What a day!! All the training, all the fun I had, wrapped up into 20 miles of FUN today. Fun you say? Well, I did just that. The weeks prior to this race today, I had a lot of emotions and what nots going into this run. It all started last year when I did this exact race, when I DNF'd at mile 17. Physically that day, I felt fine, a little anxious at one point, but I think it was just nerves going into what was then my longest distance to run at one time. Plus, as I was training for my first marathon last year, this race was a training run going into it.
Aside from that, I also had the luck of the draw to come across a page on Facebook www.facebook.com/prayersforlanegoodwin .. Brief summary, this young boy, Lane Goodwin of Beech Cove, Kentucky was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma back in 2010. I don't know how to pronounce that, but as the page described it, this is a rare form of cancer that hits 1 out of a million kids. Lane was unfortunate to have it. Sad to say, young Lane passed away this passed week, but prior to his passing, there was an amazing amount of support for him and his family. Pictures of random people posting pics with their thumbs up as to say "we are in support of you". I myself showed mine as well by posing the thumbs up at my previous race I did prior to this one. Please click on this link and LIKE their page to show continuous support. The family can use it.
Also, as a member of Dailymile, I've been grateful to have online support from friends all around, and as much as I get that, I sometimes feel I don't give it back enough. If I did, I would be glued to my cell phone 24/7 and would end up divorced by my wife *laughs*.. To give back to my DM community, I was given a challenge from a DM friend "Miles For Mokie". Monika C aka Mokie, recently had a brain tumor removed and the DM community came together and from the days of October 8-28, each member is presented with the challenge to run miles in Mokie's honor. As of today including this race, I am at 75. Mokie, we're pulling for you!!
Please join this page and show your support if you haven't already
With all of this on my heart, and weighing on my mind, I went into this race with an open mind and positive attitude. I was completely floored when the RD called out that over 1400 participants had signed up for this race. On average, this one usually gets around 500-600. Humbling at it's best. Especially since this race, "Honored Hero" is a big supporter in the fight again childhood cancer. Fitting today for the honor and memory of Lane Goodwin, I thought. On a personal note, it saddens me when I see and hear of young children dying of cancer. My angry question and thoughts are, why do they have to suffer. Sometimes, I ask God why not ME...why can't I take the pain from these kids that deserve a chance in life. Someday, I'll ask him.
To start off, this was by far, a fun race. I got up this morning at around 445, took my dogs out to potty, feed them, and then got ready. As I was out walking them, that humidity was already being ugly. The "Indian Summer" was upon us today. I told my wife this morning to dress down today because it may get hot later today. High was 88F. As the plan was, the race started out at the Trinity park off 7th street. I'm not too familiar with the Fort Worth surroundings (Dallas native here), but I know enough of whatever street I am on, I can find my way around, and even get home easily. As luck would have it, the starting line is down the street from the Montgomery Plaza where there just happens to be a STARBUCKS....with a comfortable AC that my wife got to enjoy for a few hours. Her plan was to do some studying while she was there and I was racing. We got there to the plaza at around 6, just as the doors were opening. I wanted to get over to the starting early just so I could meet up with some peeps and say hey to anyone. Granted the race didn't start till around 730, that hour and a half flew by. I met up with fellow DMers, Clay P aka The Nite Train, and Andy aka Twentysix2. The three of us ran the 20 miler because we were crazy enough to. The 20 mile runners had the great privilege to start first, then an hour later the half marathon, then 5k runners took off. Given that the temps were not going to let up, I kept the idea of just pacing myself. I wanted to get in at least a 3:20 finish (10 minute pace), but that humidity was not going to let me. Plan B, just run till I can't run anymore and then walk/run the rest of the way.
Well, as we started off, I made the mistake, like I always do of going out too fast and then choking at some point before I reach mile 1. I wanted to run at comfortable enough pace, and keep up with Clay, but I just couldn't hold on. Clay, you are getting faster, and I applaud you for that my friend. Boston has your name on it someday. So, as I pulled back, I set into a comfortable 1030ish pace and just cruised. The weather was still nice enough and the wind was at my back, so I could coast this. Like the old saying, what comes up, must come down. I say that because, the course was an "out and back" verses a "loop". 4.5 miles out and back on the first leg (9 miles) then 3 miles through one portion of the ridge, then 4 more miles out and back (8 miles) on the other end of the leg then up a hill and then a sharp turn to the finishline. The course itself was mostly flat, with some hills here and there. As I made to the first out and back part, I still feeling ok. At that point, Andy and his TnT (team in training) group had passed me. Still running most of the first leg by myself, or no one to chat with, I did get to chat with a lady who was doing intervals throughout the run. To be honest, I am not a big fan of those, especially in a long distance run like this one, but as she was trading off with me on leading, I see a benefit of it. I personally like them when I do speed work, however, for 20 miles, I would croak. LOL!
