A chance to prove yourself

Another News and Sentinel Half Marathon in the books. This year was my fifth, and while I will never be accused of being fast … or even of keeping up a good pace … I did finish faster than I have in all but my first attempt. I’ll take it.

Every year I am pleasantly surprised all over again by the people who line the race course in lawn chairs, with balloons, signs and the always-welcome garden hose. Their energy pushes us along. My favorite this year was a young lady who said, with the greatest sincerity, “You can do it! … I’m pretty sure you can …”

An officer standing watch at an intersection yelled something along the lines of “Better you than me!”

And, of course, at about mile 10 folks started shouting things like “You’re almost there!” “It’s almost over.”

I’m one of those people who talks — a lot — during a race. To myself, to the runners and walkers around me, to the people watching along the course, to the water stop volunteers. I know it makes no sense. If I pushed myself just a little harder, I wouldn’t have the breath to talk, and I’d be faster.

Not my style.

No, I’d rather strike up a conversation with the race walker in front of me who didn’t do his first half marathon until he turned 60; the woman recovering from foot surgery who decided to do 13.11 miles as fast as she could, anyway; the guy who said he was going to quit smoking and do the race next year. (I heard from him later. He DID quit.)

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what I say to myself, it’s usually along the lines of “Pick up your feet! Nuts! I hope no one sees the Gatorade I just dribbled all over myself,” or “This mile is definitely longer than the last one.”

Yeah. Delvine Meringor has nothing to worry about from me.

But what is almost as much fun as yabbering my way through the race is talking to people gathered at the pre-race pasta dinner and post-race pizza lunch. People from all over the country — and plenty of other countries — get to swap strategies, talk about everything from the best running shoe to the best local craft brews, and share a meal with a large room full of people with whom they know they have at least one thing in common.

It’s fantastic. The energy there is part of the fun of the weekend, too.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If I can do this, you can, too. And it is absolutely worth the sweat and soreness.

To be fair, every year I go through a very brief period right after the race when I tell myself “OK, I’m not doing that again next year.” It lasts about until I walk all the way to the cooling station and the first person asks “How was it?!”

It was great! It really was. Of course I’m going to do it again next year. (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.)

You can, too. Really. If a half marathon is just too intimidating, you can do the two-mile race.

The excitement of the day is surpassed only by the satisfaction in having met the goal, crossing that finish line.

I did it, again. So can you.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com