On the Eve of My Twenty-Fourth Birthday and First Half-Marathon

By Crista Tappan - June 02, 2012

Last year, on my twenty-third birthday, I remember thinking to myself, "This is the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Things cannot possibly ever get better."

The past year has placed countless challenges on my plate that have been quite hard to chew. At times I felt like my whole world was in chaos, and there was one thing that I could always count on. Off on the trails, away from the city, the people, the voices, I'd find my peace. For thirty minutes, or an hour, or more, I'd have a space where I could decompress. Nobody would be asking me countless questions, homework would be sitting patiently on my desk for my return, and my Grandmother's failing health would be re-established as a fact of life and not the end of mine.

Although I am endlessly grateful for my friends and family for their support, I needed to depend on something that wasn't another human being. Running was not only a place for me to escape, but it also made me feel better. When days would get rough, I could always tell myself, "At least I ran today". 

Even though school has become increasingly exhausting, I feel like I have become a much stronger person because of running. Not physically, but emotionally. Of course, the mind and body connection is surely a major component of my well-being. Feeling physically good allows me to function at optimal level and not be plagued by aches and pains. But on a deeper level, running has created a resiliency within myself that helps me handle the shit that life hands you. I don't find myself wanting to fall apart at the seams, rather, I find myself fighting back even harder.

So here I find myself, on the eve of my twenty-fourth birthday, staring at my racing bib and timing chip on my desk in front of me. I'm nervous, of course. I've still never ran 13.1 miles straight, although I've done 11 on a hilly trail and 20 in under twenty-four hours. Fear and the unknown is part of the journey.

If it wasn't a little scary, and there wasn't a level of risk, where is the adventure?

It seems a little silly for me to get so worked up over a half-marathon, considering I have my eyes set on quite larger goals. But for me, this is the start of my journey towards running a Marathon, and ultimately running Ultras. Six months ago, I created the goal for myself to run a half before my 24th birthday. Now that it's approaching (in less than 9 hours to be precise) I feel a little out-of-body.

My life has been in a state of flow because I have been pursuing the things I love with every ounce of energy in my entire being. I've rid myself of negative people and their disastrous influence.  I feel empowered and capable of anything.

The people I've met in the past few months have changed my life. The experiences I've had have influenced my future in ways I still have not begun to understand. I've put myself out there, allowed myself to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, and have begun to understand the importance of simply going with the flow. I've allowed my path to lead itself out in front of my feet, and trust that it will take me to a beautiful place.

One thing I know for sure: once I finish my race, I am planning to celebrate accordingly. Champagne, Chinese food, and the company of some of my best friends.

What more could a girl ask for?

I am the happiest I've ever been in my entire life.

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  1. You will learn that 13.1m, 26.2m, 31km, 50m, 62km and 100m are just numbers. We put needless barriers on our own abilities. You are capable of much more than you think you are!!! After tomorrow I wouldn't be surprised if you go run a casual 13.1 miles next weekend with little effort. :) The only limits you have are the ones you put on yourself. Have fun tomorrow and I hope you have the best birthday ever.

    1. Now that the race is behind me (with another half in two weeks) I'm fairly certain that with the right training my body can handle anything. Thanks for the words of encouragement, it genuinely made me feel better and calm my nerves before my race. I'm so excited for what the future has in store :)

  2. What Pat said ;] Barriers are in your head. You ever hear the illustration of the flea in the box? If you put a flea in a box and close the lid eventually the flea learns to jump no higher than the lid. You could even remove the lid, but the flea wont jump any higher because of its now perceived limit. Realize that the lid above your head is gone and who knows how far you'll be able to jump.

    1. Took the lid off my box, and tentatively gauging how much room I have above my head ;-) Seems to be quite a bit up there! Which is a good thing, considering I have the goal of going to the Copper Canyons hanging high up there now :)