Half marathon a beneficial experience

The Southerner

By Gracie White


A nervous laugh escaped my lips as I quickly ate an energy gummy before the race. As cliché as it sounds, my stomach really was in knots.

“This is it,” I told myself as I walked toward my corral, ‘I am about to run a half marathon for the first time in my life.’”

I’m not what they call an “elite runner” by any means, and I was definitely trying to finish the race, not win it. When my mom first asked if I wanted to join her in the run, I almost laughed. Me running 13.1 miles? I though it was  ridiculous. I hadn’t even run a 10K yet, only 5Ks, which seemed like an afternoon jog in comparison. But the invitation began to nag at me the more I thought about it, and I realized that I wanted to step up to the challenge. I wanted to prove to myself that I could run those 13.1 miles without stopping. It would be the farthest distance and longest time I had ever run, but my mind was made up. I was going to do it.

During the months before the race, my mom and I trained just about every Sunday, increasing our mileage with each passing weekend. Though we only ran up to eight miles or less in a single run, we had each been running independently throughout the week as well. We were confident that if we ran at a steady pace during the race, we could make it.

Race day arrived and my mom, who was now my official running partner, and I made our way to the staring line at 7 a.m. The music was thumping in my ears and the excitement of the other runners surrounding me was tangible. The event began with a shout from the announcer, and I embarked on the longest race I have ever attempted. The cool morning air kept me alert and focused, but that wasn’t the only refreshing thing about the race. Not only were there lots of hydration stations, but to my delighted surprise, there were organized cheering stations designed to help encourage us along the way. Located all the way from Old Fourth Ward to Tenth Street, these were, without a doubt, the best part of running the half marathon.

Running became hard for me around mile 10. Hills began to look like unconquerable mountains and my knees began to ache, but I pushed forward determined to finish. As we neared the finish line the race was lined with a never-ending cheer station of supporters. My legs felt like Jell-O, but my mom encouraged me along with the crowds, and soon I had crossed the finish line. I was immediately given water and a medal, which I didn’t take off until the walk back to the car. Our finishing time was 2:15, which was faster than both my mom and I were expecting. It’s something I never saw myself doing, this race was one of the most challenging and exhilarating experiences of my life. Even though the entry fee is more expensive than your average 5K, every mile was worth it. I am proud to say that I have already registered for next year’s half marathon.

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