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"LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN!!" (without even asking??) I promise I don't intentionally let seven months (?!?) slip through my fingertips without a single blog post. (On the contrary, I also don't promise to pretend that anyone even notices; I'm aware that blogging has kind of fallen by the wayside, along with tweeting... but maybe that's just in my world??)

ANYWAY... welcome back!! I have been wanting to share for awhile now the story of my fourth half-marathon. (grammar scholars, please advise me: do i need the dash betwixt the half and marathon? And is 'betwixt' a legit word to use?? As well as 'legit'???) AND NOW I'M IN A PANIC. I just googled 'awhile vs. a while' and am still so completely unsure. Maybe I just remembered why I only blog once every seven blue moons?? (FUTURE POSTS TO COME IN SMOKE SIGNALS.)

Like the three trainings prior, thanks to Oz Events in my wonderful hometown of El Dorado (BPL!! SHOUTOUT!!!), I felt as though I were mentally and physically prepared for this big race. I had some awesome times under my running belt, and I was convinced I was going to land a PR and just feel really good about myself. I was also lucky enough to spend an entire week before the race on Spring Break in Southern California and Las Vegas with family and close friends (& BRITNEY!) celebrating love and life. (I should have known such a trip might pose a problem come race day.)

Race day came on April 1st, and I was completely unaware that I was about to play the fool. I shot out like the seasoned pro I thought I was; this was my fourth Half, after all. I knew to keep a slower pace in the beginning, and to pick it up after Myers Road. (The locals know that nightmare I speak of.) When my ear buds went out after less than half a mile, I should have known things wouldn't end well. (Do you hear me cursing your name, Apple?? Why? Why did you have to redesign the headphones for the latest iPhone?? The devil may wear prada, but I am now convinced that the devil also wears iPhone ear buds.) I had a "naked" running experience on a recent 10K, where the rain forced me to ditch the phone and earbuds... so I didn't let that throw me off too much. So what if I didn't get to listen to some of that Richard Simmons podcast?? I was pumped and knew I could handle this minor setback. And I could...

...for about the first eight miles. I was running with someone I spent the majority of the training with (ISAAC!), and I knew about that time (just after Myers Road!) that I was in trouble. I hadn't yet hit mile nine, and I was hurtin' for certain. My brain was filled with "I HAVE TO WALK. WHAT IF I WALK? I'VE NEVER WALKED. I HAVE TO WALK. I CAN'T WALK.". I made light conversation with people, all the while struggling internally. It was just before mile nine when I looked across the highway at an open field, and SERIOUSLY deliberated calling my friend Hope to come and pick me up. I imagined the scenario so clearly, that to this day I almost believe I actually made that phone call.

I ran past the open field, and came to a point where I could either turn left and tackle the last four miles, or continue forward and shave about three miles off the course. I thought I could take the shortcut, and just stop short of the finish line confessing that I had taken a detour. I was OK with the shortcut. I was OK with letting people know I cheated. But I wasn't going to cross the finish line, so it really wasn't cheating, was it? I wrestled with that decision... until my legs turned left.

And then I said hello to Holy Hill. (I know, the name we have given to the paved hill by the church makes it sound like a massive mountain. Let me just say for the sake of the story, it is.) I reached the top of that hill, and said "I can't.". And I didn't just say it in my head. I said it out loud, repeatedly, to myself, and to the people at the aid station. I CAN'T. Me... the one with the phrase on his shoestring, strapped in tight on his right shoe since his first Half, that states "Clear your mind of can't." I knew I had failed. I FAILED. Myself. My coach. My friends. And most importantly... my mom.

I walked for bit, crying a little, cursing a little more, then crying again. I waved at people there to volunteer their time and people there to cheer runners on. I would wave, and say "I can't. I'm walking." and I would get in return nothing but words of inspiration and encouragement. I would start to run, and I found it was just that much easier to walk, having done so already. I let myself wallow in my own misery and pity for probably ten or so minutes. It felt like, at the time, the majority of the race. I had never felt so completely defeated.

As soon as I realized that I was going to finish the race, in its entirety and by crossing the finish line, I started to be thankful for my "bad race" that I was having. I don't run because I love the feeling, I don't run because I feel like it's what I was born to do. I don't run because it's something I'm good at. I run because I can. So many of the runners I come across, whether it be online or in real life, talk about "bad races" they've experienced. This was mine! This was my "bad race" and I wasn't going to let it rob me of all the hard work I had put in to get to this point. I realized I would NEVER run another fourth half-marathon. I would NEVER run another race where I walked for the first time. I truly soaked in those thoughts... and the part about disappointing my mom?? When I really thought about letting her down, I was ashamed for letting those thoughts even enter my head.

MY MOM IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON WHY I RUN. To have witnessed the person who has championed my every move since birth be robbed of life's simple luxuries, such as walking, really puts things in perspective. Sometimes, unintentionally, I let go of that perspective. How easy I am drawn back in.

My ten minute "walk of shame" (as I dubbed it in my brain) is nothing to be ashamed of. What would my mom give to walk for those ten minutes I was embarrassed by?? I think I found more pride and was more humbled by my "bad race" than any run prior... and probably any race yet to come.

I'm four days away from lacing up for my fifth half-marathon training. I have every intention of clearing my mind of CAN'T, and I have my fingers (and future black toenails) crossed for a PR... but if I find myself in a similar situation?? You know me, I'll simply... walk on. (as long as my legs will let me.) #becauseIcan

(but I'll also avoid a week in Cali/Vegas a week prior.)

*main picture is from about mile 10. running. I saw a camera, and ran.

And now for some pics!!!

THROWBACK! My friend Hope! (The one I almost called from a vacant field, during my fourth Half, to rescue me from my misery and temporary shame??) The same friend that got my butt off the couch, and trained with me for my first 5K in August of 2013!!! The same friend that trained and ran with me for my first three half-marathons!!!!

HOPE!! One half of the Spirit Guide duo of OZ EVENTS!!! (I'm the other half, if you were wondering.) She was there to cheer me on that fateful morning of my Half-disaster. (and why she would have been the perfect choice to pick me up in that vacant field.)

I decided by mile 10 that I was going to have one dramatic finish. (Mama always says I have a flair for the dramatics!!!)

I have ran MAYBE three times since my last half...

I said MAYBE three times... but two for sure!!!

#jamesthomastaylor #krakenbooks #runners #mymommyburntthecookies #youretoobigtodreamsmall #ronbaker #running #halfmarathontraining #5k #OZEvents #TeamOZ

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