I told my friend, Cindi, I wouldn’t call myself slow (or fat), so I won’t. But just so you know, there were turtles running in molasses that passed me up as I participated in my first-ever half-marathon Saturday at Thanksgiving Point.
Granted, they were fast turtles.
During most of my 13.1-mile adventure, I couldn’t help but think two things: “OW!” and “WATER!” and “This just isn’t good enough!” (I now realize that’s three things, but my brain wasn’t quite functioning properly at the time.)
Quick background on me: I once weighed 371 pounds, now weigh about 240 and should be about 165. Last summer, I enthusiastically signed up to participate in an Ironman triathlon, which includes 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles on the bike, followed by one of those 26.2-mile-long marathons.
(I now realize that my brain wasn’t quite functioning properly at that time, either.)
Saturday’s half-marathon was, for me, a step toward getting closer to that goal. But despite the beauty of this course and the excellent organization and fun overall experience, the Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon was a HUGE challenge for me.
Honestly, when I think of this race with an Ironman frame of mind, it’s almost demoralizing. It was only half of the distance of the run, yet I struggled mightily with the relentless ups and downs that this hilly course through the snow-covered gardens and golf course presented. It was like running on a scenic roller-coaster for 13.1 miles, and, yes, that even included a couple of breathtaking 360-degree loops. Or so it seemed.
As my wife and I continued forward on that chilly morning, my mind often wondered: “If it’s this difficult to do a half-marathon on its own, how incredibly challenging will an Ironman be? Who am I to even think I could do it!?” Maybe worst of all, “What will my doubters – maybe even my supporters – think of this slow time!?”
I’m smart enough to realize that the way my body felt and this pace would not cut it on my eventual big race day (especially after factoring in a long swim, a terribly long bike ride and diminishing time in a marathon after all that). Truthfully, I was ready for this sucker to be done about four miles before I got to the finish line, if not further back than that. I jokingly called the course the “Lehi Roller Hills” for a reason, and those never-ending speed bumps got to me. (Yes, I’m a whiner.)
I was running — or probably walking, more likely — around the 11th agonizing mile when I was really getting discouraged about all of the above. Suddenly, words that I’ve heard and read popped into my mind: “Enjoy the journey.”
I was almost done with the longest run (walk-aided run, lol) of my life, and I was getting discouraged about not measuring up to others or this Ironman goal of mine. My Ironman mindset was robbing me of enjoying what for me was an incredible achievement: I WAS DOING A HALF-MARATHON!!!!
Not only was I doing that, but it came a day after I did the longest swim of my life (2,550 yards on Friday) and that came the day after I did the longest bike ride of my life (59.1 miles with 4,500 feet of climbing on Thursday).
Three back-to-back-to-back lifetime achievements, and all I could think about was: “I’m not fit or fast enough for Ironman!”
I thought I might short-circuit my laptop from the tears that streamed out of me as I first wrote this down, but I’m pretty dang proud of myself — and my wife, who stayed by my side throughout most of the half-marathon. (I’ll blame her for a couple of the extra minutes due to her potty stops.)
I’m not sure if I cried because I don’t know if I can make my Ironman dream come true in June, or if I’m just so upset that I couldn’t fully enjoy this moment or if I’m proud and happy. Maybe all three. Quite frankly, after all of the sweating I did for three-plus hours, I’m shocked that there is anything moist inside of me still.
Here’s what I do know: If I wasn’t training for an Ironman race, then I never in my lifetime would have pushed myself to my limits on three consecutive days in three different sports. That’s why I can’t give up training for this Ironman and doing races like Thanksgiving Point – even if it takes me three hours and 17 minutes to finish.
Hopefully, something amazing happens on June 26th in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Until then, this former 371-pounder is going to embrace these magical moments that hurt so good.
P.S. One benefit of running with snow on the ground? It came in quite handy on a couple of occasions when my parched mouth needed a handful of frosty refreshment!