Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why We Race

So I suppose I'll soon need to turn in my blogger badge and credentials for not posting this week. I know my throngs of adoring fans have probably been waiting on pins and needles just to hear how the Francis Marion Dirt Dash Trail Half Marathon went last weekend.

Before I speak about the half, let me give some background on where this week has gone. I didn't have time to do much on the blog while in Charleston, and when we got back, it was late Sunday night. Monday morning I woke up with a sore throat which worsened through the day. Tuesday I woke up and decided that I would just "run through it", so I set out for my 12 miler. I made it about 6.5 miles in before I figured I'd soon be a lifeless lump on the side of the road, so I had Christy come and pick me up. When we got home I found out I had a fever, which continued throughout most of the day Tuesday and Wednesday. I felt better on Wednesday night and wrote this blog.

Well not THIS blog. When I came back on Thursday evening to edit it and send it out, I did some kind of voodoo magic erasey thing...then decided to hit the back button on my browser. Much to my chagrin Blogger saves everything almost instantly...even mistakes, and my wonderfully written blog post that would have changed the world was gone FOREVER.

So it is Saturday morning, exactly one week after the half, and here I am...writing it (again).

You may remember that I was looking for a "tune up" run before the Marine Corps Marathon, and had toyed around with this one as we have some good friends who live near the course in Mount Pleasant. What put me over the top on it though was another one of our dear friends said that she had picked it out as her first half. That was all I needed to hear. Its officially a couples weekend in Charleston! woohoo.

Avid readers of the blog and of DailyMile will remember my friends who are running their fist half marathon. Jacci and Greg are the angels who appeared at mile 16 of the Thunder Road Marathon to bring me a PB&J and cheer Christy and I on to our very first marathon. It was such a treat to be able to return the favor and be with them as they took on their first half.

When we left on Friday we thought it would be fitting to do something to let everyone know what we were up to...
 I'm "Forrest"...a little humor from my wife
We got a bit of a late start, and our friends in Mt. Pleasant picked up our bibs for us. She also had a great pre-race dinner waiting for us too. You can't get that kind of service at a hotel! We all settled in for the early morning wake-up call.

I got up at 4:45 to do my typical pre-race routine..shower, eat breakfast then dry heave til I get to the race. Check! I tried to put on a brave face for the first timers, but it certainly seemed that I was more nervous than they were. We arrived at the Francis Marion National Forest and parked. We then took a bus, then a golf cart just to get to the starting area. By the time we arrived at the starting area we had about 45 minutes before the race kicks off. Now I should say that in the middle of the forest it is a.) very dark and b) very quiet. The complete darkness made using the portable toilets a bit of an adventure.I don't like using those things anyway...but in the dark, it ratchets up the skeeve factor about 1000%.

It was about this time that I discovered that I had left my carefully concocted nutrition handheld in the refrigerator back at the house. (you see? this is why I dry heave) Greg handed me a bottle of water he had, and I figured I'd carry it, and figure something out on the course.

We wished each other well and got ready for the start. My goal was a sub 1:45, as my previous half PR was 1:46:07 on a road course. I didn't know what to expect, other than this course was flat...really flat. Most of the race was run on fire service roads, so you could see forever down these straight paths. Less than .5mi was actually run on what most people would call "real" trails. I settled into a 7:30ish pace and I felt like I could hold that for a while. It wasn't long before I was completely alone. Nearing the 2 mile mark I came upon the first aid station. They advertised that they'd have Hammer Heed (Gatorade like drink) Hammer Gels, and Water. I asked the attendant for the Heed, and he handed me a gel pack. (sigh) While running I looked at the back of the pack and decided just to squeeze the contents into the bottle and let the chips fall where they may. The flavor was chocolate...what was in my bottle looked....uhh...gross.

I couldn't believe how great I felt. I was holding a sub 7:45 pace and felt like I was just cruising. The Hammer Gel was doing well on my stomach, so that was an amazing relief. I was starting to get tired near the end, and was counting down the minutes til the end when I passed the 12 mile marker. Unfortunately my watch said I was at 12.25. I was REALLY hoping that sign was wrong. As I neared the finish I could make out 1:41 was nearing 1:42, so I really started sprinting, as my new goal was to break 1:42. Fortunately I did. My time was 1:41:54 for 13.26 miles.

Now you should know, that I have never run that fast, that far...EVER That is an extremely good feeling to have to build confidence for this marathon.

When I crossed, they gave my my....uhh...medal?


Why yes, that is a thin slab of pine with a rubber stamped image on it tied to a string. I can tell you're a real connoisseur of the finer things. I'm all for different and funky medals, but geez louise...

My disappointment with the medals aside, my job has now turned from runner to chief motivator and cheerleader for those remaining on the course. So, with my belly full of watermelon (which is a GREAT post race food by the way) bananas and water, I start looking for my friends. Christy, Greg and Jacci have stayed together all doing the Jeff Galloway method of Run/Walk/Run, so I am able to send and receive texts with Christy while she's on the course to find out how things are going and where they are. Around mile 10, Greg broke off from them to finish the rest of the race running, and he looked like he had just finished a morning jog, not a 13 mile run through the woods!

I looked like I had been beaten for 6 days after my first half marathon..this guy looks fresh as a daisy.
Greg told me after my marathon that I had inspired him to run a half. He's had a LOT to deal with this year, not to mention working crazy police officer shifts and all kinds of private event security jobs, but still found the time to dedicate to running. I can't tell you how proud I am of him.

In just a bit we saw our ladies on the horizon...they were all smiles as they crossed as well. Jacci had battled through stomach pain for about 5 miles, but Christy helped her to keep her mind off the pain by providing comic relief, or just talking nonsense to her. Jacci kept pushing on anyway, absolutely willing herself to the finish. Here is the picture just after she crossed.


People may ask you, "Why do you do run?" "Why do you put your body through that?" Those people may never know the feeling in this picture. Its that feeling that you have overcome so many obstacles, the hard training days, the early mornings, the bouts with potty breaks, the injuries, the good runs and the bad. Not to mention all of life that still goes on while you're training. Its that feeling of setting and achieving an impossible goal for yourself. A feeling of being so exhausted inside both mentally and physically, but so joyful inside. Its a feeling that you just can't get on a training run.

It is this picture. This is why we do it.

I'm just so glad that I got to share in the journey.


Kesha said...

Love it! Awesome race and experience to share. I can't wait to greet you both at the MCM finish! Now THAT will be a medal!

Carol Anne Wright Swett said...

Oh DANG! You all make me wish I was young again and that I had not broken my ankle! I'm hoping to do the run at Furman around T-giving...but now w/ all that talk of dry heaving, I'm thinking maybe I need to go lay down till I get over this crazy running goal! Love your blog Randy! The 4 of you are a real inspiration to me~!

tiana said...

Wow, congrats on the great time......

Also, what a neat experience to be able to share that with friends.

Great post! Keep on keeping on!

jacci24 said...

Okay Mr. Coffee! Tears at the race and now reading your blog. You know we don't do tears! Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration, for driving us down and always providing great entertainment. Oh and for loaning me your wife. She is so awesome. DON'T YOU FORGET IT! I love you forever! Let's do it all again in January!

Ken and Christie said...

You nailed the "why do we do it" right on the head. It's hard to explain that feeling. I may steal your whole paragraph one day... one day. ;)
Great job on breaking your time, on living to blog about it, and on being an inspiration to Jacci and Greg. I love the photos and your recap. And, um, go easy on us Francis Marion folk. We tend to be a little "backwoods" and you gotta admit that you will never forget your lovely medal/neck-hanging thingy!! --Christie