Monday, February 20, 2012

How to Run a Half-Marathon Without Training, Part 1

Half-Marathon T-shirt at the Expo

I just returned from one of the annual highlights of my calendar year. Angela and I traveled down to Myrtle Beach, SC for the Myrtle Beach Marathon/Half-Marathon Weekend. We look forward to this trip as we join three other couples close to our age for food, fellowship and fun. Preparations begin in late October as we all begin our training regiment to prepare for the long and taxing 13.1 mile run along the coastline of South Carolina. Angela has never joined the running aspect of the trip. While running a 5K (3.1 miles) is on her "Bucket List," finding the time to train for a race while tending to our family is nearly impossible.

So you can imagine the thoughts dashing through my mind when she announced on Friday afternoon, the day before the race, that she thought she just might sign up to run the Half-Marathon. That's right, the 13.1 mile race...without ONE mile of training. She didn't even have running apparel. (She did happen to have her shoes.) Let me go ahead and give you the punch line in case you need to move on to something else: She did it! She got up on Saturday morning, put on her shirt, shorts and shoes and ran 13.1 miles in less than 3 hours (2 hours, 45 mins).

As I unfold this bigger story, I want to download the contributors to her feat (no pun intended) along the way:

1) An Outsider wanting to be an Insider...
Over the years after we all crossed the Finish Line with thousands of others, we had stories to tell. We would talk about waiting in long lines for the Port-A-Potty, running past local restaurants while the aroma of fried bacon filled the air, passing the coastline to see the waves crashing along the shore, and the countless individuals we saw and engaged with along the route. All Angela could do was listen. There's no story to tell about waiting on the roadside for two hours. 
It was enough to make her say, "I'm going to do this next year." There's something about being on the outside of the conversation that makes you want to be on the inside.
2) Other's success contributed to her success...
Another facet of watching the finish is that you see countless people of all shapes, ages and sizes finish the race. After the elites get across the line, you begin to notice that they remaining thousands of runners are just ordinary folks who just decided to accomplish a goal.  Some are faster than others; some look more prepared than others; and some look are more excited than others. There's something in Angela that would whisper, "If they can do this, I can too."
3) Change is good...
Angela is a very fun-loving and exciting woman. She is very smart and organized. Much of that is due to the fact that she has clearly defined structure and routines in her life. As long as life is stable within the confines of those boundaries, "It's all good!"  Needless to say, risk-taking is not a favorable companion.
As we made our way down to the coast, we traveled in two vehicles: guys and gals. In the "gal car," someone shared a devotion from Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence that pointed out the fact that when we cling to our routines, we resist what God can do with our lives. That had to be a strong word for someone who likes to live in the center of "the box." By her own admission, this is where the notion of running began.
4) Someone asked her...
Sitting at the table that afternoon was another female "non-runner." Her husband was registered to run, but he had injured himself on a long training run and did not heal in time to complete his training. That left them with a nice shirt and a wasted runner's bib...or so we thought.
The wife had ran hurdles for her college track team and a few neighborhood runs in recent months, but nowhere close to 13.1 miles. This was the person who planted the thought in Angela's mind to attempt to run this race. She leaned over and said, "I'll run this thing if you'll run it with me." 
This is just the first half of this post. The second half is complete, but I'll save you some time for now. I'll post the rest in a few days. If you don't want to miss it, feel free to subscribe in the box under the purple arrow on the right. They'll come to to your Inbox (so you don't have to go fetch'n them.)

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