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Half marathon, the event

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Having gone through a personal defeat last weekend (not being able to jog the entire self-designated course), I was apprehensive about the race. I was fairly confident that I would finish it, the question was whether I would be able to jog the entire 13.1-mile length.

With the race being on Sunday, I did my last regular jog on Thursday and then put away my running shoes until the day of the race. Many people train for such events, but not me. I'm just not much into schedules and regiments. I jog regularly, but never clock my speed or distance. My diet is relatively healthy, but I eat just about anything I crave. And there is the bad habit of smoking one cigarette a day. I had resolved to quit that for about a week prior to the event, but then I decided to abandon the plan. I enjoy the occasional tobacco buzz as much as I enjoy jogging. For me to function right, I need to have both habits coexist peacefully. This has worked for me for many years, and i wasn't about to sacrifice one for the other.

Yesterday (the day before the race), I loaded up on pasta (some self-invented meal consisting of angel air, tuna, olive oil, and mayonnaise). Actually I wasn't feeling so great, which put the whole idea of participating in the race into question. Thankfully that was just a passing thought. Race or not, I had to jog on Sunday anyways, so might as well take part. I decided to turn in relatively early that night, and got a decent amount of sleep. I actually dreamt that I had overslept and missed the race. It was a pretty disturbing dream.

The clock went off at 6:30 AM on Sunday. Whole milk and cereal for breakfast (low-fat and low-carb have no place in my diet), supplemented by a couple of large California dates and a large glass of tea. Dates are the nature's true energy bars. Why suffer through the nasty-tasting, artificial stuff when you've got the real deal made by nature. They taste great too. By 8 AM I was on location, pinned my designated number to the front of my T-shirt, and walked about until 8:30 when the race began.

This was a running experience for me unlike any other. I always jog alone with my thoughts being my only company. Here I was one of nearly 700 runners running towards the finish line. It was early in the morning and the weather was clear and crisp; an exhilarating day. In about a couple of miles or so, the crowd started to thin out. Some pulling ahead, others falling behind, and suddenly the experience reverted to the familiar territory for me. It was me again and my thoughts to keep me company. Some of the thoughts were about when I was going to hit the proverbial wall when runners run out of energy and may have to start walking. If there were a wall, I must have side-stepped it obliviously. I jogged the entire course in good form and before I knew it, it was finished. There were no heavy breathing or excessive pain, nor my emotions were too high. It had felt just like another normal jog.

For the first time in my jogging life I actually knew the exact distance and speed I had traveled; 13.1 miles in one hour and 54 minutes. I was the 285th person finishing the race. Good enough for me. Mission accomplished.

As I drove home, I was thinking about the next step. A full marathon, perhaps? Well, that might be in my future, but not for a while. But I know I'll be back again next year for another half marathon.
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