13.1 Things We’re All Thinking When We Run a Race


© Martin Schlecht | Dreamstime.com

You do it. I do it. We all do it — this is pretty close to the conversation we have with ourselves during a race, isn’t it?

Mile 1) I feel so fast. I know I’m going to PR today. The taper must’ve really worked because I am flying. I am passing so many people already!

Mile 2) This pace feels super easy. Maybe I should adjust my goal and go faster? I mean, I could really have a breakthrough today.

Mile 3) Okay, not really passing anyone any more. Let’s go back to the A goal. But I still feel good. Legs are still happy. I can do 5Ks in my sleep.

Mile 4) Less than double digits to go. Oh great, I’m counting down already? 9 miles is a long way to count down. I really should stop looking at my watch.

Mile 5) Only 5 more miles plus a 5K to go. Ugh, I promised myself to stop doing runner math. But I’m still on pace to reach my goal.

Mile 6) I really don’t like uphills. Or downhills. Or running on flat surfaces too long.

Mile 7) Legs are not feeling quite so fresh any more. How are we just past the halfway point? I feel like I’ve been running a really long time already.

Mile 8) Why do I ever think this is a good way to spend a weekend morning? I could be drinking mimosas. I could be sleeping. I could not be running.

Mile 9) I’ll be okay if I don’t hit my A goal today. Really. It’s going to be hard to run this fast for 4 more miles.

Mile 10) Must. Not. Walk. If I start walking, it is going to be hard to start running again. Okay, maybe I’ll walk for just a few seconds. No wait, I’m too close to my goal.

Mile 11) Okay, if I just hit my goal, I promise I will never race a half marathon again. If I run, it will just be for fun. No time pressure.

Mile 12) This course and my GPS watch are clearly wrong. This is clearly longer than a mile. Why does this mile feel so much longer than all the other miles?!

Mile 13) SUCK IT UP. Seriously, just one more dumb mile and you’re done. Forever. Just make it to the finish line and I won’t ever sign up for another race.

Last 0.1) THERE’S THE FINISH LINE!!! I love running! Why would I never race again?! This is the best feeling! Look at me! Look at me! I am running so fast to the finish line! I love racing!

10 comments… add one
  • Renee October 14, 2017, 12:37 pm

    Mile 0: Just remember not to start too fast. You always start to fast and then bonk out
    Mile 1: This is fun! Look at all the costumes!
    Mile 2: Everyone is smiling! Life is great! Those people are getting married later today? Good for them
    Mile 3: Love the people who are cheering us on. So nice of them to get up early
    Mile 4: Aid station. Yes, please
    Mile 5: Are people drinking beer as they watch us run? That’s funny
    Mile 6: Okay, this is real. You’ve got this. Making progress
    Mile 7: Getting tired. So nice of these people to cheer us on
    Mile 8: Whew, still going. Wish I had done more training but just keep going
    Mile 9: Why did I get up so early to do this? I could still be sleeping. I paid money to not be sleeping.
    Mile 10: Have I always been running? Am I stuck in limbo?
    Mile 11: I’ll just walk a wee bit
    Mile 11.5: If I walk quickly, it’s almost like jogging
    Mile 12: No, back to running. Let’s just finish this.
    Mile 12.5: I am so done with this! I need new hobbies. ::rethinks life choices::
    Mile 13: My legs are not enough part of my body anymore. I have transcended the need for walking. Running is all I have
    Mile 13.1: Medal? Yes, thank you. I just need to shuffle over here and think my thoughts for a while. Oh, yes, banana — banana, where have you been all my life?

