Two parts excitement, one part fear

The days leading up to a half-marathon are always incredibly exciting for me. I can’t really describe it for you, other than to say I’m excited at the prospect of standing on Broadway Avenue in Nashville Saturday morning with about 24,000 other runners and beginning what will be, Lord willing, my 4th half-marathon in as many years.

But there’s always an element of fear that never goes away. It’s not that I’m afraid of anything, per se, because I’ve done this three times before and I’ve successfully completed my training for this one. My injury from three months ago has fully healed. But still, there’s always the fear that for some reason or another, something will happen and I won’t be able to finish the half-marathon. Even the idea is unconscionable. Yet there is always risk involved with these, and so the little bit of fear I experience never goes away.

Suffice it to say, I won’t be aiming for a “PR” (personal record) Saturday. The weather is going to be much warmer than I prefer for a long run. It will probably be in the 70’s for the bulk of my run. There will be a good breeze, so that will help. If the clouds can stay around from whatever overnight rain we get, that will also help. The race begins at 6:45. Because of staggered starts, my group won’t hit the starting line until about 7:15. If my time happens to be the same as all my other half-marathons, I’ll finish about 9:30 a.m. But I’m not counting on this. My time this year may be several minutes slower than usual because of the warmth.

I’ve promised myself I won’t be so hard on me this time. My goal heretofore has always been to not only finish the half-marathon, but to run the entire distance without walking any of it. I’ve always accomplished this, but it may not be the case this year due to the heat. So if I absolutely have to take a break and walk some during the last part of the race, I’ll do it in the interest of finishing the 13.1 mile course at all cost. I’ve always seen walking as a sign of weakness. Maybe this is unfair. It may simply be reality this time. And there’s nothing wrong with this.

The way I see it, I can’t do anything about the weather, and all the other runners are going to be running in the same weather I am. So no one’s getting an advantage. The fact that I am even running tomorrow is an accomplishment. I suffered a torn calf muscle near the end of January that sidelined me for over a month and put the half-marathon in jeopardy. I eased back into running during the next few weeks, bought a compression sleeve (that I will likely be wearing long-term), and started running 5K’s again in early March. I consider my training a success when I am able to execute a run of at least 11 miles, and I accomplished this 16 days ago. I’ve always gotten in a run of 11+ miles during half-marathon training, and I’ve always completed the half-marathon. So I’m confident in my preparation.

I always enjoy running the Nashville half-marathon. Yes, the last few miles are always a grind. This is the “mind-over-matter” part of the run. I’m just thankful that tomorrow I’ll be there, because it was just a few weeks ago that I seriously doubted my ability to recover from injury and prepare for the 13.1-mile run. So I’m promising myself that I’ll enjoy the morning, enjoy the experience, do the very best I can, and that it’s acceptable to take a few walking breaks if I absolutely need to. There is no shame in this.

Tomorrow, I won’t have my iPhone with me. I won’t be snapping photos or tweeting from the course. In other words, I won’t be trying to capture the moment. I’ll instead be busy living the moment. I’ll be using my Apple Watch to track my run, hence the lack of need for the iPhone. Honestly, I won’t miss carrying an iPhone at all. It’s more pleasurable to run with your hands empty. I also won’t be running with earbuds. I always run while listening to music (usually Rush), but I don’t listen to music while running the half-marathon. There’s too much going on around me that I would miss if I were plugged in. I feed off the energy of the other runners and don’t want to tune any of that out. It’s the only time I find listening to music to be counterproductive. So no iPhone and no ear buds.

As always, I’ll do a post-run write up later tomorrow, or Sunday at the latest.

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