Friday, April 27, 2012

Taking Time To Say Thanks

Nearly four weeks ago, I completed my first marathon. Running is an individual sport, but there is no way I made across the finish line without the help, support and encouragement of others.

It was an amazing journey. Of course, the race is still fresh in my memory, but I believe the 2012 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon will go down as one of my all-time favorite races. And why wouldn't it be? It was my first marathon! I had a truly amazing experience, and I'm ready for more.

But before I get too far away from completing my first and before I begin focusing on my next race adventure, I want to take a moment to take those who helped me get across the finish line. I realize it's impossible for me to name each and every one of you all, and I don't even want to try to list all who were there for me during the journey. There are so many of you I know I would leave someone out. It's inevitable.

The marathon is such an amazing journey, one I once never believed was for me. I remember crossing the finish line of my first half marathon in October of 2010 thinking, "I can't wait to do that again." Which was followed by, "There's no way I can imagine going twice as long."

Even after finishing my second half, I felt a marathon would be too much for me.

Then, a funny thing happened. As I began to train for a series of three half marathons to be completed in a 50-day span, a voice began speaking to me saying: "You can do a marathon. You've more than got the ability." Somewhere along the way, I heeded to the voice and signed up for the Knoxville Marathon.

And since I made that decision, I did not regret it one iota. Questioned my sanity a few times, but never regretted it.

The encouragement and support I received as I trained for and subsequently finished the marathon was mind-blowing. I knew the running community was awesome, just didn't realize how awesome. Whenever I doubted myself or struggled with a workout, I didn't have far to go to find someone to help pick me back up.

Dave Parsons and I after a run last May in Kingsport, Tenn.
First, my local running group - the Falls Road Runners, were a great such of help and encouragement. Many of them were also training for their first marathon this spring, so it was a great two-way street. Our leader, Chris, provided me some great guidance during my training, especially in the final weeks of preparation. Feeling under prepared and wanting to tack on more mileage, Chris reassured me that I was ready and did not need to push as hard as I thought I needed to. So glad I listened to Chris' advice.

Next on my thank-you list are all my Twitter running pals, DailyMile friends and Idiots Running Club comrades. Oh my goodness, the help, advice, encouragement and support I gleaned from this bunch was overwhelming at times. If I had been smart, I would've wrote it all down to put it in a book. It was fun sharing training stories with Shawna as we both trained for our first marathons (FYI, she' running her first this weekend!!!). David Murphy is always ready with a good training tip or two like: just go run and rub some dirt on it. Then there's my fellow member of #TeamKlutz - Lori and Kristie, who've been two of my biggest cheerleaders. They really helped me to enjoy the journey and remember to laugh along the way. David H. and the rest of the #runchat community will always bee a constant source of support and advice. Want to know how awesome the running community is, check out #runchat on Twitter.

Mark T. and Michaela B. are two others whose friendship has been invaluable. Met Mark via Twitter and Michaela via DailyMile, and it's been wonderful sharing stories and tips with these two as well as get to meet them in real life as I've ran three races with both.

Of course, Dave Parsons - the idiot, fool, lunatic person who helped get me into running, was a huge help. He had ran his first marathon in October and was a great resource on training for your first full. I blame thank Dave for getting me into this mess adventure.

Sarah and I with our finisher's medals
I would be remiss if I failed to mention Sarah Stanley. After all, she only flew in from Colorado to pace me during the race. She did a great job of not only helping me reach my goal of finishing the race but also to do so in under 5 hours. I've been fortunate to have known Sarah for a while now (she offered me some great tips in prepping for my first half marathon), and it was fun getting to run a race with her.

Last, and by no means least, my family. As every runner knows, one sacrifices a lot when training for a race. Whether it be a 5K or a marathon, you give up something. And the runner is not the only who makes sacrifices, but their loved ones do as well. My bride and kids gave up a lot during my training, most notably time with me as I logged all those miles. They were also a constant source of support and encouragement, asking how far I ran that day and if it went well. Outside of doing it for myself, they were the No. 1 reason I wanted to cross the finish line. They were the ones I wanted to celebrate the moment with.

My daughter, Haylee, and I after the
Knoxville Marathon.
All during the race - especially during the final few miles, I thought of all of those who helped me through this journey. Most notably my bride and kids. What kept me pushing was the thought of celebrating this accomplishment with them. It was an amazing feeling running on the field at Neyland Stadium, but as soon as I crossed the finish line, I immediately went into search mode. I had to find my family. So intent on finding them, I didn't stop my Garmin until after I had found them, gave my bride a kiss and hugged my kids - well as much as they would let me hug them, I was a wee bit sweaty.

My bride and kids have been an awesome support time and have been there with and for me all along the way. Thank you, Genople, Jayson and Haylee! I love you guys so much.

For the longest time, I always thought I ran alone in part because my crazy schedule forced me to run at odd and different times. I have since learned that I'm not alone. The running community is always with you, and this experience has hammered home that point big time.

Happy running!


  1. This is such a wonderful post! All through my running career I try my best to thank all of those who have helped carry me along the journey. You've done a wonderful job and have such an amazing support system!!! Many more happy running miles to you. :)
    (Kim. E. on DM)

    1. Thanks, Kim! I am just so grateful for the ability to run I want to try my best to thank those who help me along the way.

  2. Awesome post. Thanks for the shout-out!