The time, 5:45 a.m., glowed from my cell phone. Rain fell from the sky. Three vehicles blocked my car in the parking lot. I frantically tried to coordinate a ride. Yet, I couldn't be more excited to run my second half marathon.
The 5th Annual Syracuse Half Marathon was held on Sunday, where I gave "running on three hours of sleep" a literal meaning. Around 4,600 runners lined up at the start at 7:45 a.m. to run 13.1 miles. The race began and ended on S. State Street.
When it comes to long distance running, there are two defining moments during my run. First, I feel like I’m going to die, and then I question how I could possibly like running. These moments typically start just before I hit my sweet spot around mile four – when a runner’s body starts burning carbohydrates instead of glucose – and around mile nine, when I’m reminded of my problematic knee.
Yet, those moments are reasons why I love to run. Physical training is crucial, but it’s a mental game. On the days when it feels like everything is crumbling around me, I go for 10-mile runs to be reminded of my mental capabilities.
Because of this, I choose to do things like wake up at 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday and run 13.1 miles.
I do not consider myself a runner, however. In January of 2016, a 5k race seemed unthinkable. But, an unplanned summer in the suburbs of Detroit left me with a lot of free time and motivation. I began training for a half marathon in May, and by July 16, I finished the race in Rochester, Michigan in two hours and three minutes. I placed within the top 50, given there were only 300 people that competed.
A few months later, I ventured out on my life sabbatical with SU London. After five months in Europe and only the occasional jog around the local graveyard, I was back to square one in my training plan. But within my European bubble, a handful of my friends and I had signed up for the Syracuse Half Marathon.
Training has always been a priority for me as it reinstates my sanity, but being from Southern California, the Syracuse weather created a barrier in my training. Many people cringe at the idea, but I am ambivalent to the treadmill. With the promise of a lower impact run and warmer conditions, I vowed to train at Archbold Gymnasium six days a week. I used the Nike+ Run app to customize a training schedule, and I averaged 30 miles a week on top of extensive full-body weight training.
Come race day, I was equipped in all my gear, mocked up a playlist, and had completed a 12-week training program. I actually felt prepared.
The treadmill, however, did not train me for the hills. While I should’ve figured the course would be hilly since it ran throughout Syracuse, I did not think to do incline training on the treadmill.
There are two things that I love about races, which make up for the excruciating calf muscle cramps. The first: seeing how much water I can actually make into my mouth as I thrust the half full Dixie cup in the direction of my face. The second: the people.
Although watching a long-distance race is boring, the streets were lined for all 13.1 miles with kids high-fiving runners, dogs that tempted runners to go off course to pet, and wildly creative signs. My personal favorites were, “You’re running better than our government” and “I thought you said rum.”
I sprinted across the finish line, racing the clock to finish in less than two hours. While my average time suffered, I still met my goal and finished in one hour and 58 minutes. And just like that, after three months of training, I completed the 13.1 miles. I celebrated with a nap and woke up to stiff ankles. After the next race I complete, which could be a full marathon, I will remember to stretch out my muscles more before taking a nap.