Dating back to a 100-yard dash I won at my elementary school, running has always sparked a fire in my soul. I was required to run a great deal while playing soccer in grade school and high school. Later in life, I was handed a pair of Asics by my wife which was followed by some tender instructions to adopt running as a hobby in hopes it may allow me to burn off stress. As a kid, I was able to run laps around the field with a great deal of ease as I stayed in front of the pack. However, as an adult, I was terrified at the thought of running a mile. With a great deal of clarity, I remember running 4-miles across town with my kid sister supporting me every step of the way. I will never forget that run nor will I take for granted the confidence instilled in me that day.
At some point, I became intrigued with the thought of running a half marathon and adopted a Hal Higdon training schedule. Somehow, on October 3, 2010 in St. Charles Missouri, I realized my goal and completed my very first half marathon with a very dear friend in my life. This race opened a Pandora’s Box in my feeble little mind. I asked myself, do I run one race and quit, should I try another this year (I did less than a month later), what about a schedule? Do I run in the snow or only warm months? You get the picture. So off I went, more races were ran while training different ways over several years with a multitude of folks that I am blessed to call friends. Each event posed a unique set of rewards and heartbreaks for me and my goals. While the fire was ever present and very real, the flames were not as white hot as they were leading into October of 2010. In fact, I found myself getting injured and feeling like the runs were more work than pleasure.
So, how do I get back to the 100-yard dash and St. Charles feelings? No damn clue but boy I wanted it and in a very bad way. Along the way, I humbled myself and came to the realization that I was an Idiot. What does an Idiot do? Seek guidance and knowledge from more seasoned Idiots I suppose? I recall a very real conversation with one of my best friends on earth, Nathan Rau. During that conversation I opened up and admitted my desire and frustration in getting over the hump. As always, Nathan was truthful and admitted some changes would need to take place and it would take time and wouldn’t be easy. Months later and after completing my second full marathon, I very loudly screamed UNCLE and signed up with Team PRS with David Murphy as my coach.
David asked me what my goal was and without hesitation I told him to beat my half marathon PR of 1:54:53. After David reviewed some of my running data and monitored daily runs, I worked up the courage to ask him if my goal was realistic. David said there was no doubt in his mind that I could beat my PR time but it would require me to put in the work. Jeff Kline was kind enough to perform a gait analysis and provide me with some productive feedback that I adopted one piece at a time. The change in gait was a pivotal piece in allowing me to realize progress. I then stepped into a pair of zero drop Altras and said goodbye to my $300.00 custom orthotics. My training went from running set miles with no direction to running for a period of time in very specific heart rate zones. No longer did I take days off. Instead, I would do core workouts on off days. PS, I am a runner and not a weights or core workout guy. Incidentally, I cussed David’s name a great deal during core workouts. I recall stretching on Nathan’s porch one Saturday morning and his wife, Annette, asked how things were going and I responded amazingly well. She asked, what had changed? I responded, everything from stride, to shoes to heart rate to results (hopefully???).
What better way to set a PR than where it all started. St. Charles or bust! The Missouri Cowbell wouldn’t be just any other race for me. This race would be the first time my wife (Lauren), our friend, Becky and our friend, Russ would run their first half marathons. While I had put in the work and expected great things for myself, seeing these first timers anticipate race day and experience the pre-race festivities really took me back to 2010. The excitement only built as we met up with Nathan and Annette prior to the race. Our expectations were unique from one another, not spoken out loud but clearly existed in real and meaningful ways for each and every one of us that day. Unlike any race I’ve ever run, when my foot hit that line, it was mine and I knew it with conviction. I recall breaking the race up into 2 - 5 milers and 1 - 5K. The first 5 miles were executed at a pace 5 seconds below the PR pace I needed. The second 5 miles, I dropped it down 10 seconds lower than the first 5. At around mile 8, I passed Lauren and Becky as they were heading in the opposite direction. I was overcome with joy in just seeing those two smile and taking in the moment. Lauren yelled out, “you’re doing it, babe”. I responded, "the shit is going down" in a very real way today. Later on , Lauren and Becky said the crew around them loved our exchange and saw it as a very cool moment. As promised, I felt pain and hit a dark place during mile 10 but kept pressing as there was only a 5K to go. From that point on, it was mind over matter and it really showed at the finish line.
5 years and 1 day later, at the same finish line as my first half marathon, I realized a PR by more than 5 minutes and showed a sub 1:50. My goal, very different than 5 years ago was realized. The fire was hotter than ever. Perhaps, it was more gratifying to see Lauren Weber, Becky Lowe, Russ Thomas, Annette Rau and Nathan Rau cross the line and receive some really unique payoffs for a great deal of blood sweat and tears put in for months on end. Our goals are certain to change, results will vary and the people who we realize these goals with likely vary over time. However, the reward is not in race day alone. The reward is in the journey which I could not have realized independently. None of us are promised our next planned run. So, get out there today! While on the trail, look around and take in who and what is around you. I can’t promise you much but you will never be able to relive this day as experienced. While I wish I could relive October 4, 2015 one more time, I am happy to file it away but anticipate another amazing day with this great group plus one of my a best friends Greg Lowe who regrettably could not be in attendance as he was out of town serving our great country.
Thanks for listening to an Idiot ramble.