The video footage of me running the Rex Healthcare Half Marathon amounts to about 20 seconds. Here’s what it doesn’t show.

3 minutes before race time

I take off my warm-up pants and every hair on my legs stands at attention. It’s 31 degrees.

100 Yards-ish

Although my iPod ear buds are in, I haven’t pushed play on my iPod Shuffle. I think I hear a baby buffalo stampede. Then I realize that it’s really just the sound of more than 3,000 pairs of sneakers beating the road. It’s not quite as cool as buffaloes in North Carolina, but it’s still kinda’ neat.

Mile 1

Timex split: 9.08. This puts me right on pace to accomplish my goal of finishing the race in less than 2 hours.

Mile 1.2-ish

I see a barefoot runner. Not only is he passing me, he looks like he’s having more fun than me. I consider ditching my Mizunos on the side of the road. Then I imagine how freezing cold asphalt will feel. I decide to keep running. Like a normal person.

Mile 2

Timex split: 8.24.

Mile 2.5-ish

I start to see why it’s worthwhile to run a race I’ll never win. I’m running on the yellow lines of a carless city street. The traffic light above me is red but I’m still going. I feel like I own the road. (Even though there is a sea of runners as far as I can see in both directions.)

Mile 4

Timex split: 17.30. That probably seems like a long time, but it’s for 2 miles. I missed the Mile 3 marker. Also, I slow down as I near the first water station. It’s right next to one of my favorite Irish pubs. I hope that the cup I receive from a volunteer is full of Guinness. It’s not. Just water.

Mile 5-ish

I run past my own personal pit crew, consisting of Carie and my parents, who would probably want you to know that they were almost pulled over by a police officer for sneaking their way onto the course in my mom’s minivan.

Mile 6.5-ish

I’ve been running at the exact same pace as the woman in front of me for about half a mile. I start to realize that it’s probably because I’ve been staring at her butt for about that long.

Mile 6.51-ish

I wonder if Carie will be mad when she reads this.

Mile 6.52-ish

I decide that she would probably be looking at this lady’s butt, too, along with other guys’ butts.

Mile 6.53-ish

I start to wonder if anybody’s looking at my butt.

Mile 6.54-ish

I figure I should probably concentrate less on the rumps of the road and more on the bumps of the road. I pass the butt lady.

Mile 7

Timex split: 26.01. Yep, you guessed it. My wandering eyes missed not one but two mile markers this time.

Mile 8-ish

I hawk a loogie directly into a gust of wind. My right sleeve is covered in gooey saliva. A nearby onlooker gives me a disapproving look as I wipe it off with my left hand.

Mile 9

Timex split: 16.50. I’m going much faster than I’d planned.

Mile 10

Timex split: 8.11. I look at my overall time. With only 3 miles left, I’m at 1:25.49. I realize that if I average 8-minute miles, I can finish 10 minutes faster than my goal. I decide to go for it.

Mile 11

Timex split: 7.46. I’m right on track to finish under 1:50.

Mile 11.5-ish

I remember that there’s one more long uphill stretch. Crap. Plus, I realize that I wasn’t accounting for that extra tenth of a mile when I decided to change my goal midrace. I decide I better pick up the pace.

Mile 12

Timex split: 8.04. Not bad, considering most of it was uphill.

Mile 12.8-ish

I can see the finish line. I look at my watch. I’ve got about 90 seconds. I sprint a few yards and look at my watch again. Time seems to be going faster but I don’t seem to be getting any closer to the finish line.

Mile 13-ish

I look at my watch again before realizing that I need to stop looking at it and run faster. Except I feel like I’m going to throw up. But I’ve got to do this.

Finish Line

I punch the Timex’s stop button. Never have I been so excited to see a stopwatch reading. It says 1:49.59. (Later, I learn that my official time was 1:49.53.)

On the car ride home

I reflect on the race. I think aloud that half is a weird word. Why is there an l in there?

Also, I reflect on the race. I think about how it’s crazy that I pulled it off, especially since I had never run farther than 4 miles at one time until last month. I know that a full marathon is a reality. That if I can do this, I can do anything.

But first, I’ll need a nap.

 

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