My wife seemed to think that I was more than ready to take the challenge. Not only did she challenge me to run a half marathon, she also arranged to have a friend run with me. Now, my friend has run several half marathons along with competing in several Half Ironman Triathlons. Although he is already an endurance athlete, this would be no walk in the park for me. My friend mapped out the route and the fuel stations (the wives and kids would be there to cheer us on and keep us fueled). He was to use running gel and I was to be "Essentially Fueled" with homemade gel made with chia seeds. The run was set for a cold Friday morning!
Preparation! With less than 3 weeks to prepare, my wife found a training program that would give me some sort of hope to be ready. Upon reading this program, I realized that strength training and recovery ARE very important for endurance athletes. That was very interesting to me because it would seem that in order to prepare for running long distances, you should "run long distances". I thought I needed to be like Forrest Gump and start "RUNNING!" I'm so glad I didn't follow my own ideas. They would have lead to some serious injuries. My training program lead me to run 2 short runs (2-3 miles) during the week and one long run (5-7 miles) on weekends. It's crazy to think that to prepare for 13.1 miles, you don't actually ever run 13.1 miles until the day of the race. It's weird to me because when training for strength and for sprints, you actually do your max attempts and full speed sprints several times during training and preparation. This endurance stuff is way outside my "box".
Race day! It was a blistering 27 degrees (blistering for Texans, that is)! I was layered from head to toe to beat the wind and the cold. I left my home looking like a ninja with only my eyes exposed. I didn't know what to expect, being my first half marathon. I prayed that God would keep me injury-free, and He delivered! Water and fuel was perfect! It was awesome seeing the families cheering us on at the fuel stations and playing "Rocky" music in the SUV. They kept us pumped and moving. As previously mentioned, my lungs were on fire, my legs were heavy and my feet were numb but it was refreshing to run 2 hours and 18 minutes with the coaching and motivation of my friend and brother, Tony. He talked me through every step of the run from how to properly breathe to how to pick up the pace by slightly leaning forward. We even had some good fellowship. My experience lead me to believe that, in life, we should always run our race with someone else. That someone else could be your wife, siblings, best friends, accountability partners, etc. "Two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT. Don't travel through this life alone.
The Blessing! As we ran, we realized that we misjudged the route and ended up running 13.8 miles instead. while burning about 2000 calories. (Those chia seeds where a life-saver, since I'm used to running at 4:30am on an empty stomach.) Believe it or not, the last mile was one of the fastest at under 9 minutes, thanks to the pace set by Tony. Now, I have to figure out how I'm going to be ready to run a full 26.2 miles at the Dallas Marathon in December! Pray for me! Or better yet; run with me! Stay tuned... Blessings!!!