From that first turnaround to mile 12 we traded of leads till I caved in. That humidity was not being friendly to my joints, and my PF was acting up. Sidebar: at mile 7, there was a water stop where I had "peeled" my shirt off because it was sticking to me and tossed it in the one of the bags a crew member was holding. Quite humorous to some. I took that to my advantage of being able to let my skin breathe and enjoy the breeze despite the humidity. After the initial stop I had, I was thankful for the fact that I had indeed ran a double distance today given the conditions of the weather. So, from there, I decided to have fun with this race. First started at mile 13, I climbed up a hill and picked on a race photographer that the race director said this was supposed to be flat, and that I wanted my money back. Poor guy thought I was serious at first, then I told I was only kidding then took off. Made some more laughs along the was saw some other runners already coming back on the second turnaround. Lots of high fives, and thumbs up saying good job and taking the compliments in return.
I spent most of mile 12 going into 18 walking, moreso than run. My quads were cramped up at that point and my knee was making uncalled for sounds of discomfort, so I kept it at a brisk walking pace. Ignoring the fact that my legs were not only cramped, but my muscles were tightening. Stopping and stretching here and there helped a bit. Plus, a bottle of pickle juice I got a water stop. Again, lots of encouragement and hi 5's from the crew and other runners coming back. At mile 13 and a half, I saw Clay coming back and we fist bumped then kept going. Heading into the last turnaround, I passed up Andy as he was coming back, hi 5ed, then kept moving as well. At the last turnaround, the weather was really messing with me. I got the encouragement from the crew to keep going, which at that point, I shrugged off my discomfort by humbly saying that I was feeling good. Made some jokes to laugh my pain off. At that point, my PF was getting tough to bear, so I had to do something about it. I don't know if it was my shoes I was wearing (brooks ghost 4) or the orthotic that I was wearing gave me grief, but I was able to take care of it. Luckily, that water stop had a chair I could sit in. So, I took my shoes off, and removed my orthotics. Took some more water and gatorade and off I went. I tried to run some more, but the pickle juice I took from a previous stop hadn't kicked in yet. I didn't want to just walk the rest of the way, so I shuffled stepped here and there. At that point, I had met up with another friend of Andy's who was a member of his TNT and we chatted some and were able to keep each other occupied while the pain and discomfort was slowly going away. At mile 16, I took a deep breath and remember the painful moment from last year, when all mechanisms had failed me last year which led me to my DNF. I took a look at the mile 16 sign, gave it the finger and laughingly kept going. Mile 17 and up to that famous water stop where I called it last year, I was walking and semi limping some. If I can take anything from today, it's the fact that I am more tolerant to pain. Made it to that water stop and was so glad there was a porta potty. By then, I had drank 2 5 hour energy shots, water and gatorade from all of the stops after mile 5, um...yeah, I had to pee.
After handling business, I took a break to stop and stretch some more, and low and behold, a crew member remembered me from last year. She had asked me if I was the one guy that bonked on this run last year, and I said, yes. I reassurred her, that I am a lot stronger and feeling a lot better today than I was last year. Despite the fact that I was walking a lot at that point, I was not ready to stop. She high 5ed me and off I went. I came up one last hill, and down the tail end of the turnaround, and saw mile 18. By then, Andy's friend (name unknown) had already pulled ahead, so I was mostly by myself. Gave me some time to reflect and remember how thankful I am that I can run and walk, and that most people can't.
Maybe God was telling me that this is my gift he has given me. I don't know at this point. I just love to run and I'm sticking with that. At that mile 18 sign, I felt the urge to want to run some. Shuffle stepping my way to mile 19 and onto the last water stop. From there, I was met by yet some more encouragement from the crew working that stop and letting me know that there was one more mile to go. I felt excited at that time and that I wanted to run the rest of the way. However, that didn't happen...
As I looked ahead of me, there was a group of ladies wearing TuTu's so I caught up to them and walked the rest of the way with them. I jokingly asked if they didn't mind a fat shirtless guy walking with them, they gladly welcomed me. We all chatted about this run and where we were all from. Listening to them talk about their kids, families, I shared about my dogs, our home, just conversation. It was really cool listening to them as we were on a high at this point about the race, and that even though we were walking, we were all OK with that. As we pulled up toward the end of the race, there was a sign for the half marathon runners that said "mile 13", which meant we were at mile 19.9. Just one more hill and that sharp left turn and there was the finishline.
On our way up that hill, I excused myself and pulled ahead and told them that I wanted to run this one in. The sound of clapping and chearing and even the music from the loud speakers never sounded sweeter to me at that time. Once I pulled in, I looked to my left and saw my wife, Stacie, gave her a high 5 and then saw my brother from another mother, Clay, and gave him a high 5 and then cross the faithful finishline.
At that time, I didn't care about what my time was. I knew I was well over 4 hours, but still, I had FUN today. I was greated by the RD, and then my wife. Had some laughs, gave the RD a hard time about those hills cuz the race was supposed to have been flat. Again, it was fun.. I can't really say that about all of my races, but today topped a lot of the other races I've had in the past that I considered to be fun as well. Today was filled with sweat and some tears, but all in all, it was great in the end. I walked away realizing that I need some vast improvements in my running. I'm not too concerned about pace, as I never am, but need more training in distance. I could go on and say that the weather was a big factor in why I walked a good portion of the second leg of this run, but I won't. I'm just looking foward now to my next race, the Dallas (White Rock) half marathon in December. Knowing full well, it will definitely be a lot cooler.
Off to rest now, and get ready for the next go round. Me 1 - Honored Hero 1.. now we're even!!