Sunday, October 19, 2008

Day 84 -- The Finish Line

Edit Note: If you read this prior to Sunday evening, I've made an edit to this post, regarding my finishing time. Thanks!
First, I gotta take a moment to once again thank all of you for your kind thoughts and words of encouragement and support. There have been too many for me to thank individually, but I wanted to take a moment to say "thanks"; it means a lot!

Second, I want to offer a huuuuge thanks to Jody and Christian -- without the two of you and your support and understanding there is no way I could have completed the run. Jody has encouraged me to follow this running thing as far as I want to go. Christian has been a great training partner on all the runs we did together. Thanks, Crew!

Finally, I wanna thank my Dad for showing up at the race. What a surprise! Mom wanted to be there, but was feeling under the weather and stayed home to recover. I think my Dad was at every bike race I did back in the day, he came to just about every game through school, and come to most of our high school golf matches. He's always been there and it was great to have him there yesterday. You are never to old to feel proud to have your Dad come and watch to participate.

As for the event:

Getting out the door on time didn't happen, we left about 15 minutes later than I would have liked. Yet, considering the situation, we didn't do too bad. While I left a cushion of time to arrive early, the traffic was crazy. We rolled into the parking lot about 15 minutes before the race was to begin. I wasn't stressing about it, I just figured that my race started when I crossed the start line, even if everyone else was already gone. Big deal. So, "no excuses" and "no worries" were the motto of the day.

Of course, I had to hit the porta-john before the start and the line was huge, even though the race was starting in a matter of minutes. So, obviously I wasn't the only one late to the start. The National Anthem was played and the starters pistol was fired before I finally finished up business. No worries...

Here I am in line for the porta-john. Only reason I wanted to share this pic is because fellow "ProMotion" employee, Jess Leeman is also standing in line. She's in the grey sweatshirt, just to my right. Small world that we saw each other.

I made my way to the start corral and made my way to the rear of the group. As I made my way into the back 1/4 of the field, the mass began to move nearer the start line. Off we went. My game plan was to run just below my edge, at my endurance pace, which is normally around an 11:00-12:00 per mile pace. The first 3 miles were all around 10:00 per mile, but I felt great. Man, there were people running around me that were gasping and breathing hard, as if the finish line were within sight. I'm not sure if they did the whole race like that or what. Or, did they even finish?

Christian and I just before the start. Yup, still in line for the porta-john...

The way the route was laid out, I got to see Jody, Christian and Dad at the 1.5 mile mark and the 5 mile mark, which was really cool and I got to have a couple laughs along the way as well.

The first 7 miles were pretty uneventful, in many ways. I just ran my race, ran within myself, yet took in all that was around me as I really wanted to take in the wholeness of the experience. Around mile 8, I saw Rob Johansen. He was nearing the mile 12 marker and had just left the hilly section of the course. He looked great, relaxed and in rhythm, so I knew he was doing well. By my watch, I guessed he was going to finish in just over 90 minutes. Turns out, he came in under 95 minutes! Awesome.

At different points in the run, I observed all types of people running for all types of reasons. They were running with all types of form and all types of mindsets. Personally, I am more introspective; I don't like to talk while I run or carry on a conversation. I don't mind running with others, I just don't want to talk while doing it. There were people running with their iPods, rocking out and singing. One woman was running with another lady and she was rambling on like she had ADD, carrying on a monologue for the entire 1/2 mile that I ran near them. I ran near another couple for a mile or so, they were obviously married. They were having a conversation that a couple might have while driving down the road or around the kitchen table. "So, did you ever get the bill from your doctors visit?" She asked. "Yeah, it came a couple weeks ago", he said. No kidding, this is what they were talking about! She says, "oh, okay, well, have you started paying on it yet?" His response was "nah, not yet..." After that I tuned them out.
At one point a runner next to me popped out an ear bud and asked if I was doing the "whole" or the "half", which was a redundant question because you could tell by the color of your number which race you were doing. She was just looking to start a conversation. I was polite and spoke to her for a while and asked her some questions. Long story short, after a 1/4 mile or so, I slowed my pace more and more and she popped her ear bud back in and moved up ahead of me. As we entered the aid station, I ran past her and kept going : -) Not being rude, I just didn't want to chit chat.

While I was out running, Jody, Dad, and Christian found plenty to do. Here Dad is hanging out with Christian, wearing both their hats...

Probably the most challenging part of the course was through Ft. Ben Park, it was also the most beautiful and scenic. The couple-mile loop went down a couple rolling hills, around a small lake, and then climbed back up out of the park. Things really didn't level off again until the 12 mile mark. It wasn't too bad, as I had prepared by running hills the last couple months and my training route was actually more hilly than the race.

