So why did they give me the tee shirt already?
Seriously, I'm new to this racing stuff. I don't know from race tee shirt protocol. I've been running much of my adult life, and not because someone was chasing me, either (although it's happened), but because I like it. I like the way it makes me feel, I like the solitude it affords and the way the slap slap slap of my feet against asphalt or dirt creates a meditative rhythm that is equally perfect for problem solving or zoning out.
I like running through my neighborhood and stirring up all the dogs, especially the dopey, lope-gaited Belgian Tervuren and his squat-bodied Rottie buddy who, whenever they see me, run the fence bouncing for all the world like I'm about to take them out for ice cream. I guess it doesn't matter how many times a dog sees you, each time is the first time, in dog time.
One of my favorite routes includes about a 3/4 mile stretch of dirt road that leads from our neighborhood to Route 66. There's a beautiful painted pony that grazes the pasture just to the south of the road and if he's out, he always comes to the fence to say howdy. I like the contrast between the brick orange colored dirt at my feet and the shock of turquoise sky above me. Sometimes, I turn off my iPod so I can listen to the world breathe: the whistle of the wind, the screech of scrub jays in the junipers, the grumble of the semi trucks muscling their goods along I-40.
Still, other than the four times I've run La Luz, I've pretty much left myself up to my own devices when it came to running. I could have cared less about personal records or 5k times or carbo loading or whether or not I was running aerobically or anaerobically. I just wanted to get out and move and if some days I did that easier than others, bonus. If not, there was also swimming and biking, hiking and weight lifting.
But for some reason, THIS year? I decided I was going to run my first ever half marathon. That's 13.1 miles for you directionally challenged. And yes, that's also 13.1 miles straight. No breaks for cocktails and chit chat.
So, I have to tell you. I've enjoyed the rigidity of the training schedule. I've enjoyed getting stronger and going longer. I've especially enjoyed this week's tapering which includes some mighty fine excuses to shovel a bunch a carbs down my gullet, more than usual, even.
I'm even enjoying the fear that's been knocking at my stomach all week as race day approaches and the devil on my right shoulder is all, "WTF do you think you're DOING?" while the devil on my left shoulder is all, "DUDE! No pain no gain!"
Thankfully, S.B. is running it with me (although not literally because he's faster than I am). My former boss will also be there, and another friend is walking it. Most excellent friend and professional cheerleader, Doris Rose, will show up for the post-race festivities. Best of all, by the time next Monday comes around I'll most likely have a half marathon under my belt and that tee shirt on my back.
So, if you happen to remember round about, say, 10:00 MST this Sunday morning, send me your good thoughts and help me trot those last few miles in semi dignity across the finish line. And I'll go eat a huge stack of pancakes in your honor.