The phrase “There’s a first time for everything” is used regularly. The phrase can be used to explain the mindset it takes for a person to embrace an experience never sought or a goal never attained before. The words can be used to justify an act that one would rather forget. It’s a phrase that means many things for many people, and even when it can mean nothing, it can mean absolutely everything. The phrase alone was what brought April 10, 2016 and Fair Park to converge together for the Big D Marathon. On second thought, the date and the location were going down no matter what. The wild card was who would be participating given that the event was a first.
There are various approaches to training for a half marathon, a distance covering 13.1 miles. Some people train in paid and organized groups for about ten weeks (1). Others train with the sights of a big event such as The Boston Marathon in their sights (2). Well, seeing as how the "There's a first time for everything" phrase was the rallying cry to prepare for the marathon in Dallas, that didn’t mean this was something that was marked on the calendar six months ago. More so, it happened due to two factors: one, a close friend laying down the challenge to run a half marathon over a year ago, but our schedules did not allow a marathon to be run together in 2015; and two, a co-worker bringing the marathon to attention around a month or so ago. With the word of a previously agreed upon marathon in the universe, yet one never run, the wheels were set in motion to take on The Big D on April 10. Despite the agreement being made, there was still no rush to train for the event. The logic was when it was time to prepare, then it would happen. Three weeks prior to the race, March 15th to be exact, it was time to prepare.
A 3-week training camp to prepare for 13.1 miles is not advisable. As a matter of fact, it’s irresponsible simply because so many things can go wrong (3), especially because the training was pretty much made up as I went along. Still, there was no use in crying over spilled milk. A trail near the house served as the training ground, and it was time to go to work. The first couple of distance runs covered 3.5 and 4 miles, respectively, but the pain and the lack of wind made it seem like the distance was ridiculously more. Soon after the initial runs, strength started to return, the lack of wind turned into controlled breathing and all was well, but with two weeks left, taking on anything more than 8 miles at a time seemed like too much of a tall order. Then 9 days before the race, it was time to take on the distance. Granted, the actual course wasn’t available to run, so it took having to duplicate the distance at the park, but being able to finish the run nine days before the race served as enough of a confidence booster to take on the Big D Marathon on the 10th.
The day of the race was peaceful enough. Over 1,600 runners converged at Fair Park for the marathon, some running the full 26.2 miles and others running the half. People-watching is one of my more enjoyable activities, and before the start of the race felt like a good time to take in the scene of the folks who were out there and their motivations for doing so. There were some people who were veterans of the marathon game. They had on shirts from marathons past, hopping and skipping around like they didn’t have a care in the world.
There were groups of competitive runners, the folks who weren’t there to fool around. Lord knows how long they gathered prior to the race to prepare for the start, but it is safe to conclude they were there much earlier than my arrival time of 20 minutes before the sound of the horn to start the morning’s festivities. There was a break from people-watching and stretching to chat with a fellow runner and a Cowboys fan to talk about who the Cows should take in the NFL Draft next month. The brief chat with the runner was the approach to the day: take everything with a grain of salt and talk to anyone who wanted to talk, even while running. The headphones stayed in the car. There were no sounds of Sade, Frankie Beverly, D’Angelo, Adele or anyone else to keep me company for the duration of the race. The only sounds would be of feet to pavement, plastic cups hitting the ground after people downed water and Gatorade, folks breathing in and out and shouts of encouragement from the first mile to the very end.
The race came and went, and it was a fun time. The first time for almost everything was no longer a first. It was something to cross off the bucket list. After the race, there were plenty of handshakes and hugs with people who started out as strangers 2 hours before the race, but ended as friendly acquaintances and people who could be seen later down the road.
Image courtesy of Nike.