I had always wanted to run a marathon. What better way to step into training than by running a half-marathon. I had only run a few 5Ks since high school, so I was still pretty new to racing. I decided to run the Hobblecreek Half-Marathon since it was close to home and all downhill. What could be better?
Training for the race went pretty well. I was feeling confident that I would be able to go the distance, even though my longest run was only about 7 miles. My dad, a former marathoner, always told me that "If you can run half the distance in training, you can most likely run the complete full distance in the race." I trusted him on that, so when late August came around, I felt ready.
I woke up the morning of the race extremely nervous. Maybe I didn't feel as confident as I had thought. I went through my regular routine: use the restroom, eat breakfast, get dressed. I was able to get some food down; however, the only thing I was able to do adequately was get dressed. The time came to head out, so my wife drove me to the finish area to catch the bus to the start. My nervousness continued on the slow, bumpy bus ride up the canyon to the starting line. By the time we got to the start, I really needed to take care of some business, so I jogged over to the port-a-potties, and waited (and waited, and waited) in line. By the time it was my turn, everyone was being called to the start line. This really didn't help my nerves! I did what I could and ran over to the start, glad to have at least had an opportunity to relieve some pressure.
The race started, and once I got going, I was feeling really great! It was a little chilly running through the canyon, but when the sun came up, the beauty of the canyon was revealed. The canyon walls and the aspen trees lit up, accompanied by the occasional sound of the creek flowing downhill. I was able to settle into a strong pace and chat with some other runners along the way. And then...
Somewhere between miles five and six, my lack of success in the restroom started to haunt me. I started to feel very uncomfortable and had to slow it down a notch. As the miles passed, I noticed myself slowing more and more. I finally had to jump off course for a secluding boulder. Again, no luck. I ran back to the road, trying not to look too conspicuous, and continued on.
Without going into more detail, I was able to make it to the finish and head straight for the bathroom, feeling like I was going to die. Looking back on this now, I can smile and laugh about it. I definitely learned a lesson from this experience, and this is my advice to all new half-marathoners (and racers of any distance): Relax! You've put in plenty of miles. You don't need to worry, this is just another run. Doing this will help you take care of business before the race, so you can really take care of business during the race.