How to run a distance race

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Wake up at 5:15am. Remain in bed, browsing the Internet on your phone. Get out of bed after twenty minutes. Drink something with caffeine as you stretch – anything to get your bowels moving.

Sit on the toilet for 12 minutes, only managing half a regular movement. Worry about this. Put on your gear and grab your bib. Walk out the door, only to feel an urgent rumble in your tummy once you’re too far from home to turn around.

Arrive the the race. Get in line for the portable toilets. Shiver in the cold. Stare at the time on your GPS watch and mentally will the people in front of you to move faster. Listen to PA announcements saying your corral will close in 10 minutes. 

Make it into the very gross potty. Grip the walls with white knuckles while you hover over the toilet and do your business.

Attempt to locate your corral. Start jogging around masses of runners and spectators and closed streets. Locate your corral, only to find it closed three minutes ago. Enter two corrals back and nudge your way through a forest of elbows to sneak into your original start area.

Clap politely for the sponsors and charities. Wonder if your bowels are fully vacated. Run the first three miles way too fast. Chug water at the first aid station while trying to maintain pace. Choke on water you inhale into the wrong pipe.

Count the miles as fractions. You’re ¼ of ½ done! Finally hit the turn as your pace begins to falter. Groan as the sun climbs higher in the sky and starts to pound you with its unrelenting rays. Start to seriously consider walking. Question your life choices that brought you to this point. Try to eat an energy gummy and choke like an infant rushed into solid foods before spitting it out.

Reach the final ¼ of the race. Hate every minute. See nobody around you and hear nothing other than the voice in your head that keeps translating “they’re going to pass me” into French. “Ils vont me passer” you think. You’re not certain, better translate it another 115 times.

They pass you. The pacers running your goal time. Lift your hand feebly as if to call out for them to stop. Don’t call out. Keep your legs moving.

Finally see the marker for the final quarter mile. This must be how Tom Hanks felt when he saw that cargo ship in Castaway. Start to sprint, not because you have any energy left, but because other people around you are sprinting and you’re trying to stay out of their way.

Cross the finish line. WALK. Feel an elation that you’ve never experienced before in life. Stagger through a gauntlet of volunteers handing out bananas, water, cookie, bananas and medals. Limp off towards the horizon. Or wherever your car is parked.

Start planning your next race.

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