Saturday, November 13th 2010 marked a day of triumph in the second half of my running career. I was about to attempt my very first half marathon. With no experience under my belt, a high expectation set and a frigid morning, I was looking to be unsuccessful at my attempt.
I woke up at 4:45 am and attempted to make it as much as a normal morning as possible. The only exception…no coffee. Man I havent gone without coffee in years. I hope it pays off. Coffee being a natural diuretic, I figured it would be in my best interest to not indulge. I stuck with my regular diet of oatmeal and blueberries. I finished off with a large glass of water. Hydration was of great importance on this morning.
I packed all me gear and checked and re-checked everything. It was 33 degrees out and I wanted to make sure I had all the proper gear to stay warm. My race attire would be a small pair of Road Runner Sports race shorts, Champion short sleeve compression base layer, Salomon ultra thin half zip short sleeve shirt, Peal Izumi compression sleeves, Nike gloves and Champion running skull cap. I would carry a bladderless Camel Bak around my waist to carry food and store my cap, gloves and sleeves if need be as I heated up along the run.
I checked my bag at the UPS trucks to have it shipped to the finish line. I left pants and a long sleeve for after the race in my bag so I would stay warm and not get those “my sweat is freezing” kinda feeling. As I turned around I realized the starting line was now forming into Wave 4. Damn, I was wave 1 and now I have to weasel my way through to the first wave. I made it, but not to my liking. I was stuck in the middle and not on the outside edge. I was in the back of the wave. It was sure to be a slow and difficult start. I was right. Lots of weaving, dodging, shoving and pushing. I ran most of the first half mile on the sidewalk.
The first 2 miles was a long straight stretch down Broad Street. By the time I got to mile two, things had opened up and people had already begun to lose their morning breakfast. Me, I was feeling great. I was on cloud 9. Everything was functioning as planned. As I rounded the corner to head up North Boulevard I heard an unsuspecting…”Hey is that David” It was a good friend who stopped at the street to cheer on us half marathoners. She was on her way to pick up her husband at the airport and took time out of her day to cheer us on in the cold. What a treat. I smiled, waived and headed on up the road passing yet another breakfast loser. What was wrong with people? It wasn’t even mile 3 yet.
We meandered through some old neighborhoods. Some good, some not so good. Crime was probably low on a cold Saturday morning. Somewhere around mile 3 to 5 I simply lost track of what was happening. I looked down at my GPS and I saw 5.2 and bout lost it. This race was rolling on. And then…woosh, there goes a Kenyan. He had already done the 2 mile loop through the park. I was shocked. By mile 5.5 one Kenyan was already 2 miles ahead. Holy Crap!
I hit the 10k point a bit slower than I would have liked. I was still on pace to finish very close to my goal of 1:30:00 or faster. I had to maintain and pursue. It was a good time to eat a GU and drink some good fluids. Miles 7-10 were another blur. Not to exciting really. They just happened. This was good so far. Then somewhere around mile 11 I began to feel the pains of all those miles before.
I was hurting. My legs were tiring out, but my spirit was extremely HIGH at the moment. I blocked everything out and reflected back on all my training. I thought about Justin and Steve and all their advice. I didn’t want to let them down. In my mind we were a team of sorts and I was the final leg of some relay. This was it. This was the moment. I told myself that I was gonna give it my all the last 5k of this thing. No turning back now. I asked myself…
“Goode, whatcha made of?”
I made my move and picked off several runners. Mile 11 was a 6:50 mile, mile 12 was a 6:52 mile. Mile 13…Mile 13…Mile 13…damn, this is it. It was kinda quiet. There were no runners with me. The crowd was compressed at the finish. All I had was me and the smooth rhythm of my stride. My quads were burning and my left calf was beginning to cramp. It was just pain, not an injury, so I had no worries. Push on.
My dad, who was my coach all through middle school and highschool, always pushed us to finish strong. No matter the workout, the ending was always gonna be fast and strong. I looked at my watch and realized I was off pace. I didn’t know exactly how off. My mind was in no mood to add and subtract minutes and divide by miles. I figured I needed to run my last mile in 6:30 or faster to reach my goal. I needed to finish strong.
Mile 12.1-13.1- This was the moment. I trained months for this. I worked my ass off for this moment. I was way too close to failing and that was not an option. Chills, not from the cold winds blowing, but from raw adrenaline, were covering my body. It was awesome! I rounded that last turn and saw thousands of spectators. The finish. There it was. I kicked it into high gear. I opened my stride and began churning my shoes at a faster rhythm. I looked at my watch. My current pace was a 4:20 mile. Holy crap my legs were rolling. As that last tenth of a mile came to a close, I grinned knowing I had done what I didn’t even think was possible. I finished a half marathon. I finished a half marathon in under 1:30:00.
My final stats-99th in the mens division, 110th overall. Time of 1:29:52 was good enough for 19th in my age division.
My proudest moment for that day. I drove downtown, parked downtown, drove out of downtown without one missed turn or getting lost. This country boy survived the BIG CITY!!!!