Since I've slowed down on the running front, I thought it might be fun, and a good way to build my confidence leading into this weekend, to summarize my top ten running memories (in no particular order).
1. Finishing my first marathon: Cleveland 2003 - I remember in great detail most of this race. Running past my aunts house in Lakewood twice, meeting several interesting runners including a dentist who was running his 112th marathon, feeling my arms go numb and my feet start to get sore at the 22-23 mile mark. Perhaps what I remember most is meeting Teresa at the finish line and falling into her arms in tears of joy. Never has anything hurt so bad but felt so good!
2. Running my first 3 miles non-stop: August 2002 - This run, in my early stages of running (obviously), made me feel on top of the world. It was done in the twighlight hours at the Westlake Rec Center (outdoor all purpose path) and was fueled by thoughts of all the people in my life who would be proud of me for getting out there and getting myself in shape. I literally spent most of the run developing a list of everyone I would invite to watch if I were to ever run a marathon. Shortly after I signed up to run the 2003 Cleveland Marathon.
3. Qualifying for Boston: Toronto 2004 - The perfect race! A beautiful day and a beautiful course. I was aiming for a 3:08 (anything less than 3:10) and finished in 3:03! A negative split marathon. Yes, it can be done! My Dad was instrumental in helping me finish strong as he patiently waited at the 40K mark (24.8 miles) to let me know I had it in my grasps! My parents and Teresa's parents were all waiting at the finish line. Shortly thereafter, I proposed to Teresa and the rest is history!
4. Track workouts with Team in Training: Summer 2005 - I wouldn't be half the runner I am today had it not been for this group and all of the people I've met through this group. Every single person I run with to this day are connected to this group in some way. I used to run alone 90% of the time and now I run alone only 10% of the time.
5. Sub 24 minute 4-miler: July 2005 - 6 minute miles is alway a good target pace for 5k's, which would be about an 18:38 finish time. Sometimes I can run faster than this and other times I'm nowhere close. Some solid speedwork led me to a 23:16 finish (5:49/mile). I was very tired in the end but was equally as excited to have run such a good race.
6. Strong Finish at Youngstown 1/2-marathon: March 2006 - I was told this was a hilly course but was up for the challenge. I found Bryce at the start and we set off at a 6:15-6:30 pace. My shoelace came untied within the first mile and since we were a little ahead of pace, I told Bryce to go on ahead and that I'd catch up with him. As soon as I caught up with him a right turn and a monster hill greeted us. I was already slightly out of breath from having picked up the pace to make up for my stupid shoelace! The next 3-4 miles were awful and I thought for sure I would self destruct. I remained patient and before I knew it, I was feeling good again and passing people by mile 10 and ultimately finishing in 1:26:20 (12th place overall)!
7. Bench-Bar Halloween 5K: October 2002 - What's more fun (and memorable) than running in costume? I was still pretty much a virgin runner at this point but managed to squeak out a 19:34 and place in my age group. I also won an award for best costume, Raggedy Ann! Run Raggedy! Run!
8. Cleveland Browns TD Run (5K): August 2004 - A solid 5k is always hard to come by because it's pretty much an all out race. If you don't "got it" on that day... "it" ain't happenin'! On this day I ran so good I finished well under 18 minutes (17:32 I think) and ran my final mile the fastest. Perhaps it was the finish on the field of Cleveland Browns Stadium that made the difference for me.
9. Boston Marathon: April 2005/2006 - I will forever be proud of the fact that my name owns a permanent place in the official records of the 109th and 110th running of this famed race. The inspiration for countless speedwork sessions and long runs, Boston remains the benchmark for many runners. Have you qualified?
10. Crossing the finish line at Ironman France: June 2006 - After a slow swim and an average bike, I slipped on my running shoes and went off for 26.2 of the most memorable miles of my life. I fought through 80+ degree heat and slight dehydration to finish ahead of people that started their marathon an hour or so before me. Because of this, I'm not sure I'll ever consider myself a triathlete. I'm more like a runner who was crazy enough to train for a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike prior to running a marathon.