Published: 03/24/2011 at Clayton Glasco
It seems that every adult, young or old, gets the itch at some point to test their will and try a marathon. Most will start with a half, which is 13.1 miles. I’ve run a half marathon and I still can’t figure out the appeal. I think part of it is to have a goal that will get your body into shape. Some people are seeking a hobby, and what’s more basic with fewer barriers to entry than running? Nonetheless, many people brave the trials and hit the rode. For me it was a bluff that I was called out on. My father was on a health kick. He had begun running a little and expressed interest during a phone call that he wanted to run a half marathon someday. I ate my words a few months later, but at the time said “Dad, if you run a half marathon, I’ll run it with you.” I guess that’s all of the motivation he needed because I couple weeks later I got an email confirmation for the Fort Lauderdale half marathon that “I” signed up for. That didn’t take long…
I’m not a runner. I’m not an endurance athlete. I actually hate running. It bores me. I count my paces and concentrate on the fact that I’m gasping for air. I was 5’9” and at the time approximately 200 lbs. I wasn’t completely out of shape but I was bulky. At the time that I started I wasn’t even a consistent one miler. So I did what I think many in my shoes would do, I downloaded a training schedule and hit the streets. I started slow, but gradually gained a bit of endurance. I picked up a Nike+ for my iPod to track my runs. To my shock, I actually stayed pretty disciplined with my runs. I was up around six miles and feeling pretty good about myself. My dad was progressing a little faster, but I wasn’t worried and I still talked smack with every conversation. No son thinks that their fifty year old dad is going to beat them athletically. I was on the right track until…the shin splints kicked it.
Shin splints are one of the most debilitating injuries that you can incur especially if you’re a runner. It feels like you need your legs amputated below the knees. There’s no way to cure them, you just have to lay off. If you’re training for something, this is a nightmare. I figured out that I could run on a treadmill fairly pain free, so I did. I would run up to an hour and a half, hit the elliptical and the bike, and felt like I was still building my endurance. I did this up to race day and just figured that I’d lay it all out there in one day.
Race day came and I met my dad at his hotel by the starting line. It’s 6 AM in Fort Lauderdale and a beautiful day. I did some stretching but still had no idea what to expect. I did know the course and it’s not a distance that I really like to drive, let alone run, but whatever, I’m in it! It’s a large crowd, and we herd to the starting line and take off.
This is my first race ever. If you’ve never run a race, I can tell you that the first three miles are the easiest you’ve ever run. You’re with a pack, you’re adrenaline is carrying you, and you’re feeling pretty good. From mile four to seven, the company around me started to thin out. My pace felt pretty good, but at mile six my Nike+ was telling me that I had run 7.5 miles. Technology had been giving me some false confidence and I figured that the most I had really run preparing was five miles. They say that you really need at least ten miles under your belt to work through a half marathon.
By seven miles I was exhausted. I felt good about what I had done so far but still had six to go! I’m watching the front of the pack pass in the opposite direction and still had three miles to the turn. I’m slowing considerably. An 80 year old man passes me…I’m embarrassed. A group of overweight speed walking women pass me…I’m mortified. I hit the ninth mile and my knee was shot. I struggled in the past with my IT Band and it crept up again. My run was over. I somehow managed to walk the final three just to finish and then collapsed. My knee tightened and I was done walking for two days. My dad had beaten me by an hour. He was impressive, and to his credit has lost about 50 lbs. and has since run countless more.
My running career ended that day. I have no desire to do anything like that again. I took solace in margaritas and the beach the rest of the day and closed a chapter in my autobiography. If you do get the itch at some point in your life to do the same, may God be with you, train hard, and don’t trust your Nike+…