Students train for Half Marathon

Runners talk preparation, inspiration, motivation for upcoming race


Junior Eva Spak participates in a race to prepare

Bennett Trubey

On your marks, get set, go! The Dallas Half Marathon takes place on Dec. 11. As racers line up on the early December morning, among them will be three students. 

Harper Harris, Sarah Connolly and Eva Spak shared how they are preparing for the Half this holiday season.

Field hockey tryouts sparked Junior Harper Harris’ love of running. At the beginning of the fall season, she planned to play field hockey, as she had as both a freshman and a sophomore. During tryouts, however, she quickly realized how much she enjoyed running.

“It’s a sport that I can do by myself, and it’s sort of like therapy,” she said. Harris put field hockey behind her and registered for the Dallas Half Marathon. 

“I didn’t want to do cross country, I wanted to do it for myself, so I signed up for the race,” she said. 

Harris’ training plan included 12 weeks of running and workouts. She runs four to five times a week – short runs on weekdays and distances on weekends. On the days she isn’t running, she keeps improving with strength training and cross-fit. 

Harris also participated in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day with her mother, to prepare for running the Half Marathon. She looks forward to the Half and having her first race experience under her belt.

“I think the finish is going to be emotional because all the people have spent so long training for the Half, and to finish with all these people that you don’t even know, it’s like a bonding experience,” Harris said.

Like Harris, senior Sarah Connolly only recently began running outside of her sport. 

“My dad and I made a bet,” Connolly said. “I’ve never really been a long-distance runner, I was just running short distances because of soccer.”

Because of the little experience she had in running long-distance, Connolly bet her father that she would run in the Half. Connolly’s training began in August, and she has been running short to long distances weekly. One of her most recent runs was seven miles long.

“I didn’t enjoy doing it at first but once you get into the rhythm of it, it’s really enjoyable,” Connolly said. 

Some of her friends offered to join her in the race, but she declined, opting to run independently.

“I thought it would be a lot more empowering for me if I do it alone,” she said.

Junior Eva Spak also had not run long distances frequently before deciding to participate in the Half Marathon. 

“I’ve never done a marathon,” Spak said. “I just finished cross country season — I had run a bunch of 5Ks and liked those, but that was the longest distance I’ve ever run.” 

She joined the cross country team for the first time for the 2022 season and has yet to look back. 

“I enjoy running,” Spak said. “I think it’s a good place to let all my frustrations out, clear my head and be alone with my thoughts.” 

To prepare for the Half, the Spak is continuing her cross country training, working on her speed and endurance. Spak also joined a high school running club, where she practices and runs weekend races.

“I wanted to finish this year out with a bang,” she said.

Spak said the decision to sign up for the race was spontaneous and she wanted to do something different her junior year.

As all three runners look forward to take their places the morning of the Dallas Half Marathon. Connolly plans to have friends and family at mile markers to cheer her on, and Spak and Harris both look forward to the feeling of accomplishment once they cross the finish line.