Sunday, December 30, 2007
Although I trained for and ran a marathon last January, and although I have kept up a somewhat respectable training routine since then, I completed my first official half-marathon last month. I was timid, mostly because my left foot had been aching; a mysterious soreness that seems to alternate between my plantar and my achilles. Basically, I feared that a long run at race pace might knock me out of the sport for a while. No one has ever confused me for being Kenyan, so it wasn't a huge shift to slow to a 12 minute mile.
I drove up to Cocoa for a warm Florida race that unveiled a new theme this year: Space. From the countdown of the Space Shuttle on the jumbotron at the start, to the alien costumes running past me, the excitement was in the air. I even saw dolphins twice along the Indian River route. Without the lust for a PR, I was able to pay attention to the moment and really enjoy running for running's sake. After feeling fine at the turn-around, I started to pick it up a bit. By the last 5K, I was full of energy and inspiration. I was passing people left and right, even skipping my intervals with little effort. All was well, I had made up lots of time and was ending up a little faster than predicted.
When I came around the corner of the public park, the crowd went wild. Not only did I have the regular race photographers snapping away, I had video cameras surrounding me. People were clapping and yelling "Looking good!" I felt like a million bucks....until I heard a bicycle approaching from behind and a man yelling "Get out of the way!!!!!"
Thirty-three year old, Ezekiel Ruto, was hurtling towards me and quite possibly would have mowed me over had the "Lead Runner" biker not come through. Ezekiel was completing the full marathon just about the time I was finishing the half. Still, it was a great race. And basking in the winner's glory for 25 seconds was nice, too.