  • Bryant May 19, 2017, 4:37 pm

    My first Half-Marathon why am I doing this? Oh, yes to see if I can. All these runners look so young. I have grandkids older than some of these runners. Remember your goals: finish the race, finish under three hours, and don’t be last!
    Mile 0: Start last, must be polite.
    Mile 1: Setting a slow steady pace. I found out yesterday is all hills! Really?
    Mile 2: Yea, I am no longer last. I may be the oldest but not last.
    Mile 4: Passed my second runner.
    Mile 7: Passed two more. Hills, oh yes! I am beginning to think I catch one more runner, she is only a half mile ahead. It took a while but I have my second wind. I wave to a local farmer on his tractor he acknowledges my insanity with a shake of his head.
    Mile 10: I have halved the distance she is only a quarter of a mile ahead now.
    Mile 11: I should have set my 10K pace, legs don’t feel too bad.
    Mile 13: I can tell the next runner is laboring I plan to blow by her at the finish line.
    Mile 13.1: I make my move, well mentally I do. My legs say no you don’t your crazy!
    Finish Line: She finishes a 100 feet ahead of me! Well not too bad for a 78 year old. My time 2:56! Yes, next year.

  • Jim March 22, 2016, 10:56 pm

    Why am I depressed now? I ran a good race for my age 61, 2 hours 7 minutes, and my first race ever. I trained for 10 months for this run. Now I don’t want to run or do anything at the gym. What is wrong with me?

  • Lawrence January 24, 2016, 1:44 pm

    Starting car 4:45: – get up at 5 a.m. to get a parking spot by 5:45 to run at 7? Don’t they know I work out after work?
    Parking lot 0.0: – 5:45 a.m. and there’s still no parking left near the start line? ok this is a 13.9 miler now
    Mile 0.0 – 6 am. 615 am, 618 am, 630, 633, 640, 644, 645, 648 oh come on this is crazy
    Mile 0 – I got this PR today! – why is there always a slow one in front of me?
    Mile 1 – look at all these crazy people walking already (cue road rage)
    Mile 2 – aww the just married couple is running together
    Mile 3 – Is this really how they’re spending their honeymoon?
    Mile 4 – ok you’re married, youre running, OH Water Station!
    Mile 5 – there’s no way my gps is right says I’m way past 5
    Mile 5.5 – did i really do an extra 0.15 passing people already? Hi pros!
    Mile 6 – Woo hooo half way – crap this “ain’t” the turn around point
    Mile 7 – I’ll only walk to and away from the water stations
    Mile 8 – I’ll only walk once every 5 minutes – way ahead of PR so no biggie
    Mile 9 – How does 5-hr energy wear off in an hour and half? Lawyer!
    Mile 10 – just a 5k to go! Hey I can rip a 5K in under … what was my last time
    Mile 11 – seriously? smile? Ok its $24 for the pic i should smile – and never do this again
    Mile 12 – Just jog and run slightly more than you walk and I’ll never do this ever ever ever again. I’m not cut out for long runs. Never doing this again!
    Mile 13 – Last mile I got this – no I dont, yes I do, no, no, no dont you dare start singing Fight Song – @$$!! this is my fight song my bring….. gahhhhh
    Mile 13.1 – Run this out, get the medal, grab a selfie and brag brag brag – then silently never do this again.
    Finish line: Random strangers saying my name? Cheering for me? A PR by a min 15 seconds? (no that’s not a tear trying to come out no sir), Sign up for next year for half price? — Heck Yeah!

  • Ben December 7, 2015, 11:38 am

    My first half was full of runners math, after the second or 3rd:
    Mile 0: Why do I do this to myself? I can’t run 13 miles, and then another .1 on top of that is just silly. What am I thinking, I don’t belong here. Maybe they’ll call it off…please…oh please call it off. Oh wait, I think this every time…
    Mile 1: This isn’t so bad.
    Miles 2-10 “So far to go” and moments later, “I can’t believe I’ve already made it this far”. This is why I do this to myself, it’s a reward for my hard work and not a punishment, I want to do this every day!
    Mile 11: I hate you mile 11, I’ll show you!
    Mile 12-13.1 #@# Yeah!
    Mile 13.11 Where can I go to lay down and die? Bananas!? Then I’ll go find someplace to lay down and die.

    Starting line and mile 11 are the hardest. Everything else is win.

  • Evelyn October 12, 2015, 11:08 pm

    Hmm, maybe I should start my own 13.1 things for each half marathon?

