Monday, March 7, 2016

You Have It in You: My Awesome Half-Marathon

Yesterday was a big test for me: the 40th annual E. Murray Todd Half-Marathon.

I've vowed to run this race every year, no matter what. It's run by our county's parks department and is no frills, but it's a beautiful course, and it's extremely well organized.

It Was an Awesome Experience!
I've improved my pace significantly in the past 12 months, and I wanted to see what I could do this year. I was gunning for a PR -- to beat 1:56:36. But my goal, which I didn't really tell anyone about, was to go faster than 1:50.

That was ambitious, especially since illness had interrupted my training two weeks earlier. I was very, very nervous. I worried I'd start too fast and wind up walking, or that I wouldn't be able to hold my goal pace for 13.1 miles.

Here I am just before mile 2. (courtesy Jackie Richter)
At 10 miles, I wanted to hit 1:25, which would give me 25 minutes over the final 5k to hit my goal. I hit that at 1:24:27. I knew the PR was sewn up. That last stretch has one downhill and then about 2.5 miles of flat terrain through a park. So the question was: What do I have in me?

Around mile 9. Needed to lose the hat. (courtesy Jackie Richter)
Well, it turned out I had another gear. As other runners were flagging, I was speeding up. I ran the final 5K in 24:07 -- which would be my PR in the 5K by almost a full minute. Apparently I was moving so fast at the finish that I caught my wife by surprise and she didn't get a picture. Final time: 1:48:23. A full 8 minutes faster than my PR!

OK, so I'm bragging a little bit. But that's not really my point . Yes, I'm proud of my accomplishment. The important message, however, is in what I learned about myself.

What I Really Learned: You Are Awesome, Too!
Despite running faster than a PR pace for 10 miles, I was able to sustain a serious finishing kick. Did I want to slow down? Heck yeah. Was I worried I was going to bonk? Definitely.

But I never did. I had it in me.

And you do, too. One of the unspoken truths about being a Regular Guy is that you're actually an Extraordinary Guy. You're capable of amazing things.
  • Don't sell yourself short. So many people tell me they could never do what I do in a pair of running shoes. Yes you can! I'm living proof that anyone can do this.
  • Set lofty goals. Regardless of whether it's running, lifting, biking or whatever, set the bar high. You'll never find out what you're capable of if you don't.
  • Keep learning. A big part of my improvement has come from making changes to my training based on what I've read. I don't have all the answers, or even that many of them. But the more I learn, the better I get.
  • Work hard. Being a Regular Guy means keeping fit and living your life. But your exercise time is You Time. Make the most of it. Push yourself beyond comfortable. You owe that to yourself.
  • Stay consistent. Consistency is a big key to improvement. Create a routine in your life and you don't have to rely on "motivation."

Defining Your Awesome
The winner of the race finished in about 1:11 -- 37 minutes before me. My friend Dan finished about 14 minutes ahead of me -- a PR for him, too. But that doesn't diminish how proud I am of my accomplishment.

And whatever your endeavor, what other people do isn't a reflection on you. What matters is whether you're reaching new heights for you, and how that makes you feel about yourself. When you accomplish something that you would never have thought possible, it's just tremendous.

So what is your awesome? Let's hear it in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter!


  1. A PR in a half! Congratulations! As a guy who has never been able to get under 1:50 for a half I am impressed and at least a little envious. Just discovered your blog and am enjoying it. As a 49 y/o man who took up running about 6 1/2 years ago, I refer to myself as a "ham and egger" (a/k/a "Regular Guy") so your advice and thoughts ring true to me.

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Even six months ago, I would've never thought I could do that. Glad you like the blog, and if you have any ideas for topics, shoot 'em my way!