It was 7:55 AM and our first event together was about to begin. I made sure to thoroughly stretch, but it was slightly cold outside. My parents had left us at the starting line so that they could get in a good position to take pictures of us running along the trail. At 8 AM, the Rose Bowl Half Marathon began, just two hours after I found out that I was going to be running one.
The race started off simple enough, until a half a mile into the race when hundreds of runners bottle necked at the entrance to a one person wide trail, immediately bringing us to a walking pace. Eventually, the trail opened up and I was able to run at my own pace. At the three and a half mile mark, I started to feel a pain in my knee . . . this was not good. But, I had committed myself to trying my hardest to run the entire race.
At the beginning of our race, a fellow runner told us about this killer hill that we would eventually have to climb, so the entire race I had that hill on my mind. We hit that wall around the 9 mile mark I believe and, although, not the hill she thought it was, I sure thought it was tough. I tried my hardest to run up that hill, but I had to walk for a bit, everyone that I saw did. Eventually, after making it up that hill it was clean running from there . . . for the most part.
The trail running was intense, it was full of rocks and pebbles which really did a number on my knees, constantly having to dodge rocks and awkward angles for my feet. The pain did not go away the entire time that I ran. I did not have a single person pass me on the trail for the first 11 miles, at which point I began to slow down. I kept a pretty good pace the up to that point, but at that 11th mile I began to struggle, constantly fighting the urge to walk. I was very close a couple of times, but held strong in my commitment to complete the race, running the entire time.
The last two miles were tough and I was thinking that I was going to collapse right after I crossed that finish line. The course was designed to end at the 50 yard line inside the Rose Bowl. Just outside of the Rose Bowl workers were gathered along the line and were cheering each runner as they came in. Although it was nice, these cheers did not seem genuine, but there was one man, who looked liked he had finished the race much earlier than I, who was encouraging people along. He told me that I had one minute left and I felt the tears well up in my eyes. When you get that exhausted, I think emotions become more intense, but I just kept thinking how great it was. Here was a man, who did not know me, ran his own race and still came by to give support, for no other reason than to encourage others. That kind of stuff gets me every time.
The last minute of the run was a blur, the second I came down the tunnel onto the field, I saw green shirts beyond the finish line, which I thought were my parents and this spurned me on. Although, I thought I had nothing left in the tank, I turned on the afterburners and sprinted across the finish line. Exhausted and mentally drained, my parents came to congratulate me on a job well done . . .
Stay Tuned for Part #4