Saturday, I ran my first half marathon. It started in the mountains, and came down the hill into the valley.
The scenery was really nice for the majority of the run, and the downhill grade probably helped me to get a much better time than I would have if I had to run the whole thing on flat land. It wasn't a great time anyway, but I did manage to get in just over 2:36. 2:36:09.2 to be exact. I came in 1,671st place overall, and I was the 624th man to cross the finish line. I think the genders probably weren't very well balanced among the participants.
My wife and kids came out to cheer me on, and they made signs that said things like, "13 miles, that's really far, come on Dad, you're a star!" And they were right. It was really far, but I made it the whole way without ever walking. And that is what really matters, at least to me.
Sadly, a half marathon is only half way to my goal. Up until Saturday, I hadn't felt like things had been too hard. But upon finishing that race, I felt like I should be finished. I'm really going to have to step it up to make it to 26 miles. I've been slacking a fair amount recently. I'll have to quit with that. Slackers don't make it to the end of a marathon.
I won't give up though. The race on Saturday was to benefit cancer patients, to help them pay for their treatment if they couldn't afford it. Part of the things that they did was put inspirational phrases along the route for the runners to read. A lot of them were cancer related. Things like, "I'm running for her," "The day I found out I had cancer, I decided that I was a cancer survivor," or "This mile is for Mom." But some of them were simply encouragement for runners. Several of the phrases resonated with me, and one of them particularly so.
My brother-in-law who has been training with me and ran the race on Saturday with me as well, keeps saying that I need to do something less than a marathon. He says he worries that I'll get injured, because I'm starting from scratch and going to the top of the mountain so quickly. He thinks I should take years to get to the point I want to go to. He says, "You can't win, Rocky!"
The phrase I remember best from along the race course was this: "I run because I can, I can because I want to, I want to because you said I can't."
I won't quit. I will keep running until I cross that damned 26.2 mile finish line. Maybe I will get injured, and it might sideline me for a spell, but it won't matter, because I won't give up. As Rocky always showed us at the end of each sequel, he could win. He did win.