I ran the Cleveland Half-Marathon today!
My kids celebrated the event with a big hand-made sign hung on the front porch (facilitated, no doubt, by my lovely wife).
But for most people, I imagine that hearing of an accomplishment such as mine would prompt a response something like, “Oh, that’s nice” — or maybe “Good for you!” And honestly, I can’t find any fault in a response such as that. Lots of people run races. Heck: 22,000 ran the one in Cleveland this morning! My time in the race was exceedingly average, and in the grander scheme of things a foot-race really doesn’t mean a whole lot.
Regardless, I’m enjoying the sense of accomplishment that comes with an event such as this. Knowing everything that I know about my own personal preparation process — the hundreds of thousands of steps that preceded these 13.1 miles — the successful completion of the Cleveland Half-Marathon means something to me. I remember running through the Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years holidays. I remember temperatures around zero degrees Farenheit. I remember deep snow. I remember soaking rain.
I remember miles of conversation with friends who started training for this race with me back in late-February — and I remember miles when we were too winded for any kind of conversation at all.
I remember doing the Black Squirrel 5K Race together with my friend Jason — back in early-April — struggling to keep up with his ambitious, experienced stride but ultimately letting the experience to help me finish in a time that I never would have imagined for myself.
I remember all the hours that my wife “held down the fort” with the kids and other house guests so that I could put in all the training that was required to prepare myself for race day.
I remember dozens and dozens of mornings, waking up at 6:00 sharp so I could get the miles in before other responsibilities demanded my time and attention.
And I remember getting up at 4:00 this morning in order to drive up to Cleveland together with the rest of my running buddies (I’m sure they’re going to love the “publication” of the flattering photograph from our van ride!), speeding through the darkness to reach the starting line in the shadow of Cleveland’s downtown skyline.
I remember the carnival atmosphere at the starting corrals. I remember the loudspeakers playing “Why Don’t You Fill Me Up, Buttercup?” and “Cleveland Rocks.” I remember stretching out our muscles and preparing our minds for the race.
I remember the start of the race and stumbling through thousands of other racers to keep my pace and keep my place in the procession. I remember running past thousands of cheering fans holding amusing signs like, “Blisters are Braille for ‘Awesome!'” I remember kicking up the pace over the last couple of miles with my friends Aidan and Jason, crossing the line together (though I don’t remember a single bit of the scenery for that last half-mile). And I remember the intense feeling of gratification at having reached my (our) goal.
It really was a great experience for me, personally. The numbers only tell a part of the story — a total time of 1 hour, 53 minutes, and 51 seconds, 185th place for my age group, 995th place among all the men in the race, and 1456th in the race overall — but the pictures and the memories tell a whole lot more. And it makes me glad that we went through with it.