Monday, April 30, 2007

My First Half Marathon

I still can't really believe it actually happened.
The idea of running the Music City Marathon dates back to my first visit to Nashville on spring break junior year with Meesh. I heard about this marathon where they have country music bands every mile and thought, "I will do that sometime in my life."

Flash forward to the fall of 2006 and watching the NYC Marathon and all my friends and I are inspired to run. Seeing marathons has that effect on you. Though I don't suppose that running them has a similar effect...
But anyhow, we decided to run the Nashville Half Marathon, rekindling my desire. But you know how these things go... everyone talks about something and everyone gets excited, but then reality sets in, winter sets in, bills arrive, and some of the flame fizzles. But not so much in the world of Liz Spangler... the burning desire continued and I just made the decision to do it.

Flash forward to this past weekend, and Gretchen and I, in addition to my college friend Steve McClean (who came up from Louisville) and college roommate Sally (who came up from Memphis with her friends to do it) did it. We ran a half marathon in Nashville. 13.1 miles. Joining us were our groupies, Alexandria and Emily. And oh what weekend it was.

So basically there is a LOT to recap from the weekend trip to Tennessee, and I think several blogs will be written to cover it all. But give the late hour, my still-packed suitcase, undone laundry, and the fact that I am leaving for Paris in less than 48 hours, some of the stories will have to wait. And yes, there are pictures. In short, the race went well. I feel that a half marathon is something that is challenging but not so overwhelming that you kind of want to shrivel into the fetal position just thinking about it (ie, how I think about marathons right in this moment, after having run a mere 50% of the distance). I'm a big fan of "visualizing" my race, as taught to me by my high school XC race. Running is about 90% mental, and if you have your head screwed on tight, you're bound to be more successful. It was always a little game for me to try and predict my race time down to the second. Now, with a 5K that is somewhat "reasonable," but I didn't really know if it would be plausible with a half marathon. My general goal was to do it in under 2 hours. My specific time (since they ask on your race application) was 1 hour, 57 minutes, and 6 seconds. Ok, so granted I forgot that a half marathon is 13.1 miles, so that was my calculation for 13 miles. I came through the 13 mile mark at 1 hour, 57 minutes, and 9 seconds. Talk about a successful visualization!! I was pretty pumped. Well, I was pretty pumped after I got done being really exhausted and was able to check my mile splits on my watch and realize how (nearly) exact I had been. Good times.

So I ran the first 8 or so miles with Steve. Now, for those of you who don't know Steve... ahhhh, where to begin? Steve is a fun guy... a quirky guy... an... energetic guy. Whereas for me, at 7am I am really quite content to run in silence, take in the sights of Nashville and focus on basic tasks such as breathing, Steve's form of motivation involves mostly all things audible. Songs. Claps. Clapping while singing. Having people on the sides throw him apples which he somehow manages to catch while running. Singing Penn fight songs when we run by someone with a Penn shirt on. Booing Princeton when we run by someone with a Pton shirt on. And basically all around hilarity. I'm pretty sure a large part of the reason I didn't die during the race was because of Steve and his many distractions. The bands every mile were an added bonus.

And yes, it was fun, it was hard, it was mentally challenging, exhausting, and all at once invigorating... one moment feeling victorious and strong, and the next feeling like I couldn't take another step. And then praying and giving it all to God, fully knowing nothing in my strength could get me through those 13 miles. It was, in short, one of the coolest things I've ever done. And I'm already looking forward to my next half, and potentially a full... we'll see. But for now, I think I'll take a few days off and just... sit. Yes, that sounds very nice indeed.

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