Sunday, February 13, 2011

At the Mercedes Half-Marathon

 Now I feel like a runner. My first race of any kind was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in October 2010. Shortly thereafter, I found a new ambition: running a half-marathon, and ultimately a marathon. The Half is now under my belt.

On Friday, my wife Anna (above) and I went to the expo to pick up my race package, where I got to collect some SWAG.

I also saw the board with all the names of the runners. This is most of the Half-Marathoners. Then there are the Marathoners, 5K-ers, and Marathon Relay Teams. In all, about 7000 runners.

 Earlier in the week, the folks who run the Mercedes Marathon sent out an email suggesting that we participants dress for a significant temperature change. Temps were in the mid-30s when the runners began to arrive around 6am and warm up nicely throughout the next several hours.

So yesterday I went out in search of a disposable sweatshirt, one that I could shed at race time. The Mercedes folks were collecting all the discarded attire and donating it to local missions. I could not have been more excited about the sweatshirt I chose.

So the race began. I had no expectations, except to finish. Anna and her family were waiting for me at Mile 5, among the multitudes of others to be found along the route, cheering for and encouraging the runners. So here I am coming and going 5/13.1 of the way through.

The rest of the race was more-or-less the same: high-5 little kids on the sideline, water stations, Powerade stations, GU Gel stations, beer station at Mile 12 (I turned down that opportunity), hills, lots of hills.

AND THEN, I felt something I have never experienced before: euphoria. As I rounded the last corner and entered the final stretch, a wave of what-can-only-be-described-as wonderful goodness swept over me.

I didn't set the world on fire with my 2:14:52 (official) time, but I did narrowly avoid being lapped by the winning Marathoner. And I did fulfill my one expectation: finishing. And now count myself among the runners of the world.

Next stop: Music City Half-Marathon in Nashville

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