"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." -John Bingham
On March 18th, 2012 I was out to achieve two things, to get a new personal record and to run a half marathon with my Father. I am happy to say I accomplished a new personal record and I beat my Dad. My Dad has beat me in every race we have ever ran together. He is fast for his age or I am slow for mine. I will never let him forget that I beat him!
It was a beautiful Sunday morning in St. Petersburgh, Florida. The temperature at the start was 69 degrees and that was at 7 AM. I was a little concern about the temperatures being so high since my body was use to 50 degrees. But I knew I wasn't going to let hot humid air stop me from accomplishing my goal that day.
I always love the start line at races. Runners talk about their goals, if this is their first race and how they hope they can finish strong. Many of the runners are strangers. If you are a runner you will understand this when I say this, no runner is a real stranger, we are all family. We are all there to reach the same goal to finish and look good doing it. We are connected by the road, our shoes and our hearts. No matter age, race or gender we all believe that no matter how exhausted we get, we will finish. You don't even have to talk to anyone at the starting line to get it, you can just feel it.
When in high school, the national anthem always gave me the chills. Today, as an adult, it mean so much more. I take that moment at every race to thank the men and women who have put their lives on the line. It puts me in a good place and allows me to remember no matter how hard the race might get I will push on for them. I always run my first mile for them.
When the shot gun went off, you could hear all the shoes hitting the pavement. I wished my Dad good luck and started to run. It is weird, I am always a talker but on this race I barely spoke. Many times during the race I would check to make sure my dad was doing okay. We would speak about the course but we had no real conversation. In our silence, I could actually hear my dad cheering me on and I am certain he could hear me as well. It is kind of funny how that works, because as I passed by people I could hear them too. Maybe I should stop talking and start listening to others it was peaceful, encouraging and gave me the power to move forward.
Dad and I ran a hard six miles together. I remember telling him that there was NO WAY I would be able to keep up the pace. He just encouraged me to continue and slow down when I needed too. But I never slowed down. When I looked down at my Garmin at the first 10K I was shocked to see what the time was. I had a new PR for my 10K and shaved 9 minutes off my time. I was amazed and honestly still am amazed how fast I ran the first 6 miles. 52:30!
I could tell around mile 6.5 Dad was struggling. I wanted to stay with him because I wanted to finish with him but the athlete in me wanted to continue on. I asked him what his deal was and if he would be okay if I continued my journey without him. If you know my Dad you would know he would never hold me back. He smiled and told me to go on without him and that he would catch up. I love him for that!
As I continued on it was just me, my heartbeat, my breath and the beautiful sun rise. I was in my own little heaven. I have had many moments like this. My mind shuts off and I can be at peace with the world that I am surrounded in. A lot of people will never have a moment like this because they are to busy to take life in. I had that moment around mile 8. Picture perfect sunrise, peaceful ocean and the air so still it felt like I was all alone.
Here is the picture of that moment.. well sort of! I didn't have my camera on my run but I made my Dad drive me to this spot so I could have it forever! What a sight!
The rest of the run was like that. I felt amazing, at peace. I welcomed the pain in my lower back and ask the pain to help me finish. My legs felt awful but it wasn't enough to make me stop. In fact the pain in my legs and my back pushed me forward. I could hear voices in my head of people that have made a large impact on my life. They encouraged me, inspired me and challenged me to get to that finish line faster than ever before.
So I did! I ran fast. I reached the finish line at 2:05. I shaved 13 whole minutes off my last PR. If you are a runner you understand that is something that is hard to do. I beat my Dad by 10 minutes.
Every single day is a gift. You can either take that gift and do something with it or do nothing. Every single day I plan on challenging myself more, reaching a new edge. I have exciting days and I have normal days but every day in my life is a little extraordinary. Running is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It gives me moments where I feel at peace, makes me feel accomplish and challenges me to believe in the impossible dream. I hope that all of you can find something like this in your life, something that makes you feel that nothing can stop you.
St. Petersburg half marathon will be a race I will cherish forever. I got another great moment, a new PR and got to run with the person I been looking up to for years. No one can take that memory away.
So as John Bingham would say. Lace up those shoes, hit the road and create amazing memories. It doesn't matter if you run a mile or twenty miles. It doesn't matter if you come in first or last. We are family and that my friends is what running is all about!