Training for a race is book-ended by excitement. On the front end, there’s the rush of registering — the planning and potential. On the back end, there’s the thrill of finishing — the motivation and medals. Both ends are events in their own right, and each is worthy of praise, enthusiasm, and cleverly worded Facebook posts.

Between those two highs, there’s the unglamorous middle. This is where I’ve been for the past several weeks and where I’ll stay for the next month or so. I’m scheduled to run a half marathon in May, and this weekend I ran six and a half miles. 6.55 to be exact, or precisely half my race distance. It wasn’t my fastest run (I’m still paying for two weeks of birthday cake and Shamrock Shakes), but my pace stayed even and my thoughts stayed positive.

The exciting extremes may be what what people remember, but I’m right in the good part now. I’m deep enough into training where I’m strong, but not yet pushing myself toward injury or fatigue. The middle is where the real heart lies. Right now, my training is entirely my own, motivated by drive and discipline. I’m not running at sunrise for attention. I’m running because I’m alive and healthy and capable

I had my initial adrenaline rush when I signed up for the race, and I’ll have another when I cross the finish line But right now, I’m enjoying a different type of joy that only the steadiness of the middle can provide.

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