Through most of the run I was around a a 10:00 - 10:30 per mile pace. And while I felt great, as though I could pick it up, I thought I should conserve as I had not ran beyond 10 miles in my training. My intention was to finish around 2:30 - 2:40. The rookie thing would have been to run hard early and then bonk with 3 miles to go. So, I ran just below my edge into the unknown (anything beyond 10 miles was unknown for me).

I stopped to take a picture with my phone, which I then texted to Jody and Dad. I thought they would get a kick out of it. Turns out, they did. Ha!

Once I reached mile 12, the excitement finally kicked in, as I knew the finish was near. I reflected on the training leading up to the event. I reflected on the Project and all the Graduates. I reflected on why I was even running. I reflected on everything and nothing.

The home stretch!
Coming across the finish line, I felt very emotional, a surge of joy, relief, love and more; it was a great release and I can only recall feeling like that on a couple other occasions, all of which occurred at the end of big fitness challenges. One occasion was in boot camp, when I crossed the finish line of the 1.5 mile run final fitness test and it was under the required time for graduation. Prior to the final test, I had never finished under the required time, so I was pretty stressed about getting held back from graduation. With enough practice, a full-on effort, and the support of my fellow recruits, I made it and was overjoyed and overcome with emotion. Hitting the finish line yesterday felt a lot like that.
My "official" finishing time was 2:20:08. Not bad for a first-timer, 40 year old, non-runner : -)
"Team Roche" after the run.

While I do not yet know the full extent of what's up with this whole running thing, I do know that I've gained some insight -- aside from the obvious aspects such as discipline, commitment, and balance; for me, endurance running is about personal discovery, self knowledge, and inner exploration. It's also a method to help move through self-sabotage, letting go of false self-held beliefs and other personal challenges. And it's about cultivating an ever deepening experience, understanding, and relationship with God. It's that simple. It's that complex. Oh, I also learned that it IS possible to blog every day for 84 consecutive days!

I'm very interested and excited to continue exploring the endurance aspect of "me" and discovering where "me" begins and "me" ends, and I know that this endeavor is one vehicle to help learn where that "edge" may lie.

All smiles after the run.

Today I feel great, only a minor amount of tenderness in a couple leg muscles. I feel content and I feel pleased to have accomplished my vision of doing a half marathon using only the Project Principles and Project Diet. This part of the Project test has come to a close.

So, what's next? The Tecumseh Trail Marathon on December 6th. For this event, I have no intention or "goal" other than to finish and I intend on doing it using only the Project Principles and Diet.

Depending on how Tecumseh goes, I'll let you know what's really up my sleeve...!

Thanks for reading, thanks for visiting my blog, and thanks for putting up with me focusing on "me" over the last 84 days, at least a little more than usual.

After today, it's back to the Project and all of you. Hard to believe that I kept up on the blog for 84 days. It's gonna seem weird not to post every day, though I do have plenty of blog material on standby, so I'm sure I'll still post several times each week.

In Peace,



Anonymous said...

Congrats Chris!! Sounds like you had a great day! Now the count down begins for your trail marathon! :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Coach Chris - CONGRATULATIONS! Your account was quite inspiring - my favorite part was about your Dad. Beautiful. I recall meeting him once of course - that meeting means even more now. Thank you. The photo with Jess in the background was cool - I rode some of the Hilly with her today - she was SO STOKED and bouncing around like Tigger from her run - it was beautfiul, too. Saw her last at Lunch and she was still all smiles. That's a good sign.
Your constancy, your consistency, in blogging is really what has had me in awe the most through all of this -


Alison Cole said...

Way to go Chris. I am so glad that the hills of Ft. Ben were a piece of cake for you. I went to run them today and they finally came easy... which means I have been making some progress myself. I can't wait to see you all next Saturday to hear more. Congratulations on such a wonderful accomplishment. I know how it feels. Alison

Rob Johansen said...

What a beautiful description of your run, you said, "it's that simple, and that complex". I am a little choked up as I think of your pic with Jodi and Christian after you finished the run. So proud of you and your beautiful "team" of supporters.

And soooo looking forward to chatting with you about all of that day. What a great time....

Lots of love,


Christine Wolfe said...

Yea ... you did it! We are as proud of you as you are of us! Keep up the good work, can't wait to hear your account of the trial run!

Island girl trying to catch the healthy wave said...

Ambassador to Health and Fitness Chris!!

I am so proud of your accomplishment and what an inspiration! Your dedication to fitness helps all of us keep the mantra "No Excuses". Thank you for sharing all your goodness with the world. YOU DO MAKE AN IMPACT!
I love the picture of your team. One day we will see Christian doing it too!!! Namaste.