Here we go! A guest post from a guy AND runner. Scott is my BFF's husband (remember their wedding?) and it's been great to watch how far he's come with his running passion. I really had a great time talking about his running goals during his grooms run last fall and it is amazing to see that he's accomplished the goal we talked about then. I do believe he says there's a triathlon in his future! ;-)
All through last summer and fall, I watched my distance increase from one mile to over six. My fiancé, at the time, and I were eating clean and it showed; my weight dropped down to 180. In the fall, I was in the best shape I’d ever been in and just in time to marry the love of my life. The morning of our wedding, in the early October chill, Amber and I went for a run and talked about fitness goals. It was then that the goal of running a half marathon took shape.
Throughout out the winter, I continued to run when the weather was agreeable. I ended up running over 160 miles that year. When spring came around, I decided it was time to solidify the goal and registered for the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon. Shortly after that, my wife and I set off on our delayed honeymoon cruise. We ate, danced, and had a great time. My training slipped and could tell I lost some muscle and gained some fat again. It was then I realized I needed to get serious. Through the spring, my training progressed and I was running 8 to 9 miles comfortably, although my post cruise weight hadn’t dropped. In the beginning of July, I set out for my longest run yet: 11 miles. During that run, I hit a wall at 10.5 miles. My legs hurt so bad I could hardly sit still for the drive home. I thought to my self, "How am I going to run 13.1 in another 2 weeks?"
My wife and I took the long drive to Chicago arriving in the city just in time to get to the expo and pick up my race package. I felt overwhelmed around all these runners, many in great shape, visiting with vendors with great running gear on display. I was still feeling heavy here from our honeymoon and not sure how well I’d do.
That night, we enjoyed the local favorite, Chicago deep-dish pizza. It was good and well worth the wait. As we went to bed, I settled on three goals for the race: start slowly, take in this experience, and try to finish without having to walk.
That morning, I was up on time and ready to go. I felt good and didn’t have too many nerves. We found parking and could see all kinds of people with their race numbers displayed walking towards Grant Park. It was then, as I began to see, what over 18,000 runners in one area really looked like. My wife had her chair in hand and we discussed having her sit near 8 miles to cheer me through where I anticipated my mental wall.
By the third mile, I could see lines 20 and 30 deep of people waiting for one of the many port-potty’s set up along the route. I thought to myself, I am glad I don’t need to be in that line. Many people I passed were walking already. Some of these people who I thought were in much better shape than I. There were a few bands and cheering squads at each mile so it was a great distraction for how far I still needed to go. By the time I got to many of the water stations, I felt like I had come upon a traffic jam. I found the volunteers holding out water each time and made it though as quickly as I could. I was still feeling great and when I saw my wife, my spirits lifted and I got that mental and speed boost I needed.
Mile 10 came up and I could feel my pace slowing. I could see many people that blew past me in the beginning walking now. Some on the side of the route were standing and waiting for others or just cheering. I found myself glad that I had the motivation to keep going. I hit my wall at mile 11 this time. I was surprised I felt good for so long and didn’t want to give up so close to the finish line. I stuck by my guns and didn’t walk (although I felt like my pace was one step ahead of my grandmothers walking stride). In the last 2 miles, the crowd became so large it was surreal. I felt like each one was cheering me on. I toughed through it and found the strength to pick up my stride and gave a last little sprint to the finish. There it was, 13.1. I did it! I finished the race, I felt great, and I didn’t walk. I was behind my estimated finish time by only 90 seconds, which I was bummed out about until I realized before this race, I only ran 10.5 miles consecutively. I was thrilled to be done and surprised my legs felt great: stiff with out much pain at all. I did it. I completed my goal and what’s more…I can’t wait to do it again!