January 29th, 2007

Rush

Half the distance, twice the fun

That's what they say about half marathons, even though it really doesn't feel like half of anything. 

Quibbles aside, 13.1 miles is the perfect middle distance -- far surpassing your average 5- or 10K, in training regimen and sense of accomplishment, but without a marathon's joint torture or Saturday suck. 

I cannot imagine the wife mother writer teacher sleeper getter-upper driver neighbor citizen I'd be without the fresh air, exercise and endorphines of a good run. I mean, really. Duck and cover. It's a bad day without exercise.

Yesterday was Austin's 3M Half Marathon, my hands-down favorite run of the year. (Okay, mine's more like a jog than a run, but who's timing?) 

Here are highlights:

The good folks at Embassy Suites taking pity as we waited at the start in the cold, cold dark. They seemed not-at-all frazzled by the thousand-some runners stretching hamstrings in their lobby and lining up to use a bathroom that wasn't a bright blue tippable box. 

Turning the corner at mile 2 so that headwinds became tailwinds.

Friends and family at mile 8 with a big ole' sign, hugs, whoops and hollers. Even my running partner (who's benched with a hip injury) braved the morning chill to cheer me on. Talk about a second wind. Some folks suck on a little tube of goo to recharge, but who needs it when you get a dose of love this palpable?

The perfect playlist my husband built for my iPod (aptly titled Run Liz, Run). Warmed up to Elaine Elias, Zap Mama and Culture; moved onto a podcast of This American Life; and finished out with Fountains of Wayne, ABBA, Jane's Addiction and other delicious stuff. One particular strong spot had me singing I Am Woman (out loud) with Helen Reddy -- while running downhill, no less. Crossing the finish line to Passionate Kisses wadn't bad either. 

Meditating (or hallunicating -- I'm not sure which) from mile 9 to mile 11. "I love this. This feels good. I'm so happy. I'm so lucky." Repeat. "I love this. This feels good. I'm so happy. I'm so lucky." To those who weren't in my altered state it may have looked as if speedier folk were passing me by but I know better. I was flying...

The bagpipe player, jugglers, cowbell ringers, brass band and steel drum afficianado scattered along the course. On a cold morning, for no good reason but the joy of it.

Finishing up -- a few minutes quicker than I'd hoped for, with a few songs left on my playlist. (Actually, just finishing, period, felt dang good. Like putting the final touches on a final draft.) 

Nothing could dampen the spirits, not even the sinewy soul who said to me, right after the race, "That was so short and easy compared to the ultra marathons I've been doing!" 

Short and easy? Mmm hmmm. Kind of like writing literature for kids. Who's hallucinating now?