Running the Middle Half

A little over a year ago, I was less than two weeks away from participating in my fourth straight Middle Half Marathon when I tried to avoid tripping over the cat in the middle of the night and ended up with a fractured great toe.   The injury sidelined me from the event, but I made a promise to myself that I’d back out there in 2014.

That promise was fulfilled today when I completed 13.1 miles through beautiful Murfreesboro.*  And while it wasn’t a personal best or a record setting performance, I will still able to complete the course in a few minutes under the time I had  decided on in my mind.

* The course really is a scenic one and I really enjoy the various sites along the way as a nice distraction from the “Dear heavens, why did I decide to run 13.1 miles?!?)    I also like that the course loops back on itself a couple of times so you can see other runners who are in front of you and those behind you.    Seeing people you know who you can give a thumbs up to and who can give you one back is a treat.   That and I always respect the hell out of those people who finish in what I consider absurd amounts of time — like the runners who are tearing it to finish in an ninety or so minutes and are cruising to mile six while I’m settling into mile three and the heart of my iTunes playlist. 

I began running the Middle Half a few years ago when I completed an indoor triathlon and wanted something else big to test my overall fitness level, endurance and a big event to work toward.  As the bumper sticker and t-shirt say, “I run half marathons because I’m only half crazy” and I’ve determined that 13.1 miles is about the longest distance I want to run.**

** Unless being chased by a bear or doing some extraordinary to save the lives of small children.  Then, distance is out the window. 

I admire and respect those who can and do run more — even more so my friends who do IronMan competitions.   You have my undying respect and admiration, but I can honestly say the thought of doing an Iron Man just intimidates the heck out of me.  For one thing, it’s a huge commitment of training and planning.  For another, you’re not allowed to have any type of listening device out there on the course while running.  And really part of the fun of planning for a long run (for me anyway) is picking out a playlist and then adding and subtracting to it as the big day looms on there.

There are a lot of random thoughts that wander through your mind as you run 13.1 miles.    A lot of them aren’t unique to me, but some are.  I figured I’d share a few here.

  • There’s always a point at which I question my sanity in doing this and swear off ever running more than three miles in a row ever again.   This year, that didn’t really happen until the final mile and at that point I could see the end point looming on the horizon, which helped me put these thoughts aside.
  • No play list is complete without Rocky Top.  And preferably multiple versions (I’ve got the original, the UT band playing it and the dance mix in mine).  You can never have too much Rocky Top while running.   Early in the race, I like to pretend I’m running for a big TD as the Vols beat Florida or Alabama and the band is encouraging me onward and faster.
  • No matter how tired I am from running, signs promoting fandom of Alabama or Florida still annoy me.
  • Putting “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and the theme from “MASH” on your playlist may seem like a good idea at home, but when you’re out there running, having these songs come up isn’t as helpful as you might think.
  • Am I the only one who puts musical scores from my favorite movies and tv shows in the list?  You can’t go wrong with themes from various Star Trek shows and Doctor Who and I defy anyone to not put a John Williams musical cue or two on there and not given a boost.   The Superman theme or the Imperial March have given me a bit of a boost many times while out pounding out the miles.
  • While I have a certain time I’d like to finish in, I don’t get obsessed with it out on the course.  Yes, I use RunKeeper and it’s nice to look back and see how things unfolded.  But I feel like some of my fellow runners get too focused on how fast they’re doing or their pace and don’t take a moment to enjoy the run…or the scenery…or to savor how good that gulp of Gatoraide really was, even when you generally don’t like the lemon-lime flavor, but it’s all that you had and it could be be the BEST GATORAIDE ever!
  • No matter where I put certain songs in my list, they always come up at the moment I need them most.   The Mars Cheer by the UT band and certain songs by Casting Crowns and Poe.
  • Today was my first half marathon in rainy conditions and I found it ironic to listen to “I Sure Can Smell the Rain” and “Set Fire to the Rain” while running in the rain.
  • I respect family and friends who are willing to hug a runner at the end of an event.   I know that I wouldn’t want to hug me after I’d just run for close to two and a half hours…cause I stink.
  • The longest portion of the race is the walk back to your car once you’ve completed the course.

I’m sure there were others, but that will do for now.   I’m tired, my legs are sore and I need a nap.

But I’m glad I made it back.  Not sure what the future holds (again no Iron Man), but I may be back out there next year, ready to tackle 13.1 miles yet again.

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