah, I totally love those runs when I leave Garmin and the kids at home and just run. And at least half the reason I run races instead of just running by myself, is that it gives me an excuse to have a morning by myself or just with some of my IRL runner friends.

Glad it was an enjoyable race for you!

Topher

Sounds like a great morning! So what was your time? Or did you run so relaxed that they closed the course?

Nat

Oh I loved this post. :)

I love those lost afternoons mid-20k...

Run For Life

Fabulous post, I'm glad you enjoyed the half so much!

Amy

Topher,

I love the DSM course - they stay open however it long it takes the last runner to finish.

But, today - for a change, the last runner wasn't me.

I finished up in 2:27 and change.

Jamie

Fantastic post and congrats on a great run. I absolutely love getting lost in runs!

AndrewE

Oh man that sounds so nice. :)

Nancy

Oh man, I'm SO glad you had a great morning. I was thinking about you so much. You know how badly I wanted to be out there. Although 2:27 would probably kill me dead right now. :D Instead, I raked leaves and leaves and leaves and I'm probably just as sore as if I'd run!!

Glad you had fun!

Jess

Congrats on your race! I'm glad you had fun! That's what's most important!

runjess

Congrats, Amy! What a wonderful thing when you can want a run to take as long as possible.

Ben

We watched "Spirit of the Marathon" on Saturday night, and they have a little bit of a talk by John "The Penguin" Bingham. He says that everyone paid the same to enter the marathon (or in your case, the half) so the people who are out on the course longest get the most for their money. So what's the hurry.

I got my money's worth, that's for sure!

Database Diva

At least you weren't overweight, undertrained and injured at the start of the race. I loved this post, and will try my best to think about it next month if I go through with the half in San Antonio.

Nitmos

Congratulations. And the way you describe the fun you had, it sounds like you WON the race. That's great!!

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