Thursday, August 25, 2011

Parkersburg Half Marathon: 25 Years

I remember when I was in junior high and I was running the one mile race in the wood county track meet, when I first started hearing about the Parkersburg Half Marathon. I had aspirations of one day running this race (in fact, it was one of my goals unrealized for 2011).  My friend Dan Van Valey and I would joke about me getting out there and running with world class athletes for about a hundred yards before I slowed to my mere mortal pace. This year was the 25th annual Parkersburg Half-Marathon, and while it is no longer the site for the US Men’s National Championship, runners still come from all over the world to compete.

Although I didn’t run the race this year (foot injury), my sister, my brother-in-law, and my wife all three did run it. For my wife it was her second half-marathon. For my sister and her husband, it was their first. Each of them finished with respectable times. Jamie ran a 2:16 (she had a knee flare up around mile 8), Ray ran a 1:55, and Becky ran an incredible 1:47, and placed second in her age group.

I was proud of all three of them for the races they ran. Jamie ran hers with very little training, but focused on following through on the commitment she made. (It would be easy to have quit or just not run, but she is not a quitter!) Ray has had surgery on both of his ankles in recent years and has lost 80 lbs over the last two years. He just turned 58, and he is probably in the best physical shape of his adult life. He is living proof that if you are disciplined about your habits, you can turn around your physical health pretty significantly. I’m super proud of he and Becky for their commitment to their health.

But the runner I was most impressed with is my sister. I can remember telling her (for years!) that if she ever got serious about running, she could be a really good runner. She would laugh at me sometimes when I said it, but I think Saturday she proved something to her self that I already knew. She has what it takes to be a great runner! She ran her race effortlessly, and had energy to spare at the end of the race. She picked up her pace during the last mile and I personally watched her pass six runners during the moments I saw her near the finish line. If ever my sister has doubts about herself, I hope she will remember Saturday and her confidence will return.

I’m super proud of all of the folks who got out there and walked, ran, and wheelchaired their way thirteen miles through the town of Parkersburg. Some were competing with other runners, but the wise ones were competing with their number one competitor—themselves. No one can push you harder than yourself, no one knows better when you are slacking than yourself. And at the end of the day, the other runners probably won’t be going home with you and talking about your performance.

Whatever race you are running today, whether it is a footrace, or a part of the ‘daily grind’ may you run in such a way to win and be the best version of yourself you can possibly be.

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