It’s not often I would consider running a marathon… Hell, I grew up being a sprinter. I hated running anything longer than one lap around a track. I grew up idolizing sprinters Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene because they ran with great sense of gaudy style and grand purpose.
So I thought.
I was running just because I felt like staying in shape. I wanted to look great in formal clothes. I wasn’t going to be the cliche photographer that has a belly acted pretentious. I want to walk with confidence and accomplish things mere mortals could only dream of. Which is why I purchased some brand spanking new Nike running shoes with the sole purpose of running in them (and possibly walking around in tights and running shorts to fit in with the cool kids of Atlanta).
I ran 26 miles in two weeks. I felt great! I was out here doing it! While I was running, I saw there was a big marathon sponsored by Publix and the Atlanta Track Club. I never thought I would run at least 13.1 miles… on a Sunday morning after I photographed a party that ended 3 hours before the start of the race…
Or so I thought.
On the Monday of Marathon Week, Julie (owner of Urban Perform gym in Atlanta) asked me if I would run the half-marathon. I looked around whilst laying down on the bench in bewilderment. I asked myself, ‘Are you really going to do this?’ My running partner Markita and Julie looked at me and said, ‘You don’t have to answer right now. Think about it.’
24 hours later, I decided to run the Georgia Publix Half-Marathon.
As soon as I said yes, I was overcome with fear because if I failed to finish the race, I could not live with myself. I got my diet together, got my sleep pattern together and mentally began to pay the price so I can finish this race. In addition, I had a personal goal of finishing the half-marathon in less than three hours.
Race day is finally here. After careful sleep and planning, I was excited! I got my Nike running shorts and running tights. I had my black running pullover to keep me warm and wore a stars and stripes bandana to pop some color. I was overcome with adrenaline. I had the best 20 minute stretching and warmup ever. I was inspired. I was full of confidence! As soon as I started running, I hit go on my Nike running app to track my progress.
The first six miles, I was fine. I averaged about 12 minutes per mile. I didn’t think the course was that hilly because I trained in my neighborhood and it was very hilly. My stamina was perfect, my feet didn’t swell up, I didn’t cramp and I was feeling awesome.
At mile seven, I notice my toes begin to develop blisters. I have never experienced this… EVER. I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m not dirty. I wash my toes. WTF is this?’
I maintained my pace. Around mile nine, I hit the proverbial wall. My left hip was sore. My feet asked me, ‘Do you know who the Hell we are?’ I was feeling like a pile of rubbish! However I built up so much time, I was able to walk it out run when I absolutely needed to. After all, I wanted to finish this in less than 3 hours!
Miles, 10, 11 and 12 were a test of mental and physical strength. I wasn’t going to quit. That was the furthest thing from my mind. I knew I was going to finish this race, but I was now competing against the clock.
When I had one mile to go, I pace walked. My thighs felt like I did leg day 3 times per day for 10 weeks. They were full of lactic acid. But I knew this was almost over! It wasn’t about the pain and more so about maintaining my time!
I saw the finish line! I knew I was going to finish in less than three hours! Instead of powering through like most coaches tell you to, I pulled out my phone and Snapchatted the final steps while crossing the finish line. If Maurice Greene was racing someone today, he’d do the same thing, in my humble opinion!
As soon as I grabbed the mylar cape, banana, medal and bottled water, I looked around and thought to myself, ‘Damn, I ran my first half-marathon in 2 hours and 45 minutes! I was on 4 hours of sleep and trained for this in three weeks! How fast could I run if I put in a full-training regimen?’
I was sore, I was tired, I couldn’t move my legs… however, I felt this strength and confidence come over me. The athlete and Spartan in me was satisfied! I would absolutely do it all over again! As soon as my muscles recover, I want to run my next half and finish in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes!