Just under a year ago I toed the line for my first 1/2 marathon a nervous child in a man’s body. I had never run more than 8 miles and was attempting 13.1 on soon to be sweltering day in Nashville, TN. Over 30,000 other runners stood in front of and behind me waiting for the magical moment. And I really had to pee.
The pre-race lines were way too long and I stood in corral 16 squeezing my legs together and hoping that somehow my need for a bathroom would go away. Then the people started moving and I followed. It was too late now.
I crossed the start line and began to run. The crowd and energy made me forget both why on earth I would try something like this and my urge to find a hidden tree.
The Nashville Skyline stood proud in the distance and I slogged my way toward the center of downtown. Thousands of fans cheered and held signs above their heads and I was swept up in the emotion as I ran by my first Nashville apartment. The Honky Tonks were rockin’ and I nearly floating as I made the turn towards the big long hill that everyone complains about.
The sun was rising and it was starting to get hot. I ran for what seemed like forever and finally reached the “roundabout” at Music Row. People were everywhere and the band at mile 3 was knee deep in a Stones’ classic.
This scene repeated itself for the next 8 miles and I was elated . . . until I suddenly realized my legs felt like bricks. I could hardly move and my “swift” 10 minute pace fell like a rock to 11:30, but I kept churning. I would not walk.
It was all I could do to stay on my feet running down the final hill and turning into the finish line chute. Somehow, I made it, and it was the most amazing feeling. I entered 2012 with no intention of running and less than four months later I ran a 1/2 marathon. I felt invincible.
I have come a long way since then and have many bigger plans, but after the events in Boston and the show of community pride following the tragedy, I couldn’t stop thinking about that initial run down Broadway in my hometown. Today at lunch, I happened to be on that very road, stuck in traffic, and wished I could just park the car and run. Next Saturday, that is exactly what will happen.