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The Light at the End of the Treadmill: Wharf to Wharf 2008


Fridays in middle school were the worst because Fridays were the day we all had to run one mile in P.E. class. Some ran 6 minute miles, some ran 12 minute miles, some ran 15 minute ones and some got pushed down on the track by jr. high bullies. I was some combination of these.

You hear about runner’s “second wind” or the amazing adrenaline rush from running in races. You hear how it’s all about beating your PR (runner lingo for personal record. Why not PB for personal best, I ask), that that alone is motivation enough.

I didn’t believe in most of this. Running is a sort of painful exercise and one that I’ve done off and on and back on again. It’s almost like seeing an ex-boyfriend. But if anything, I like a good challenge and so recently I found myself back on with running. It should be noted that with my asthma, short stride and my tendency to overpronate, I am no natural-born runner. I know people who could wake up one day after partying until the wee hours of the morning the night before and run a 1ok without breaking too big a sweat. I, however, am not this person and to prepare myself for my first 10k at Wharf to Wharf, I began a self-prescribed training regimen consisting of long runs each day. Now, when you’re not a fast runner (as I am not), all your runs over 3 miles long become your long runs.

On race day, we pinned on our numbers and congregated with all the other runners by the boardwalk. After 20 minutes of stretching our legs, Nathalie and I stood next to the sign for 9-minute miles. I am pretty sure in a more stringent, follow-the-rules type race I would not have been placed in the 9-minute mile group, but this was Wharf to Wharf and all bets were off.

The first mile was the hardest. After the gun went off (or a bell? the sound that signaled everyone to begin is still a mystery to me…) walkers stood in our path. And this is why I stood in the 9-minute mile group–to have a better chance of getting around all the people in front of me who should have been in the 15-minute mile group.

Looking back, the 2nd-6th mile are all a blur. In my memory, it even seems somewhat effortless. This is probably because when I train alone, despite my best efforts not to, I zone in on my breathing (heavy) and the slap-slap-slap of my feet on pavement (loud) and when combined with the need to constantly swipe away my profuse sweat from running into my eyes (annoying) it all seems so effort-full.

But running the course of the race, there were people all around, so many people that you don’t have time to think about your breathing, much less to even think about stopping. The stunning, scenic route also helps a ton. At parts we were running right by the beach, and when not running by the beach, we would be running by beautiful beach homes (possibly my second favorite thing to run next to). Throw in locals with babies and signs cheering us on or spraying us with water and bands playing every 0.3 miles and you have a race that was not only one of my best runs, but the most exhilarating fun I’ve had in a while. And to top it all off, I ended up running pretty darn fast for my own self.

So now I see the light and can appreciate why people enter races and why I’ve been training this whole time. It’s an amazing feeling, euphoric even. It’s like that kind of playing you did when you were a kid where you forgot yourself and you played so hard that you sometimes forgot to eat or pee. But you’re not just playing, you’re actually running a legitimate amount. (A legitimate amount defined as any distance that would make you think twice about walking if you were in the mood to get out on a walk for ice cream).

Pictures to be posted soon…

Last modified: January 10, 2019