What I hear from you + 21 gorgeous half marathons over bridges

“The first half hour I run is for my body. The last half hour, for my soul. In the beginning, the road is a miracle of solitude and escape. In the end, it is a miracle of discovery and joy. Throughout, it brings an understanding of what William Blake meant when he said, ‘Energy is eternal delight.’” — George Sheehan, “Running & Being: The Total Experience”

I hope you’ve had a wonderful 4th of July so far, especially if you got out to run Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race or one of the many great races that take place around the country today.

Today I wanted to take a moment and share some of the stories that I hear from you when you write me each week after the newsletter goes out — stories that are by turns amazing, interesting, curious, strange, heartwarming and fascinating, and everything in between.

This week I heard from a reader named Karla in Pennsylvania, who shared what I’m sure is a hurdle for many, many runners out there: what to do with your kids on race day:

“I would love to run more races but as a single mother with no family it is very difficult. I posted this before on a Facebook running page & found that I am not alone in this. Many people would love too run more if the races offered childcare.

Even couples who run don’t always have someone too watch their kids while they run races together. I would definitely pay more to be able to have my daughter there at the races with me & be able to travel with me.”

Karla, what I’ve found is that there has been a drumbeat building for the past few years for better options for race day childcare, if articles like this one and this one from Runner’s World are any indication.

The Rock & Roll Marathon & Half Marathon series of races worked with an organization called RaceKids to offer day camps for kids at several of their 2015 races, but don’t appear to be offering it at any of this year’s races.

Most events that encourage families to participate, however, do so by offering races and other athletic events for kids — whether it’s a “kids’ marathon,” 10K, 5K, 100-meter dash, one-mile run, etc.

Training on the Other Side of the World

One of the most fascinating things for me is to hear from subscribers in some of the world’s most far-flung places. I heard this week from a reader who lives in a city called Dushanbe, the capital of the Republic of Tajikistan, a country in central Asia.

And just a few weeks ago, I heard from a reader named Jackie, an American who is currently living and teaching in Saigon, Vietnam. Previously, she lived and taught in Guangzhou, China, where a fellow teacher urged her to sign up for and run the Macau Half Marathon near Hong Kong, which she did.

(This is Jackie, by the way, from a photo she took in Jerusalem.)

The experience of running in so many different places around the world has been eye-opening in a big way, she wrote me.

Especially an experience she had a few weeks ago, when she was greeted by Saigon’s famous street rats when she ventured out for a run one night — the same night three “gentleman guards” offer to watch over her gear while she ran:

“Whilst jogging in a park here one evening, I prepared to get on my motorbike and was greeted by the infamous Saigon rats who munch on city garbage around 8 p.m.  I just took a deep breath of the motorbike street pollution nearby, the humidity, and remembered the kind guard at the park who offered to watch my water bottle and cap while I made a few laps around the park.

“My things sat next to his tea set.  He waved to me as he was settling into his cot at the park for the night. I remembered that jogging, running, connects us to nature, to cities, to people, worldwide. 

“And because we are making contact with the earth with intention, sweat, and hopes, others pick up on that and reach out to us, especially in the so-called developing countries like Vietnam and Palestine. 

“The irony is that they are far more developed in connecting in a public way than many ‘first-world’ countries, [and] the communal atmosphere is warm and friendly and memorable. 

Amen, sister.

I hope each of you has a really wonderful holiday, as it’s a great time to reflect on what our country means to us, what our fellow citizens mean to us, and what this now 242-year-long experiment we call America is all about.

Personally I haven’t been able to get in a run yet today, but I hope to before the sun goes down. (It’s been a hot one here in the ATL!) If I don’t talk with you or hear from you before next time, have an amazing weekend and let me know how your running goes.

As always, keep in touch!

Your friend,

— Terrell

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The Toughest Half Marathon You’ll Want to Plan a Trip Around

“THE NIGHT before the race, I started to freak out. A few nerves are normal, I know, but this was different. In my past as a very amateur competitive runner, I’d climb into bed on the eve of a race and fret about whether I’d set the alarm for p.m., not a.m.; whether it would even go off; where I’d go for breakfast after the run. But here I was, lying on a cot in a canvas tent in northern Kenya, hours before the start of a half marathon, worrying about lions. As in being eaten by one.”

— Billed by organizers as the “world’s toughest half marathon,” this great Wall Street Journal piece covers Kenya’s Safaricom Marathon & Half Marathon, which unfolds across a 55,000-acre game reserve filled with rhinos, giraffes, zebras, elephants and more. It’s said that 364 days a year, guests aren’t allowed to roam free among the wildlife. But race day is different.

My Confidence Was At an All-Time Low, Until I Discovered Running

“Nearly a decade ago, my life was consumed with being a wife, a mom to two toddlers, and a full-time pharmacist. Every day, I jumped out of bed and started my day in a rush. I was constantly stressed and let my emotions rule the rest of my waking hours. Fitness never even really crossed my mind, it was so out of reach. I felt like taking an hour for myself each day would be selfish.”

— Leigh Yates expresses a feeling I’m sure many of you feel: guilt about taking time for yourself when you have so many other responsibilities in life. One of the things I found most interesting was this quote from her interview with Women’s Health, when she says, “I didn’t lose a pound during training, but after that race, I fell in love with running.”

An Out of Shape Slob’s Guide to Running

“After a brief yet depressing post-shower encounter with a full-length mirror half a year ago, I decided to take up running. My encounter with the mirror came at a time when several family members and people close to me died from a myriad of reasons in a short span of time. When you experience a wave of death like that it’s impossible not to think deeply about your own mortality.”

— A part-hysterical, part-moving account of a total, complete beginner’s experience with starting running in Vice. The writer, Mack Lamoureux, even rings up longtime Runner’s World columnist John Bingham, who gives some great advice: “It’s not a good idea to run 10 miles this week and not run again for three weeks. You’ve got to find a way to find that consistency, it’s gotta be important to you. Think of it like brushing your teeth.” Really, really wise words.