Friday, April 27, 2012

A decade on the run

Ten years ago today, I completed my first-ever endurance event – the 2002 Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, Tenn. I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I signed up for the race (after all, who makes a half marathon their first road race of any kind?!?), or realize the profound impact running would come to have on my life.

Running the 2002 Country Music Half Marathon.
I still remember the tremendous feeling of accomplishment that overcame me when I crossed the finish line for the first time. Later that day, seeing my friend Scott (who convinced me to run the race in the first place) finish the full marathon left an indelible impression on me. At that moment, I told myself that I wanted to do a marathon one day. Almost four years later when I toed the line at the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2006, Scott was there to support me.

While training for my first 26.2-miler, someone told me that after you finish, you will either get hooked on marathons or never want to do another one. I got hooked, and set a goal to become a “50-stater,” that is, run a marathon in all 50 states. I’m up to 13 so far.

Shortly thereafter, I met my friend Brad, who encouraged me to participate in more local events. So I did, including running at least one race (sometimes more) every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day during the summer of 2007. That sparked a notion to try to run a race in every county in North Carolina. Brad liked the idea too, so together we’ve embarked on “Chad and Brad’s 100 County Countdown.”

Running all these races hasn’t been easy, and I’ve certainly had to deal with issues all runners deal with like life, injuries, fatigue, lack of motivation, etc. Along the way, I’ve also learned about things like goal-setting, discipline, sacrifice and chafing (ouch!). Running has taught me a lot about myself, taken me to some wonderful places and introduced me to some amazing people (like my wife, for one. I even managed to squeeze in a 5K on our wedding day!)

But when I think about my the experiences that running has afforded me over the past 10 years, the thing I think about the most is how blessed and thankful I am just to have the ability to run. The late American distance runner Steve Prefontaine once famously said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

Running is a gift that I’ve come to appreciate over my decade on the run. Chance are, there will come a day when I will no longer have the ability to run, but today is not that day. So in the meantime, I’ll just keep running, and hope the next 10 years are as fun and fulfilling as the last 10 have been.

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