Thirteen-point what? 13.1 to be exact. That is the number of miles I will be running on April 16.
Now, you might wonder why on earth someone would choose to run that ridiculous distance. Trust me, I was wondering the same thing about six months ago, but then my perspective changed.
I took up running when swim season ended. My friend and I decided to condition with the track team in order to stay in shape during the off season.
I will always remember the first day: I approached the track, scared out of my mind, trying to look calm in my old sneakers and big hoodie. In my mind, we were just going to run a couple times around the track, stretch a bit and call it good. Oh, how wrong was I! I was placed in the "long distance" group and wasn't quite sure how I felt about that. I couldn't really run fast, but I couldn't run far either, so I shrugged and just went with it.
That first day, they took us on a 2.6-mile route. Gulp, I could barely run a mile every Friday in gym! What was I supposed to do? Suck it up and fake it of course. So I did. After about 10 minutes of running, my body gave out. I was bent over wheezing and coughing. How could people do this? Yet, I prevailed. I jogged, tripping over my feet, and somehow I finished. I had a newfound respect for runners.
Even though I wasn't good at running, I persisted. I diligently ran my 2.6 miles every day after school, dreading the day when we would take the 4-mile route. Well that day came, and I surprisingly didn't die; I even began to drop time.
Last summer, I continued to run and actually began to enjoy it. Soon, swimming started up again and that pretty much put an end to my running. And then ... the invitation. Last December, my aunt and I were driving in the car when she casually let slip, "So, I am going to run a half marathon in April."
"You're crazy!" I said.
She said, "You know, you could run it with me."
I laughed and we dropped the subject. However, I could not get that darn half marathon out of my mind. I begged and pleaded with myself, but a subconscious decision had already been made. I was going to run that half marathon.
Resolved, I began to tell people about the Salt Lake City race because the best motivation, at least for me, is telling other people. That way, when they ask me how my training is going, or if I really did go running last night, I can proudly raise my head and respond with a resilient "Yes!"
As soon as swim season was over I began to train. Most people follow a training schedule. I didn't. I just figured I would jog and eventually get up to the higher miles. I didn't really take into account that I do not have a gym membership; therefore the only way to run would be outside. But we live in Utah, the land of ever-changing weather. Due to that, there were many days I ran through all elements; rain, snow, sleet, hail, wind, you name it.
When I finally reached the victorious 8-mile mark, I got excited. If I can do 8 miles, I can do anything right?
It has been fun and exhilarating seeing how far and fast I can push my body, but it is also frustrating. I wasn't prepared for the hurt legs and the blisters; some weeks I can only go running two days because I am in so much pain. The important thing to remember, and something I have to remind myself, is that I didn't just start running one day. I had to work up to it. It was a slow and frustrating process; it still is. I have just been taking it as it comes and doing my own thing.
All I know is that when April 16 comes around I will be ready -- hopefully!
Lynette Randall is a junior at Clearfield High School. She loves river rafting, rock climbing, wave running and reading. E-mail her at email@example.com.