About seven years ago now, in a misguided attempt to make myself exercise through the winter, I signed up for a marathon. One with 4,000 feet in evaluation to climb no less and I had never run more than 9 miles in my entire life. I figured I would have no option but to haul my skinny ass outdoors on the regular basis. Once I completed that first marathon, I fell in love with almost everything that comes along running. I am not a big fan of the pain that comes with running. It just gets in my way.
Fast-forward to this year and my body was going through major shock after competing in the Hardcore 24 in July. I did not feel well for the month of August. So I took a well-deserved break from racing. September rolls around and I am starting to feel better and I am getting the itch to get running again. The last time I ran was at the Boilermaker race since early July and I was making my long anticipated return to the running world at the Empire Race in Syracuse, New York on October 13th only a few weeks out.
So I rocked my playlist. It’s a no-brainier that great music makes exercise more fun and inspires you. “Eye of the Tiger” comes on and I think about the movie Rocky only to get more inspired and run up that hill even faster. For some reason I love me some Adele when running as well. Feel free to judge me later about Adele.
The big day was finally here. It was a bit cold at the start of the race but it turned out to be a beautiful day to be running. With the Ridge Run the following weekend, I decided to take on the 10k course and at mile one I was thinking this was a bad idea. I cramped up so bad that I wanted to crawl up on the side of the road and give up. I remember thinking to myself I still have 5.2 miles to go and I can barely run. This is not going to be good. I was determined to overcome the pain. Discomfort is part of racing so I kept running.
Bear with me here. One of my weirder methods to getting to the finish is that I always visualize a beautiful women screaming at me to keep going and NOT to give up. So at this point, I start to visualize Jessica McNamee screaming “Let’s go Stickboy you can do it. Do not give up!” Please don’t be too disappointed when there is no beautiful woman at the finish line waiting for you.
Once I get to mile three, I picked up my peace and started to smile. At the out and back I see my good friend and teammate at Stickboy Coffee Dave Elen. We give each other the thumbs up! As I come out of the parkway, I see Race Mom and I give her a wave as she is all smiles. Once I see the five mile marker I run as fast as my legs will go. I make the final turn and I see all the fans lined up screaming and cheering for all the runners coming to the finish.
I can see that finish line at this point and I am pushing myself as I hard as I can. The cow bells are ringing and the music is blasting. I cross the finish line! Thank goodness that race is over and I quickly find some bottled water and start drinking as much as I can.
I stood at the finish line waiting for my Stickboy Coffee teammates to finish the race. My teammates Dave and Heather Elen had joined me on the 10k course. Heather said she had a lot of fun and Dave went on to take third place in his age group. Congratulations to Heather and Dave!!
Meanwhile, Beast Mode Matt was running the half marathon and he locked in right from the start of the race wanting to set a good peace. Beast Mode Matt stayed focused throughout the race watching his time and he felt good both mentally and physically. He crossed the finish line clocking in his best half marathon time and taking 3rd place for his age group. Congratulations to Beast Mode Matt on taking 3rd place!!
I loved standing at the finish line with my Stickboy Coffee teammates as we waited for Bradley Cooper to magically appear so we could have a beer with him. It is sad to report that Brad never magically appeared. We cheered on those finishing the race. That’s what racing is all about. It’s the atmosphere. Everyone out there is running for their own personal reasons and the support that the running community provides is truly something amazing.
All joking aside, my piece of advice is to remember to smile! It might seem tricky when you’re tired and achy, but I honestly feel it’s easier to run when I have a smile on my face telling myself I am doing something great. Give it a try. If all else fails, at least you’ll look great in the official photos.
I ended up taking 6th place in my age group and that’s something I am proud of considering I never gave up. Celebrate your tiny victories. Every small win matters. A few weeks have passed since Empire but I am still celebrating my victory of crossing the finish line.
Thank you to all of my Stickboy Coffee Race Team Members!
Onward and upward my friends,
Thomas Hall the Stickboy behind Stickboy Coffee
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