On March 18th I had the honor and privilege to run the New York Road Runners New York City Half-Marathon along with 15,000 other runners from across the globe. The elite field consisted of United States Olympic hopefuls, Meb Keflezighi, Desiree Davila, Kara Goucher and Dathan Ritzenhein, in addition to some of the world's best runners including New Zealand's Kim Smith, Kenya's Caroline Rotich winner of last year's NYRR NYC Half, as well as Kenya’s Peter Kirui and 2011 ING NYC Marathon winner Ethiopia’s Firehiwot Dado.
It was truly one of those life defining moments to run through Central Park, down 7th Avenue, to 42nd Street and down the West Side Highway, along the Hudson River before crossing the finish line at the South Street Seaport with thousands of spectators lining the course and cheering the runners on stride for stride.
The whole New York experience was a dream fulfilled which started on Thursday afternoon at the Metropolitan Pavilion, the site for the expo. It was there that I finally connected with my virtual running coach, John Honerkamp of the New York Road Runners. When I was accepted into the race on New Year's Eve, I decided this was the event I was going to attempt to break my personal record for the Half-Marathon. In doing so, I wanted to get another coach's perspective on my training. He was such a huge inspiration to me, helping through some of the most grueling training sessions I have ever done. I must confess going from a 3-4 day week runner to a five day a week runner was one of the biggest hurdles for me to overcome.
Me with Desiree Davila
The first six weeks I felt like I did when I first started running. I was tired and a tad sore, but as with any other exercise, the more consistent you are with your workouts, the better adapted your body becomes to the activity. I just had to remind myself that this was all part of the process to becoming a better runner.
Ten weeks and well over 300 miles run in course of training later, I arrived in New York City ready to tackle my next accomplishment. Having the opportunity to meet Meb, Desi, Kim, Dathan and Kara at The Night of Champions party was a dream come true. There is such a sense of humility for runners. For those of us who have the opportunity to spend time with these great athletes, it was truly a night to remember.
Me with Meb Keflezighi
Each athlete took some time to tell those of us gathered for the evening a bit of how they got into running. I was so touched to hear Kara Goucher tell her story that running was something she could do. She tried swimming and playing team sports, such as softball, but she lacked the skills to play those sports, however, the one activity she could do was run. She started running at the age of 12 and as they say, the rest is history.
Kara's story struck such a chord with me as I, too, lacked the skills to participate in organized sports when I was younger. It just took me 30 plus years to discover the joy of running. Just a few short days ago I celebrated my sixth anniversary in running--a sport that has truly taken me to some amazing places and has allowed me to meet some of the most amazing people in the world. You don't have to be a runner to live your and fulfill your dreams. This journey is about going out there and as Chris 'SparkGuy' Downie has preached to us all, 'To live your life as an adventure!'
What do you do to live your life as an adventure?
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