Step One: Choose a race that everyone tells you is the WORST imaginable race. Wind in your face. Boring as heck. Long runways with nothing around. Out and backs. Listen to them intently, then ignore them and sign up without putting too much thought into it.
Step Two: Completely forget how far 13.1 miles actually is. Convince yourself that running this race is the equivalent of running a 5K. Great, this should only take like 30 minutes, right? Yup, so I’ll be home in time for pancakes.
Step Three: Eat the worst imaginable dinner the night before, because you’re only running for like 25 minutes so no need to boost the nutritional content in what you’re consuming.
Step Four: Don’t pack any chews for the race. You don’t need any of that. Who needs to restore energy??? The race should only take fifteen minutes.
Step Five: Run three consecutive days in a row before the race, run two of them hard and blow out your legs. I mean, when TLC comes on, you just have to go with the flow. Take zero days off to refresh. Throw that on top of running 20 miles the last Sunday before the race. Also, don’t bother stretching or foam rolling. That shit is for sissies, isn’t it? You’re a die hard athlete, you don’t need to do any of that. Just eat a cookie instead.
Step Six: Don’t sleep the night before the race.
Step Seven: Show up having eaten half of what you normally eat before this distance at this point in the day (9:30, that’s late for me).
Step Eight: Wear way too many layers, like twelve, it’s almost 45 degrees, turtlenecks are a must.
Step Nine: Start running the race way faster than you planned to. Bonk at mile 3 because you’re starving. Remove layers at mile 4 and imagine chucking them into the woods because you can’t stand the idea of carrying them. (Shit, I just bought this jacket, can’t do that, tie it around your waist and look like a hobo) High five everyone who is lapping you so they don’t think you’re having a stroke. Play finish line song at mile 8 because you thought that at mile 5 you would be finished. Damn it.
Step Ten: When in the hell did half marathons start taking this long??? Have a sudden cold, sharp realization that they take more than 30 minutes. Feel like screaming or throwing yourself in front of a moving planes. There are no moving planes. Crap.
Step Eleven: Find some guy and be a creep. Run at his pace just to keep you going. Tick away the miles. One by one. Just get it done.
Step Twelve: Completely give up at mile 12.70, start slowing down to a gradual halt. I can’t go any further. This is stupid. Wait, there’s Dave, can’t let him see this old goat. Better keep moving.
Step Thirteen: Try to smile at all your friends cheering you on but come off instead like an animal with rabies. There’s the finish.
Step Fourteen: Cross the finish line like something that just got shoved in the butt with a hot poker. Grab a really cool metal, some sort of silver blanket thingy for warmth, sit on the ground, wrap that blanket around your head so no one sees you sulking.
Step Fifteen: Continue to be a grouch until it dawns on you that everyone who also ran, stood in their cold, sweaty clothing to cheer you on. Remember to ask how they did and be happy for them. Even though at this moment, you want to punch running in the back of the head.
Step Sixteen: Check your race results. 2:07, hmmmm, act like a baby and continue feeling sorry for yourself.
Step Seventeen: Go have a beer and a meal with friends. Let them help you find the silver lining. Cheers their accomplishments, help them celebrate. It’s never all bad, after all.