Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dead Last Is Better Than DNF

Way back in June I posted here that I was going to be running the Rocket City Marathon.  The event was this past weekend and it was an experience that I'll never forget!  I made some new friends, that I'll tell you about later, and was thrilled to have my running partner, Jeff, waiting for me at the finish line.

The wife and I left for Huntsville on Friday morning and had a nice quiet lunch together at Olive Garden then we went and picked up my race packet.  We went and checked into our hotel and then off to the mall we went.

The weather wasn't looking very good for us because there was rain in the forecast.  Tish and I picked Jeff up at their hotel about 6:30am and it was pouring down.  Tish dropped us off at the host hotel and she said by the time she park, it had stopped raining.  It was a miracle!  At race time it was only misting rain and that stopped soon after the start.

Since I knew it was going to be cold just standing around before the gun went off, I wore a sweat shirt that I was willing to leave on the course.  I took it off after a mile and a quarter and got rid of it.  I was warmed up by then.  Just past mile 2, I saw Bart Yasso standing on the sidewalk.  It took me a second to recognize him but I turned around and got my phone out and asked if I could have my picture taken with him.  He was kind and more than willing to do it.

At mile 3 it I was thrilled to see someone that I knew and went over and hugged Patricia's neck because I hadn't seen her in a long time.  Little did we know that the photographer that had just taken my picture before I went around the corner took our picture too.

I remember many details about the next 23 miles but I don't remember what mile I might have been at.  As I went along I saw a mailbox made up of many different bird houses.  It was unusual but nice. Going through the different neighborhoods and seeing all of these people cheering was great!  I ran most of the race alone but the spectators were still cheering for me long before I got to their post.

A couple of places where folks were out really stand out in my mind.  The first was when I saw a few kids dancing and singing.  I'm not sure exactly what they were singing but they were.  After the runners in front of me went by them, they were about to go back into the house and their mom said, "Here comes some more."  Two of the little boys ran back out to the side of the road and yelled, "High-fives are free!"  I gave them both high-fives as I went by.  Another place there was a young lady holding a big sign that said, "Touch Here for Power", so I did!

The course had one really long stretch of about 4.6 miles that seemed like it was three times as long.  Another runner had told me that it was 6 or 7 miles.  Along that stretch of the course was a guy playing a violin too.  He was great!

There was so much to see along the course that it's just hard for me to remember really.  Another guy was just standing on the side of the road and had music playing from his car.  The song he was playing got stuck in my head for over 2 miles and I was finally able to stop singing it.  Can you imagine singing "Santa Clause Is Coming to Town" while running for over 2 miles?  I did!

At mile 23 I was ready to throw in the towel.  I had to dig really deep and keep telling myself, "You've come this far, you can't quit now!"  The last 5K was the hardest part of the entire race.  It wasn't the course.  I just didn't think I could make it another step and I just kept going to putting one foot in front of the other.

The highlight of the entire event, besides crossing the finish line, has got to be the three new friends that I made while trying to get to the finish.  After getting rid of the sweat shirt, I got really warm and told another runner that I wished I had've worn a short sleeve.  Not long after that, I was glad I had on a long sleeve.  The wind started blowing and it cooled things down quite a bit.  After the wind stopped blowing it warmed back up a little and I got hot.  Little did I know that I would come upon that runner again.  His name is Kade and we made friends while walking and talking.  The sweepers were quickly approaching us from behind and we knew we needed to stay ahead of them.  I stayed ahead of them for a while until they caught me.  I stayed with them until about the last two miles and they steadily pulled away.  During the 4 miles or so that I ran with them, I made friends with them as well.  They are Jeri and Dave.  I promise you, if you ever need some motivation to run, let these two get behind you.  They will encourage you to the very last.  "That's it, Jeremy!  Strong and steady!  That's the way!"

Kade crossed the finish 9 seconds ahead of me but guess who else was waiting on us.  Jeri and Dave! They were so proud of us for sticking it out and not dropping.  The four of us had a little celebration right there at the finish line.

After I finally got into the host hotel, Jeff handed me a plate with my favorite food on it...a PB&J sandwich!  I was so ready for some real food and that hit the spot.

The title of this post says it all...almost!  I did come in dead last of the finishers that got a time but that's okay.  I remember a saying that I've read many times over the last year:  "Dead last is better than did not finish, which trumps did not start."

It was so good to see my wife, Jeff, Ginger, and Julie there at the finish line.  I know they were getting a little worried.  Jeff texted me to see if I was alright and about that time I came around the corner to the finish.  Jeff and I have ran many miles together and he has seen me grow from doing 10Ks all the way up to a marathon.  I know it's not over because I'm sure we'll run many more miles together in the coming years.

Thanks for stopping by for this long post and I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience of running my first marathon.

1 comment:

  1. This was wonderful! Dredged up memories of my own marathon and the wonderful, wonderful people you encounter on that 26.2 mile journey. Congratulations!!! You did it! You are a marathoner!