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Half-Marathon: The Importance of Competition in My Life

The Importance of CompetitionTomorrow is the big day. The day I’ve been training for since January. Tomorrow I will run the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon for the second time.

Last year I decided on the Tuesday before the Mini to run the race on that upcoming Saturday. My training involved such things as not getting injured while playing basketball, eating spaghetti the Friday evening before the race, and going for a moderate 2 mile run on that Thursday. I also ran the race using the bib from a girl who sold it to me over Craigslist. The bib even identified me as “Emily.”

This year was much better planned out. I actually bought a training book and I actually read it. I went out and bought real running shoes too. (Side note: running in real running shoes is much softer on the knees than running in $25 cross trainers from Kohl’s.) I also dropped 30 pounds leading up to the race and I drastically increased my cross training exercises. Prior to last year’s race the longest run I had done was about 5 miles or so. This year I’ve done a 9 miler, a 12 miler, and a 15 miler all leading up to the marathon.

The other night as Casey and I were getting ready to fall asleep, Casey told me she was worried I was becoming obsessed with exercise and that it was starting to worry her. Truth is, I am becoming a bit obsessed by all this exercise that goes along with marathon training. When I tried to explain to her why she needed to let me be a bit obsessed with exercising, it all went right over her head.

I’ve always been known as a very competitive person. I love any game that involves competition. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game of who can walk on the edge of the curb the longest, or who can stack the best castle made of cards. But as I’ve grown up those opportunities to be competitive have become more and more sparse. Learning to run a marathon has brought that element of competition back into my life and it makes me, well, happy. It allows me to hang onto some of the things that made me happy as a child.

I’m not a great runner. My body wasn’t built to run long distances; it was built to lift heavy things and take very relaxing naps. I’ll never run fast enough to come close to qualifying to run in the Boston Marathon, but I can set individual goals and challenge myself to beat those goals. It’s just about the importance of competition in my life. For this half marathon I’ve set a goal to finish in under 2 hours. Last year I finished the Mini Marathon in 2 hours and 28 minutes. That’s a goal to make a 28 minute improvement and so far, I haven’t finished a single long distance training run at a pace that would allow me to finish in under 2 hours. But that fact only makes that race tomorrow all the more exciting for me–it introduces that much needed element of competition.

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