Silver Comet Half Marathon

by Adam Pruett
(Atlanta, GA)

What an incredible day! It’s going to be very hard for me to put into words what this was like but I’ll try.

This was not only my first half marathon but my first race! