There are a lot of things you can cram for – that driver’s written test when you’re sixteen. That history exam that covers 400 years and is worth 60% of the grade. A speech you’re supposed to give to a hundred people. Packing your suitcase 20 minutes before you have to leave for the airport. I’m not saying that cramming is necessarily the most effective way to accomplish any of these things; I’m just suggesting that it’s possible.
It is not possible to cram for a Half Marathon.
You have either put in the time, the miles, the stretching, the effort or you haven’t. It’s hard to believe that my race is a week from tomorrow. When I think back to the day I signed up to run, I couldn’t visualize getting to where I am now. Now that I’m here, I realize that it was the culmination of all the time and energy I put in to the process. I ran when it was cold, rainy, windy, hot, or snowy. I ran when I hadn’t had enough to eat and times when I’d been paying attention and was raring to go. I ran because I had a goal, I ran because I liked it, I ran on days when I was pumped up, and I ran sometimes when I didn’t feel like it.
I have tried new foods and fuel and gone back to what I know works for me. I have gotten up early, missed parties, said no to happy hours, rearranged my schedule, chosen running over other things… I have massaged sore muscles and asked for advice from seasoned runners. I have read articles, bought gear, talked about running, written about running, bought more gear, dreamed about running, and then got out there and ran again.
I have had moments of doubt and I have had moments of sheer exhilaration when I thought I could conquer anything. It is strange and exciting, and I’m still a little nervous, but in my heart, I know I’m ready. I still have one week of tapering left, but if my race was tomorrow, I’d be ok. I don’t have to cram for the exam – I have put in the time, one foot after another, mile after mile, minute over minute, day after day. It’s time.