I am terrible at the starting line. Months of training for a half marathon and this was the second time I was late to the starting line. I woke up late, changed clothes, grabbed my gear, got out the door as fast as possible, hoped I wouldn't get stuck at a red light, and drove as fast as was reasonable. Of course being late meant all the parking lots near the starting line were full, so I parked in a garage halfway across town and ran 0.67 miles (I mapped it) to the starting line. I literally had 30 seconds between arriving at the start line and the start - just enough time to catch up with some friends.

And here's the charm of running local: it means you know half the runners in the race and you've run the route before - maybe several times before. You notice how new construction has popped up in some neighborhoods, how traffic is conveniently slow that morning, how the weather is pleasantly cool for April, how familiar faces wave from their front lawns, and you can ask your buddies for the correct distance and pace because apparently GPS watches don't like connecting to satellites when you're on the run. It means people who cheer for you by name on the route and a home crowd cheering at the finish line. Sure, it was at times charmingly disorganized in the days leading up to the race with the course reroute (not the organizers' fault; the town decided to change things up on them), and the slapdash packet pickup, but with a name like "Not So Normal" you can expect it to be, well, not so normal. Add to that how I bonked around mile 9 and how badly I misjudged some hills (I knew I would regret not doing more hill training), but when you PR by more than 6 minutes surrounded by friends then it's got to be a great race, right?

Absolutely great. Just remind me to set a decent alarm for the Tar Heel 10 Miler this year, and I'll see you out there.

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