Half-way There

Remembering that I had an extra hour of sleep the night before did not serve to be the relaxing factor I needed. My nerves were trying to swallow me whole as the day approached. I monitored everything I did: how much water I drank, how much food I ate, when I ate, what I ate, how much I stretched. In a few hours, I would be running my first ever half marathon. Nike+’s Run to the Beat Half Marathon was still scheduled to commence at 9:45 a.m. whether I was ready or not. With a few winks of sleep, warm clothes, a race pack and a pit in my stomach, we set out for London’s O2 Arena in Greenwich to meet our fate. The phrase of the morning seemed to be “well, we are doing this.”

Upon our arrival, we finally were able to perceive how large this event was. Signs the size of billboards, charity tents lining the streets and the main stage were quite a sight as we approached the empty grounds. Our nervous stretching was cut short by the announcement: “Runners, please check your bags and enter the pens.” It was go time. If you haven’t guessed by now, the theme of today was not being ready. We huddled for warmth while making light conversation and static stretching in the cramped pen. If the cold winds were any indication of what was ahead of us, a challenge was surely ahead.

The gun sounded and we were off. Runners jostled and jockeyed for position as we took off down the first straight. Despite my juvenile desire to take part, my running buddies assured me that we should just run our own race. We calculated that we could run 13.1 miles in two hours if we ran 9-minute-miles. Consequently, we held strictly to this pace as the first 3 miles melted away. All we could see infront and behind us was a sea of yellow shirts bobbing up and down. Now for the hills. Hills have never treated anyone nicely, but this was the first test which threw us into the preverbal strainer. Those who had sprinted passed us at the beginning were now starting to suck wind and were falling off. Before we knew it, five miles were done. While reflecting, I cannot recall anything memorable happening until mile 8.

At this time, we had reached the National Park. I had remembered this area from my trip here in September so it was an odd, sweaty homecoming for me. The Greenwich community and fans lined the sides of our path yelling as loud as they could. We could hear the DJ booth ahead and just wanted to get closer. Abandoning all reason, I had to run faster. I felt a new life. As we turned the corner, we ran down the Prime Meridian and bounded down a large hill before we were spit back out on to the street. Here, I was met by my charity fans. Fans from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Research Group were there to cheer on their contributors at this designated spot. I couldn’t slow down. 10 miles killed.

Only a 5K separated me from a huge life accomplishment. I never thought that I would only say that I was happy to run 3.1 miles, but this was exciting. I was almost done and felt no pain. The trouble for me came out of vacancy at this point. I did not want to push too hard to quickly and then die out. I was well aware that I was pushing my pace, but I had no clue what pace I was holding. With an injury plaguing my running buddy, I was on my own for the end. How fast should I go? Should I save it? Why is there no music?! Where are the fans?!

Regardless, it was still time to push to the end. As I came down a familiar stretch of road, I started to envision the finish line and how fulfilled I would feel. Oddly enough, my legs were not on par with my brain. I wanted to sprint, but my legs would not let me. As a result, I decided to hold my pace until I could convince my legs to cooperate. As I got closer, the cheers became louder, the music became deafening and the gloom of this period was lifted. I instinctively started scanning the crowd for friendly faces. Smiles accompanied compliments as we pushed forward. Smile…smile…compliment..smile…and then, a familiar face! Some of the most genuine surprise consumed me as I saw the faces of Jason and Izze against the barracks yelling for me to push to the end. I looked up and that minuscule .1 mile separated me from finishing. Nothing mattered anymore. No pain. No worry. No reservations. With the love and support of those present with me and in spirit, I sprinted to the end with energy I didn’t know I had.

That’s it. It was over. 13.1 miles in the books. I finished in 2449th place with a time of 1:48:26 and a pace of 8:16. On Sunday morning, October 28th, 2012, I set out to challenge myself with two new friends, Zach and Karina. We were a part of a 19,000-person event that raised over 400,000 GBP for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research. The soreness is worth the memories and the experience I’ll never forget.

Cheers.

Becoming a Tough Mudder

I have described myself as “aggressively average” in many aspects of my life. In a world in which “capable” is acceptable–and impressive at that–there aren’t many times in life to test the extent of your ability. Six of us decided that the Tough Mudder was the perfect way to test our strength, agility, and mental grit.

On July 15th, we shipped out from Boston to Mt. Snow in Vermont with naive anticipation and a pack of fake mustaches. Our nervous excitement and calls of “OORAH” led us up the first black diamond ski slope with good spirits. Signs reminding us “Remember you signed a Death Waiver” seemed to have little effect on us…until we hit the first obstacle. Energy, fun, and happiness ground to a halt when we reached the Arctic Enema. A dumpster of ice-water maintained at 34 degrees awaited us just over a wooden ramp. Little did we know, a little electric surprise was lurking in the icy depths too.

SHOCK! That was the reoccurring theme of the day for us. Whether it was the shock of cold water, physical strain, or the oh-so-memorable 10,000 volts, our strength, endurance, and reserve was challenged. Titles like the Electric Eel, Arctic Enema, Dark Lightning, Mount Everest and Electro-shock Therapy were meant to intimidate, but we conquered them all with poise and composure.

My personal success in this event is of no importance without the recognition of my teammates. Our group of six split into groups of three for the race. Alex, Will and I bounded up and down the slopes of the mountain together. We helped each other scale 20-foot walls. We provided mental and emotional support for each other and that was worth its weight in gold.  Together, we completed a challenge of more than 10 miles, more than 23 obstacles, freezing water, 10,000 volts, and numerous mental tests in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

This experience was memorable in itself for the amount of trust and confidence I had to put into others. I had to trust that my teammates would look out for me and bring me up when I needed a boost. This event has brought me closer to my teammates and I consider Will and Alex to be my brothers now. When looking back on this event, I regret nothing and loved every minute of it. Will I do it again? Oh yes. You can only keep a Tough Mudder away for so long.

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One Race at a Time

Boston 2011
Waking up at 7:30 on a Sunday morning as a college student is torture–youmust have messed up big to deserve it.

That’s exactly what I thought when I poked my head outside of my room on this morning only to realize that the meteorologists didn’t lie; it was 28 degrees outside.  Who would possibly want to run today?  Although it took some initial coaxing, I begrudgingly chose to run the Winter Classic 5K in Cambridge with two close friends/bandmates.

I always hated running in high school because of the pressure associated with it–the clock documenting every second that I was behind someone else.  This fear and dissent for running melted away upon my discovery of 5Ks. With every step in my erratically paced race, I started to believe those running freaks that talked about the endorphins released from running were like no other.  Needless to say: I am hooked and ready for more.  This race has me ready for many more races whether they are 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, or the revered marathon.

With this post, I plan to run a marathon before turning 21.  Why?  Why not. It’s just another thing to check off of the list of things to do before 30.

-Drew

(PS: I am the guy with the white BU shirt in this picture)–19:29