Half Marathon Training: Race Recap

January 19th, 2014: A day I anticipated for months, and a day for which I physically trained for 10 weeks.

It was the day of my half marathon.

Like so many other events I have been excited about, this one began and ended in what felt like a blink of an eye. From the moment my friends and I sat down at the dinner table for our pre-race carb-load meal, I felt like everything was happening in fast forward. I remember strapping my running shoes on at my brother's house in Del Mar, and before I knew it I was roaming around in a sea of nearly 8,000 runners in Carlsbad.

My friends and I didn't make an agreement on our pacing, but it was understood that we'd go however fast or slow we felt comfortable. There was no pressure to keep up or slow down with each other. But unlike me, they have all completed half and/or full marathons before. So you can imagine how nervous I felt.

Miles 1 through 3 were stress free and quick. My adrenaline was still sky high, and I recall cracking jokes with my friends while we dodged around the slower runners.

At one point between miles 4 and 5, however, I decided I had to slow down. And this, I believe, was my greatest decision. In choosing to slow down, I not only reserved my energy but I also allowed myself to enjoy the beautiful scenery around me. I let myself breathe.The course scaled the San Diego coastline, and because I ran without music I could hear the waves crashing into the beach. I like to think of miles 6 through 9 as the stretch that helped me create a vivid mental photo album. Even now I can recall how breathtaking the view was.

When I approached the sign that read "Mile 10," I realized I still had a lot of energy left. I figured that 3.1 miles was just a drop in the bucket at that point, and I essentially sprinted for the last 25 minutes of the race:
Me, Kally, Elizabeth, and Sydney
The event itself was special enough, but what made it even more wonderful was that my friends and family were waiting to greet me at the finish line. Their presence at the race meant more to me than I thought it would:
Sister in law and bro
The roomie(s) Sorah and John
And despite the event's brevity (my run time was 1:44), the parts that were most memorable and enjoyable were the parts during which I was fully aware of my surroundings. It is so easy to be distracted by music, or technology, or even by thoughts of what will happen after the present activity. But there is so much beauty and energy that exists in the here and now that doing anything to take away from it is a shame.

That conscious choice to slow down and to not just look but to actually see where I was in the present moment was powerful. Pardon the cliche, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Life is a journey, not a destination."