Albuquerque · Running

Duke City Half Marathon

Last Sunday at sunrise I stood in the shadow of downtown high-rises, clapping my hands to keep warm. Motivational music pumped from loudspeakers, and other runners milled, bounced, and stretched around me. We were like a bunch of protons, vibrating non-stop. Or electrons?

Who cares? We were there, I was there, to run a HALF MARATHON. 13.1 miles. I hadn’t run a race over 10k since 2015 and I was there to feel things, think things, and see what my older, wildly-changed mind and heart and body could do.

So I did. By God, I did.

I got choked up at that starting line. I joked with a stranger, because that’s what one does. I looked around at the tall buildings and city atmosphere and felt like I was part of something big and important. I let the butterflies dance a little.

I inadvertently went out too fast. I told myself to just stay relaxed. My legs knew and appreciated the flatness of the race course in comparison to my training routes long before my brain did, I think. Sometimes you need to trust your legs enough to gamble on them. I learned that.

I saw a squadron of hot air balloons on the horizon and smiled. It was a perfect morning for ballooning; it was a perfect morning for everything. Clear, calm, chilly.

I picked other runners to keep in sight, I picked other runners to try and pass. Sometimes it worked, others not so much.

I thought about my first half marathon, in Williamsburg, Virginia. I was a cocky twerp of a college student, but that race hooked me. I thought about my fastest half marathon, in Austin, Texas, how strong I felt.

I looked at supportive and funny signs held up by spectators. One guy stood near the turnaround point holding a sign that read “May the course be with you.” As runners passed, he shouted, “Turn around, it’s a trap!” and, if I say so, managed a fair Akbar impression.

I thanked water station volunteers. I kept going. The remaining miles waned. God, those miles.

The last few miles of a long race never get easier, not really, but they do seem to get a tiny bit sweeter. I was tired. I had to pee. My legs had already given more than I expected. I let go of the original plan to CRUSH the last two miles and accepted the new plan to finish. To achieve. To accomplish. To attain the goal. To not shrink or fade, to not play small. To take up space. Deserved, unabashed space.

To let the work, play, pain, miracles, lessons, beauty, and growth of the last six years of my life shine through.

And I did. I did, I did, I did.

4 thoughts on “Duke City Half Marathon

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