Seriously, no one has any business running 13 miles.
On the flip side, running 13 miles does save you about $6.00 of gas nowadays. So maybe it does have some perks.
But for me, it wasn’t about filling up the tank. It was about emptying it.
I wanted to see how far I could go… how much I could push.
As I often talk about, I truly believe running is a powerful metaphor for life. There are so many signals and signs, learnings and lessons, that come from pounding the pavement. It tests your body, mind, and heart.
At the beginning of this year, I made a commitment to myself to do what was once unthinkable to me: Run a full marathon. Last weekend, I took the first step, running a half-marathon at the Cincinnati Flying Pig. Definitely the most intimate pork experience of my life. 🙂
Pre-Game: I had only run double digit miles once – 7 days earlier – but I was pumped to set a personal best. The day before the race, I picked up my runner’s “bib”, indulged in a body massage, and inhaled two plate-fulls of spaghetti and meat balls for dinner. From now on when I overeat I’m gonna call it “carb loading.”
Before bed, I laid out my gear. There is nothing wrong with lookin’ pretty while you sweat. 😉
Start: The start was electric. Before sunrise, the streets were packed with more than 30,000 people waiting to make a run for it… Ready to chase down their goals. And the sidelines were packed with supporters braving the early morning wind, rain, and cold to cheer everyone on. The energy was contagious.
I’d been looking forward to this run for months and all the sudden it was here. The best way to capture a moment is to experience it with all your senses. I really tried to soak it all in. (And apparently, I also tried to get in some last minute groin stretches.)
Miles 0-2: These first few miles flew by. My adrenaline was pumping, and while our pace was slow from being packed shoulder to shoulder, it was a beautiful scene crossing the bridge from Ohio into Kentucky. I was running side by side with my friend, Ashwin Nathan, which made the whole experience much cooler. This connection with people would become the secret to my race.
Miles 2-3: The rain was coming down hard and, 20 minutes into the race, one of my headphones stopped working. Right in the middle of one of my favorite jams! But when the music shut off, I heard a different soundtrack… Crowds cheering and strangers clapping. Yells of motivation and shouts of inspiration. Sweat met by smiles.
Losing the music in my ear was a blessing, because it revealed a much more powerful sound: Encouragement.
Miles 3-5: The theme of this part of the race was “To Pee or Not to Pee.” Seriously. What is it about the bladder that seems to buldge at the most inopportune times. I scanned mile markers for Port-o-Potty’s but they had LINES of runners waiting for them. Lines?? This was mile 3?!
I thought of going all Navy Seal and peeing down my leg but figured chafed thighs and parched nipples were enough pornography for one race. So I told myself I wasn’t stopping. Our mind is more powerful than we think. Debate over. (And legs dry :)).
Miles 5-8: My feet didn’t touch the ground during this stretch. I was carried by the crowd.
Mile 5 cut through downtown and I knew it’d be packed with people. I had told Ashwin that I wanted to pick up the pace here, and I did. Every wave, smile, and fist-pump was a jolt of energy. This was my fastest mile (7:09).
Familiar faces gave me super powers. I saw Henna Tayyeb cheering on 7th street. We bumped fists and I got goosebumps. One of my mentors, Chris Heiert, was screaming my name as I headed up the hill. I ran into my friend Jeremy Behler at the top of the park. I slapped Elvis on the butt. Once again, people were my fuel.
Miles 8-11: This was the toughest stretch. My legs were hurting from the run up the hills, and the crowds thinned out along the course. It was a lonely contrast to the rest of the race. This is where I had to push myself on my own. I talked to the trees. Got my breathing right. Found my rhythm. Focused.
I started to get a cramp at mile 9 but I told it to go away. I slowed down, but I kept my legs moving. Motivation is a mind game.
Miles 11-Finish: This part of the race was all downhill… decorated with signs and serenaded by sounds. It was fun with the young kids on the sidelines. I screaming “Turbo Boost!” as I slapped their hands for support.
I had visualized the end of the race for weeks, and pictured myself finishing strong. As soon as I caught a glimpse of the finish line, I gave it everything I had.
I learned a lot during this run, and plan on sharing a lot of thoughts in the coming weeks on the blog.
I was reminded again about the power of people and the importance of the energy of those around us. When the road got tougher, I found comfort in the helping hands and positive voices. When I was the most tired, I listened the hardest.
I also learned that it’s not just about accomplishing our goals. It’s about whose there to greet us at the finish line.
Cant wait till 26.2.
ps – Yall should try this pre-game ritual of mine. Works every time. 😉