January 2011 I set out on a goal to lose weight and get back in shape. This isn’t the first time I had set this goal, but I was determined it would be the last.
I did two things to make this happen: 1) I joined Weight Watchers to help get me moving in the right direction and to learn better eating habits, 2) I set a goal that in November 2011 I would run the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon.
I was way out of shape. I was about about 100 pounds heavier than I was in college. I began by walking at the local mall several times a week (it was too cold to walk outside). In February and March I also began hiking on some trails. Then, on April 1st, I hit the local jr. high track and started to run.
I could only run 2 minutes before I was completely out of breath. I extended that to 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 6 minutes, 8 minutes, 12 minutes, until I could do 30 minutes.
I ran my first 5K races (3.1 miles) on Memorial Day. I barely made it, but did so in under 32 minutes. In June, I ran another 5K race and did it in under 30 minutes. In September I ran a 10K race (6.2 miles) in a little more than an hour.
I struggled through very sore knees and ankles along the way. Being fat is not easy on your joints. I chose a training that would give my joints time to recover and yet push me further.
In October I began hitting double digit distance. I went 10, 11, 13 miles. In early November I hit 15 miles. I was ready for San Antonio.
On November 13, 2011, I crossed the finish line at about 10:40 am, having reached a goal that I had set out earlier this year. It was, without a doubt, the hardest run I had ever done.
There were 30,000 runners, volunteers, and participants on the course. How many runners is 30,000? From the time they sounded the gun to start the race at 7:30, using their “wave-start” method, I didn’t actually get to the start line until 8:07. It was very difficult to run at the pace that I had trained for. I was constantly bobbing and weaving left and right on the streets, up on the side walks, dodging people who would suddenly stop to walk. I ended up exerting too much energy within the first 7-8 miles of the race that when I hit the 10.5 mile distance, I hit a wall. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to run another step.
My good friend Bill Rogers was running with me. He kept urging me on over the last 3 miles to make it home. He set goals for me, “let’s run to this next corner,” “let’s just make it to this next point.”
I finally hit the home stretch. Thousands of people were lined on either side of the street, and the last uphill before we turned the corner for the finish line. They were all cheering for everyone. As I turned the corner, I saw Traci, Lauren, and Josh (as well as Bill Rogers’ family). They were yelling, holding up the signs they had made, and just as excited to see me cross the line.
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t my best time. I certainly wasn’t the fastest. But, it was everything I had. It took me 2 hours and 33 minutes.
The volunteers put an ice cold towel on my head. They hung the finishing medal around my neck. They took my picture. They gave me water, some fruit, and other stuff. I found my family.
Here I am now… the day after the race. My knees are good. My ankle is a bit sore. My pride a bit bruised for not running it 20 minutes faster.
But… I am very happy. I’m a bit wiser now about what it takes to run in the midst of 30,000 people.
I am very satisfied to have reached a goal that seemed so far fetched at the time.
I am ready to do it again.
I want to drop another 20 pounds and then begin training for my next half marathon.
After that, a full marathon.
Nov 12 – At the expo getting my race number
Nov 13 – 7:20 am – about 15-20,000 runners in front of me
7:20 am – about 10,000 runners behind me
8:40 am – Running at mile 3 in front of the Alamo (Bill Rogers and I)
10:40 am – Crossing the finish line
11:00 – Recovering and showing off my medal
2 thoughts on “Completed My First Half Marathon”
So very proud of you, Rich! You set your goal and you reached it. So thankful I was there with you.
Man, what a great story….YOU DID NOT GIVE UP. That’s the way to do it. I have no doubt you will hit your next goals and do a full marathon. Get outta the way, Kenyans……..here come Rich!