>The Middle Half, Round Two

> For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

–1 Timothy 4: 6-8

Last year, it was all about crossing the finish line, making it 13.1 miles without collapsing, cramping up or worse. Leading up to the Middle Half, my big concern was a stress fracture in a toe during late June and July that had thrown my training schedule off and left me concerned that while I had the endurance to run 13.1 miles, I wasn’t sure I had the stamina.

I finished last year in a time of two and a half hours. I was proud of the accomplishment.

This year, it was about improving, getting better, getting stronger, getting a bit faster. I knew I wasn’t going to make some huge quantum leap forward, shaving off half an hour. But I wanted to be a bit faster. I wanted to be a bit less sore when the race was done. I wanted to show myself it wasn’t a one-time thing. And I wanted to be able to eat a doughnut or two after the race and not worry about it. (Because let’s face it, we all have our own motivators….mine is a good Krispy Kreme or two every once in a while).

So, Saturday I lined up again and ran the Middle Half again. I was a lot more prepared this year mentally for it. Having done it last year, I knew I could do it this year. There were fewer surprise and I felt like I knew the course a bit better. I knew where my potential pitfalls were and it was easier to plan out things like where the water stations were and how to arrange my mix on my iPod for during the race. I also had a better idea of where to place myself in the starting group.

And so, it kicked off Saturday morning….early. And I did it. My time declined a bit and while I didn’t quite meet the overall goal I wanted, I was still eight minutes or so faster than last year (overall time: 2:21.36). I was less sore after the race (a combination of training, ibuprofen and a heating pad) and I felt good after I was done. It started off well as I wore my new UT long-sleeved running shirt (found it Friday at Target and was excited about it) and kicked off my run with one of the greatest songs in the entire universe, “Rocky Top.” If those two couldn’t motivate me and get me off to a good start, nothing would!

It was still a challenge and one I’m glad I did. I’ve made some improvements in my physical health but I’ve still got some things to work on (most of them related to the inability at times to resist the aforementioned Kristy Kremes). And I’ll probably be back for it next year. I’ve got some new ideas and goals for myself and the good thing is I’ve got a group of friends around me who will help me improve.

So, for the next day or so, it’s a lighter routine and then it’s back to it.

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