Saturday, October 15, 2011

Journey to Jacksonville: Sportsmanship

Oh snap ... Its October!!! A bunch of races to catch up on and loads of solid training that's honestly been the best of my early career. Last month was busy at Hilton Head Health, leading all the way up to our Devin's Dash Memorial 5K which you'll hear about soon. I ended up setting a company record (so I proclaim) for personal trainings ... an astonishing 62!! That's About 1 1/2 weeks of just personal training guests. Love it.

With that said, time to get down to business on Less Miles, More CrossFit. My roommates and I headed down to Savannah September 24th for our 2nd shot at the "Heart of Savannah 5K." It was our first crack last year and we really enjoyed the race. This was pretty much our debut for running season and now there's literally a race every weekend. If your a runner you know how it is September through November. Pretty much game time.

Brian Knapp (my roommate and dude I want to someday beat) ended up placing first (as usual) running 16:10 and I ended up a close second hitting a 5K PR of 16:44. Fast for me, but we were both stoked to start the season 1-2. Especially since these were better times than last year. I also met up with my Cremator (50 mile ultra) friend Geoff Riehl and of course at breakfast he mentioned a half marathon next weekend in Jacksonville!! You all know I couldn't hold back and by the time I got back to Hilton Head Island, I had already registered for the race haha

I prefer the long distances and its honestly impossible not to register when there is a race close by. Literally anything within 4 hours, I feel compelled to go and compete. Racing is really the only place where I can see what I am made of and where I am at. How much courage do I have? I think its tough to describe, but you feel more within yourself and focused moment to moment, mile to mile.

Anyways, I ended up meeting Geoff in Savannah that Friday evening and we crushed the journey to Jacksonville. This dude price-lined us $50 hotel room so we were set to go. It was a long haul so sleep wasn't an issue. The race was the Marine Corps Half Marathon to be exact and it was also like 10th year of the half marathon really cool post race party with marines doing pull up contests and mad legit chocolate milk!! We were both super excited, especially me not even knowing this was coming until like 6 days ago haha Did you know Jacksonville is ranked in the top 10 of running cities?? I can see why after my experience this weekend...

Weather was pretty crisp and right before the race Geoff and I scrambled to find a urinal. Probably one of the most key moments is to time it right so your ready at the start line. As the gun sounded, I was pretty set on the pace I was going to hold and went out smooth towards the front of the pack. A few fellas took off cruising so decide to just hold my own and stick to what I could for that morning. That's truly what you have to do in endurance events. You'll only improve paces doing more speedwork and especially practicing technique!! As the race progressed, I began to pack up with 3 other runners, 2 girls and 1 guy so we had a good mix. What's great about bigger races is the competition. You can expect someone to be out there running the same pace as you, pushing you, and sometimes it just comes down to who will gut it out at the end.

So us four packed up and everyone was looking strong, no one really breathing that heavy yet. The one guy running with us had like these Florida Ironman arm sleeves on and was all geared up with compression ... I was like dude this is a half marathon. You can already tell I didn't want to lose to this guy. The two girls with us was a short caucasion (mad ripped) and also a Kenyan young women (I was pumped that I was hanging with her haha). As we shifted on, the Kenyan girl and I let them two take the lead and set the pace. We pretty much used them to draft off of (yess you can do this in running). With them setting a solid 6min/per mile pace I felt good, legs strong, breathing strong. Then it happened ...

Mile 7 was a TEST. You'll have miles in races where you feel something, somehting usually tough to identify, but something may come your way. What I felt this day was a little something in the knee cap (similar to patellar tendonitis). This race was only about 5 weeks after the Ironman so dang I was worried. Was my knee going to lock up? The weird thing was then it went away over a meager 1/2 a mile stretch. Whaaaaattt??? Nothing literally, that something had disappeared. As that went away my confidence grew and I was feeling really good so at about mile 9, I broke away from the pack because our pace setters began to slow. I really kicked it hard for that mile and held close to 5:50 pace if I remember correctly. Oddly enough neither of our pack's pace setters could catch up, but guess who came with???

Yes Yes the Kenyan girl!! I felt priveledged and not to stereotype, but it was just plain cool to be running with the women's leader. So her and I get to talking and its all positive. Things like: Its Only 3 more miles, your looking strong, let's keep this pace that kind of thing. So right past mile 10 there was an aid station and oh crap!! I found myself not even close to grabbing a gel ... I was way on the other side of the road!! So I said to myself screw it, I'll just gut it out. Wouldn't you know this fine runner happened to grab me a gel and no joke it was for me! Can you believe the sportsmanship?

I gratefully thanked her and we kept cruising in kicking at the end of the race and positively talking one another to the finish line. After the race, I thanked her a second time and we chatted about what a great course it was and how enjoyable of a race. What I still can't get over and will remember to this day is her sportsmanship, humbleness, and friendship on and off the course. This is what running and competing is all about. A collective crew of people who are out there only to challenge themselves. To push their limits, but at the same time, people with the same sick sort of idea that running a half marathon is fun. As I talked more with this girl after the race, it had actually been her first out right victory. She was so nonchalant about it that I said to myself this is a role model runner and a big reason of why I love competing. That's what we need to remember when we perform is:

1. Sportsmanship - go the extra mile in a race to be friendly with someone. Show them the respect they deserve because they are competing and trained for the same event. Shake hands after the race no matter the place and remember that your only out there pushing yourself.
2. Humility - remain humble. There is always a better runner out there and this is why we continue to hit the streets and race. Humility goes a long way after a victory and individuals who express it allows them to improve and excel quicker than their arrogant counter parts.
3. Friendship - not a race goes by where I don't meet someone new. Seek friendship out there. We are all connected in these events and dedicated towards the same goal. Competition is an open avenue for you to meet some of the best people on this planet.

Marine Corps Half Marathon FINISH TIME 1:18:53 (>5 PR) 8th Overall ... Mad cool Pictures to come!!!