The year 2017 was when I hit the big 3-0. It was also the year I ran my first competitive race.
Going back, it was certainly an off-the-cuff remark, much less than a true commitment. Other than turning 30 that year, there wasn’t a real driver or reason to make what was, at the time, a rash decision. I was an otherwise unremarkably healthy person without pre-existing conditions or maladies. Just kind of a run of the mill young guy working on a dad bod.
Samantha immediately questioned whether it was a good idea. By the time I committed to that first race (the Houston Half-Marathon, 10/29/2017) in mid-July, there were only around three months of training time left. In Houston Texas. In the middle of summer.
Maybe she was right.
Those first few runs were tough. Looking back at historical records from the tracking app I was using at the time (UA Map My Run), my pace (around 10 minutes/mile) was well above my race pace (9 minutes/mile). Not to mention I was only running a quarter of the distance, sometimes less.
For those three months I’d like to think I trained ok for a first-time runner. There wasn’t a weekend long-run group I had joined, or anyone else I knew of running that race. Just me and my desire to prove a point to myself (and maybe to Samantha).
Overall, I ended up running exactly 30 times before the big day, for a total of roughly 90 training miles. My longest training run was 7.4 miles on 10/25/17, four days before the 13.1 mile trek. The most interesting run was probably a 6 miler on 8/26/17, as Hurricane Harvey was rolling through the area.
I had checked the radar before leaving and thought there was enough time to get in a training run, knowing that the coming days would be less than ideal conditions. Halfway or so through that run, I was in an adjacent neighborhood in what can only be described as an immediate downpour, Texas-style. I continued plodding through the ankle-deep street water, pledging to make it home before Samantha could post about her missing husband on the community Facebook group.
By the time the race had rolled around, I couldn’t say I was quite ready, but also not totally unprepared. Samantha’s parents had come down to the house the day before to help with the kids so that everyone could head downtown to cheer me on.
Unfortunately, the night before the race can only be described as a catastrophe.
It started off well enough with an early dinner at Olive Garden (need those carbs). Dinner was delicious and filling. A perfect prelude to a good’s night sleep and a ton of energy the next morning. Later that night after dinner though, Blake (our second child) started exhibiting signs of what can only be described as the food poisoning of 1,000 men. I can’t exactly remember, but he must have vomited close to 20 times. Each time we thought, “this must be the last time, he doesn’t have anything left”.
We were wrong. Each time. Like clockwork, every ten minutes it happened again.
It wasn’t until close to 2am that we decided enough was enough. After vomiting again, we were ready to take him to the ER. Something seemed to be wrong. We had tried all the at-home remedies, including leftover nausea medication from Samantha’s last pregnancy. Nothing was working.
We decided that if he vomited one more time, we were done and heading to the doctor. Sure enough, he didn’t (of course, it always happens that way). We finally went to sleep that night (morning) around 2:30am. Only 3.5 hours until it was time to rise for the trip downtown to the race location.
I found out the next day, after the race, that Samantha didn’t expect me to actually get up and make the race (much less complete it and beat my goal). I couldn’t blame her for that expectation, the night before was brutal, even for parents with three kids at the time that had seen most everything.
I ended up running that first half-marathon in 1:59:52. I vividly remember sprinting the last 30 seconds or so of the race as I knew it was close, as I hadn’t synced my watch exactly to know what pace I was on.
The entirety of the initial commitment, intermediate challenges, and definitive ending made for an interesting three months period for sure. It was a challenging and refreshing sequence of events culminating in a tangible victory (I got some sweet swag out of it).
I went on to run that same race the following year, as well as a full marathon earlier this year (more on that in another post).
The whole episode really taught me something about finishing what you started. I may not have given the training 100%, but I learned that doing something, even if not all that well, is better than doing nothing at all.
So long until next time.