This weekend was a blur. Friday night, I had the rare luxury of the house to myself. Unfortunately, I also had a boatload of work to trudge through. Saturday started early, as I was on the road to Philadelphia by 4 am. Why Philly? Because the greatest shoe company in the world comped my race and gave me a chance to represent them. I love being a moving billboard for Brooks, and proudly wear their clothes and shoes. I'm pretty tough on my gear, and Brooks has always been up to the challenge. I love you guys.
Back to Philly. At the expo, I got a chance to meet John Bingham, the author of The Accidental Athlete and former Runner's World columnist. Mr. Bingham is a gentleman who promotes the back of the pack. His philosophy is that runners should run as slow as possible, in order to get their money's worth from the race. He believes that anyone who puts on a pair of running shoes and registers for a race is an athlete, not just the top ten finishers. His book had me laughing out loud, and it was an honor to meet him.
After the expo, I had some free time, a luxury I exploited. My friend Chad and his family also made the trip, but they were smart enough to leave on Friday. Our kids take karate together, and we became fast friends due mainly to Chad's inability to let me sit quietly. Within a short time, I was dropping hints about completing a half marathon. We signed up for one together and I hope the beaming pride that oozed from him after that race never fades from my memory.
Well, here we were again. Chad now has 9 half marathons under his belt (and two other distances, I know you count total races, buddy). And, he's registered for several more halfs. I believe I have created a monster.
At the start, I got to run up the Art Museum's steps, ala Rocky, while Eye of the Tiger blasted through the speakers. Hokey? Maybe, but c'mon aren't you a little bit jealous? Then I found Chad, and I literally skipped over to him. I danced to the blaring music as the gun went off and we waited the 1/2 hour to get to the starting line (that's what happens with 26,000 runners). Chad and I decided to start the race together. His back was hurting and I just wanted to make sure he got off to a good start. We would run the first 5k at his pace.
The race was awesome! There were bands or single musicians every half mile. Some quite good, and some, well... Chad, who did the touristy things yesterday, was pointing out landmarks for me. When he showed me the building the Liberty Bell was in, I had to act. I jumped off the course, ran to the building, cleared security, found the bell, took a good look, ran out the back door, and ran to catch up to Chad. Very cool, and very worth it. I did the same thing at Ben Franklin's grave. I missed Betsy Ross' house, but there is always next year :)
At 5k, Chad knew I was itching to stretch my legs. He was in good shape and keeping his pace. I did not have a worry about him crossing the finish line, so we parted ways. I kicked it into gear. It has been a long time since I have run a race for speed and it felt really, really good. I held even splits and got to pass about 14,000 runners. How cool is that?!?! Had I not raced with Chad, which I in NO WAY REGRET, I might have set a new personal record for this distance. I even had an impromptu slow dance with a guy dressed as Mr. Incredible (don't tell Mark). Yeah, I had a good day.
I called Chad during the 6.5 hour ride home. His race went better then expected, and there was that pride again! Way to go, my friend. I enjoyed every second of our time together. But, completing this race now puts you one half marathon ahead of me----let's meet in Philly again next year, so I can get closer to evening the score!