    First half marathon–
    Mile 1: Wheeeeee! It’s the first mile of my first half marathon!
    Mile 2: Hill already? NBD. I’m feeling so energetic.
    Mile 3: *look at my GPS watch* Okay, I’m one minute ahead of my goal.
    Mile 4: Gravel road. Must be careful.
    Mile 5: The girl in front of me has a good pace.
    Mile 6: I’m almost halfway done!
    Mile 7: Here’s the turnaround. I’m feeling semi-okay. I got this.
    Mile 8: My abs hurts.
    Mile 9: Legs are getting… wait, I should not think about this. Look at this lake; it’s so pretty.
    Mile 10: Why do people keep passing me? I heard people do 10 miles of warm up and then a 5K race; is this a thing?
    Mile 11: Uphill? Hairpin turn? Wait WTF is this? This is totally unacceptable.
    Mile 12: Easy. Easy. Easy. I got this. I am so close to my goal!!!
    Mile 13: Here’s the parking lot and I can hear people cheering! Must sprint!
    Mile 13.1: Wheeeeee! I finished my first half marathon 2 minutes faster than my goal! Let’s do this again some other time!

    Second half marathon–
    Mile 1: Wheeeeee! So many people! So many colors! I love running! It’s like a parade!
    Mile 2: Downhill! Must gain some minutes here!
    Mile 3: Water station? And Gatorade, too? Who needs these at mile 3?
    Mile 4: Uh-oh, more downhill. It’s gonna be tough coming back up. Should still sprint.
    Mile 5: The elites are coming back already? Okay, I will get there in a few minutes.
    Mile 6: *Heard a friend cheering for me* I know I am suffering, but I should still fake a smile.
    Mile 7: I PR’d my 10K??! Really? It’s gonna be a tough second half…
    Mile 8: Lake again. This is so pretty.
    Mile 9: Okay, here comes the uphill. Pace, girl. Pace.
    Mile 10: “I’m aiming for 1:55” “I think we are on track of that” “I just wish I don’t hit the wall”
    Mile 11: Ugh why is the pavement so cracked up? Oh wait, Gatorade!
    Mile 12: Hill! Totally expecting this! I’m so gonna kill it!
    Mile 13: Yesyesyes PR is in my bag & I don’t even need to sprint!
    Mile 13.1: There’s the stadium and only half a lap to the finish line. Let’s sprint! I got this! Medal please! Let’s do a third one next week!

  • Scott May 14, 2015, 4:45 pm

    I think I have thought all those…During the recent Flying Pig Half, at mile 8 I thought, “Crap, I should have trimmed my toe nails…this could get painful”

    Need to start another list. Things I never thought I would see/hear at a Marathon or Half-Marathon.

  • Ali April 21, 2015, 10:20 am

    “runner’s math” is a normal thing?! I thought it was just me!

  • Doug March 22, 2015, 5:52 am

    Great Article, only missing a discussion about people walking already at miles 2, 3, etc.

    Good luck at Boston! Tell us about Boston math….:)

  • john February 28, 2015, 9:51 am

    Mile 1: Wow – this is a cool shirt
    Mile 2: Aid station so soon? Wimps
    Mile 3: Almost 1/4 done Feel great
    Mile 4: Oh finally another aid staion
    Mile 5: Over a 1/3 done I got this
    Mile 6: Water only? Where’s the Gatorade
    Mile 7: Is there a Half-Half Marathon category?
    Mile 8: No one said there was a hill
    Mile 9 Hmmmm – can my bladder hold out another 4 miles – those woods look acceptably private
    Mile 10: A 5 K to go!
    Mile 11: Last aid station til finish line!
    Mile 12: One mile (or so) left – wonder what refreshments are left?
    Mile 12.5 This one is dragging where’s the next mile marker???
    Mile 13: Who knew .1 miles could look so far away but sound close – I hear the race emcee voice
    Mile 13.1: Medal please. Hmmm…If I eat the cookies will I toss the cookies?

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