As I was finishing Rock n Roll Seattle, I started thinking back. At one point, I would sit down after each race and reflect on how that day went. What went right and what maybe didn’t go as planned. I did this for me. I did it to note my experiences along the way. It was all a part of the journey that I unexpectedly started when I signed up for my first half marathon back in 2012. What started as a bucket list item turned into running races back to back weekends, races back to back days, 3 days in a row, 4 days in a row, and even traveling to other places to run. I got hooked. Somewhere along the line I just got busy with life. As much as I wanted to write about the experience, I just never got around to it. Whether it was because I was tired, or I just didn’t make the time that I should have. Looking back, I wish I would have kept up with that. I could have published a small book with just my reactions to each race leading up to 100 half marathons. I think that would have been awesome to read. To see where I came from to reach my all time high, and then hit my all time low. All of this leading of course to my comfort zone. That would have been a good read.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “why did he just randomly go on this rant about his past races?” Well, if I’m completely honest, I’ve been in funk. It’s one of those things that you sometimes fall into without realizing it. You get so consumed in life, that sometimes you don’t realize that you’re driving yourself into the ground; both mentally and physically. It was only recently that I realized that I haven’t been the same. I realized that I wasn’t making enough time for just me. Whether that be going out to run, workout, read a book, meditate, etc. I just hadn’t been doing the things that I wanted to do. I was doing the things that I thought needed to be done and I was missing out other parts of my life. I felt a little lost, like I was missing a piece of me. When I came to that realization, I started to make some changes. Again, you’re probably wondering, “where is he going with this?”
Fast forward to today. I was running the Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon. It started out like most of my races. I didn’t sleep well the night before, rolled out of bed way too early for it being a weekend, and went through my normal routine. Drove to the race, ate real quick, and met up with my Runderful friends; Rose, Nykky, Gretchen, Cindy, et al. The difference today? I ran with someone I finally got to meet after nearly 2 years of hearing nothing but amazing, awesome and positive things about; Bethanee.
The race itself started like most. Lots of energy and nerves at the start. Once we started, I will say, it was probably the clearest start I’ve had in some time at a larger race. I didn’t have to weave as much. Anyway, when it came to the race, we ended up splitting into two groups. Rose, who I normally run all my races with, stayed with Nykky to try and get her to a course PR. I stayed with Bethanee to hopefully make her first half marathon fun and enjoyable. I know, some people out there are saying, “how can running 13.1 miles be fun…”. Well, it can be. Especially if you’re surrounded by the right people.
As I ran alongside of Bethanee, it was like my energy had been renewed for this race, especially after running the Sound to Narrows the day before. I have felt pretty good at a couple of races this year (as I was getting out of my funk), but this race seemed… different. There was a certain amount of excitement there. I was running alongside someone who I had just met for the first time in person, yet, it’s like I knew her already. Like I said before, I had heard nothing but high praise and positivity for the last 2 years, along with stories and having random chats. It’s funny how interconnectivity works these days.
We were running and chatting and the miles seemed to just fly by. Before we knew it we were halfway done with the race. One of the best parts of running, at least for me, is running with someone you know. You get time to joke, laugh, and hell, even talk about life. It’s funny just how many emotions you experience in a race. From nervous and serious to relaxed. It’s part of the journey. All of which take your mind off the race itself.
Now, I’m going to tie in the beginning of this reflection. The reason I started thinking about all of those past things was because of the conversations I was having with Bethanee. You see, I had gotten to a point where I didn’t make the time for myself to write something thoughtful about the races. I had put myself in a state of, “I have to do this or have to do that”, which ultimately led to, “well, I could skip this race experience because people will just be reading about the same thing over and over.” I got caught in that thought process. As I was having these conversations with Bethanee, I was sharing all these different experiences I’ve had, when it finally clicked. My reason why I started doing reflection pieces in the first place.
Each race is a different chapter. It is its own unique experience and story that can’t be scripted (as much as you would like to do so at times). The story can only be written as the day goes on in that moment. The best part of these stories? The people.The people are what make the stories the best they can be. Look at today: Nykky trying to get a course PR, my dad running a half marathon and PRing, Cindy running her 100th half marathon. All of these are unique experiences that can’t be put in another chapter. It’s about the moment. And in these moments, you realize that sometimes it may not be your moment at all. Don’t get me wrong, all of these chapters are about YOU, but there are times when there is a bigger picture. One that you get to be a part of. A bigger moment, if you will, that is part of your story.
Today's moment? Bethanee running her first half marathon. As we ran and chatted, I heard a saying that I usually hear from Rose, “you can go ahead if you want, don’t let me hold you back.” I told her, “I’m not worried about time. If that was my concern, I would’ve already took off. I want to make sure you finish.” If you know me, sure, there was a time that I was obsessed with my time. However, after running 100+ of these, the only time that time is an obsession is if I’m pacing. I’m more in it now for the fun, good times, experience and absorbing the raw emotion from the day. I told her that I would stay with her until the end. At that point, I was prepared to crawl to the finish line to make sure she made it. Call me stubborn, but that’s who I am. I genuinely love being around friends and care for them and their goals.
That said, we took those last couple miles a little slower, but hey, we talked and laughed. That’s what it’s about. The camaraderie amongst runners and friends. As we approached the finish line, with people lined along the street, you just have to take it all in. Not only are you finishing a race, but you have all these strangers cheering you on. It’s a feeling that never gets old. Whether it’s your first or your 109th, that feeling you get coming down the shoot and crossing that finish line is amazing. All the hard work that you put in comes to fruition. There’s a sense of emotion there. You may be relieved that it’s over. There may be excitement from finishing. Whatever the feeling is, embrace it. You just finished 13.1 miles.
Today was a good day. I got to do something that I enjoy and never take for granted, because you never know when you won’t be able to do it anymore. You have to live in the moment. I felt great today, but the focus today wasn’t on me. It was on the people that I have put in the hard work to be where they were at. Rose, you finally got to experience what I do at the top of hills to you (haha). Dad, you’ve put a lot of work into your craft and got a PR. Cindy, you just ran your 100th half marathon. That’s amazing. Bethanee, you completed your first half marathon. Thank you for letting me be a part of that. How lucky am I to have been able to experience all of this? Sure, I finished, but I’m more happy for all these other moments that are now a part of my story.
As I continue to run, I’ll continue to take time to reflect on my experiences. I sit here now with a medal around my neck, sipping coffee, while I watch the rain lightly tap the window and think to myself, “Today couldn’t have gone any better.”