This Sunday, July 8, I’m going to wake up at 4 a.m. Then I’m going to go run 13.1 miles. If it sounds crazy, that’s because it is.

The funny thing is that there will be literally thousands of people doing the exact same thing on the exact same morning. In fact, some of them will actually be running 26.2 miles — twice as far! So obviously, I’m not the only crazy person, and I’m definitely not the craziest.

Sometime back in February or March, I thought that training for the Missoula Half-Marathon sounded like a fantastic idea. Over the course of my running career, I’ve completed dozens of 5Ks and a handful of 10Ks, and I figured it was time for a new challenge.

So, I slowly began to build up my mileage. Training wasn’t so bad once the weather got nicer, and I was lucky enough to have a friend who was willing to go on most of my long runs with me. About a month out from race day, I was feeling pretty confident about my ability to not only finish the race, but to be at least semi-competitive.

But when July 1 hit and I realized that I was only a week away from racing 13.1 miles — more than 6 miles farther than I’ve ever raced before — I couldn’t help but panic a little. Then I remembered that I wouldn’t be alone.

In addition to the thousands of people who will be lining up at the starting line, there will be thousands more lining the streets of Missoula and cheering for those of us who are crazy enough to go the distance.

I’ve participated in this event as a spectator many times, and I’ve always been left feeling amazed and inspired. So, if you get the chance to come out and cheer, I highly recommend it, and I think I speak for the entire racing field when I say it would be greatly appreciated. (If you have a garden hose or sprinkler you’d like to make available to the hordes of hot, sweaty runners, that also would be greatly appreciated.)

See you on race day!

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.