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The joys of running

| Thursday, April 6, 2017

Saturday morning, Stepan Center was buzzing with excitement as runners stretched, chatted and commiserated over the upcoming 13.1 miles we were all about to undertake, a feat that is still probably less painful than the chemistry and physics exams that happen in the same space.

As with a surprising majority of Notre Dame students, I ran cross-country in high school. To put it bluntly, it was my life. Everything revolved around my practice and race schedule, and it seemed that every moment was either running, looking forward to (or sometimes dreading) my next run or recovering from my last one. When high school graduation hit, I “retired” and began to “run for fun.” I was worried about having no one to run with at Notre Dame. I couldn’t have been more wrong, as was proven with the short amount of time that it took for the Holy Half to fill up to capacity. Though my competitive running career has long since been over, I appreciated the Holy Half as an opportunity for me to relive the glory days.

I was surprised by the number of people I knew who decided to train for the half with no running background. That’s the beauty of the sport; it can be picked up at any time by anyone who puts in the time and effort. Hand-eye coordination isn’t even a requirement. Once you start you can’t stop. It might be the most health benefiting addiction in existence. The adrenaline rush that one feels as a race is about to start is somewhat similar to what I imagine running through tunnel in the Notre Dame stadium would be like.

Granted, finishing the Holy Half may not be quite the same as scoring a touchdown in front of 80,000 plus people, but after months of training it sure does feel like it. Around mile 11, when my legs were tired and my shoes felt as if they were made of bricks, I cannot put into words how encouraging it was to see people lining the sidewalks with signs and music. Maybe it was the dehydration mixed with sheer exhaustion talking, but I had an overwhelming feeling of the Notre Dame family. Strangers cheering for strangers; runners finishing the race and heading back to the finish line to cheer for their friends. I think that in the midst of the all the pain — it’s no secret that running is not an entirely pleasant experience and requires a certain level of insanity — it’s incredible to see the positive culture that runs such as the Holy Half create.

So congratulations to all of the runners. You may not be Division I athletes, but if you can run a half-marathon you definitely didn’t peak in high school. Here’s to the closest we’ll ever get to Notre Dame athletics.

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