I still don't really consider myself a runner, but I just completed my 3rd half-marathon. Whatever. I don't know. But here are a few things that I would love to share with you, and you don't even have to run, get blisters or pay a registration fee. Yay!
1. Run Your Race
Truth be told I didn't really have a goal for the race other than to finish it well. And by "well" I mean not having to get any sort of medical treatment, it sounds dramatic, but towards the end, it can get pretty brutal. All that to say, I didn't have a specific time goal. Derek did. And he did amazing. I had to continually, almost moment by moment, remind myself that I needed to run my race, not Derek's, not the people in front or behind me, but I needed to do the best I could. I needed to make the wise decision for me, and not feel bad or less than about that. I did it, I am still a little sore, and I'm thankful.
2. Races Are Good For Humanity
There is a certain camaraderie that forms between runners. It's really something to witness. During the race, I (in the most non-creepy way) followed and paced myself behind a guy who seemed to be doing about the same speed/tempo as me. To me, we were in it together although I'm quite sure he didn't realize my run-stalking. I finished just behind him and gave him a big high-five at the end. He said he was hurting and I thanked him for running a good race because it helped me to run a good race. He seemed surprised but thankful.
There is also something special that happens when tons of people line up and are cheering for mostly strangers, they may know a few people, but they come early and they cheer. They give up their Saturday morning to encourage and lift up others. Maybe this struck me because Nashville is a pretty friendly place, but I'm so impressed by this. When I was hurting at the end, thankfully it was a downhill, but I was grimacing, somewhere between smiling and crying a guy from the side looks at my bib and called my name out, "Courtney! You are looking strong! You've got this!" Hearing those words at that moment was so good for my soul, mind, and body. I certainly don't think I was looking strong, but I was at a spot where I was willing to receive that encouragement and let it carry me a few more fit to the finish.
3. Better Together
This year was so much better than last year because I trained with a friend and Derek was doing the race too. Even though we mostly ran at different paces during the actual race, we were in it together. I was watching out for them and they were watching out for me. We were able to celebrate and debrief afterward, hearing about one another's struggles and victories. I totally recommend running in community, even though it can feel like an individual sport, it is always better together.
A quick note the non-runners...As I said, I still consider myself a non-runner. I don't break any sort of records or even come close to placing in races. I have learned that running is mostly mental, like 80% for me. And 20% is sticking to the training plan...It keeps me honest. If you do the training, if you put the work in, you can do it.