By: Laura Walker
Over the weekend I ran the very hilly Columbia Half Marathon. This isn’t my first half marathon, but it was the first I’ve ran with minimal training. It’s not that I was lazy and thought that I didn’t need to train, I assure you my cardio is very average. However, as a second semester senior in college, this semester ended up being one of the most stressful of all four years. Between finishing classes, job applications and interviews, and balancing my family and social life, training was left on the bottom of the totem pole.
So, when Sunday rolled around and I climbed out of bed at 6am to wake my roommate up, who was also running the half, I couldn’t help but think: “What the hell am I doing to myself?” I could’ve easily given my bib to someone else that was more prepared, but I didn’t. Mainly because I never quit something I commit to.
I originally got into running because it clears my mind. And during an extremely hilly half marathon, I had to let my mind wander because otherwise I would’ve keeled over on the curb.
- Okay, there’s the starting line. Remain calm.
There are signs for corrals that runners can follow, but I’m not sure that’s for me. I like run near people, not with them. I see the nine-minute mile corral and stand near it with my roommate. We start the race together, but we always end up getting separated.
- And we’re off!
The weather is chilly for an early Sunday morning, but it’s better than being hot and humid. I’m running effortlessly and I wonder if the people driving by agree. I pass a bar and I nudge my roommate. We almost telepathically acknowledge the fact that we will probably get post-race beers there.
- Hill No. 1
I had forgotten how hilly Columbia, MD is. When you’re driving in your car you don’t notice hills, but on foot you definitely do. The hill wasn’t so bad and I was proud of myself for trudging along without being too winded. Who needs training, right? My amazing playlist will get me through this race no problem!
- I wonder why people wear tutus?
I feel like that would get in the way of something. There are women all over wearing funky clothing that would drive me insane if I had to run thirteen miles in it. So many tutus and boas!
- Where did all the runners go?
After about five miles, the runners started to spread out. Pretty soon, I was basically running alone up several hills in housing developments. I felt like I was running around my own neighborhood, not running a race. There were race volunteers about every quarter-mile and about five runners running around me, but other than that it was a little lonesome.
- Mile Eight
Things changed at mile eight. Mile eight was Everest. I saw the sign for Mile eight, looked up and all I could see was pavement. It was basically vertical. There were three girls around me at the time and we must have all had the same defeating thought because we walked (crawled) up the entire hill. I tried running again halfway up the hill, but I swear gravity was stronger on this hill because I couldn’t move and my feet felt like they were on fire.
- Is that my roommate up there?!
My roommate and I separated after mile three. We never run together at school, so trying to pace each other becomes annoying and makes us both anxious. I tried running faster to catch up, but my legs didn’t think that was a good idea.
- Half-mile left
Some of these fans really get into it! Towards the end of the race, there were mothers and families cheering on the runners. It was the first time in about ten miles it felt like a race. A woman even started randomly running with me and flailing her arms to motivate me. I smiled and gave her thumbs up and she moved on to cheer on another runner.
- The finish line
I tried to sprint as fast as I could to the finish line, but my legs wouldn’t move much faster and I pictured me taking a wipeout as I crossed the line. Thank the Lord I didn’t. I stopped (almost collapsed) immediately after crossing and took my shoes off. My feet were in so much pain. But, they gave me a medal and that made everything better.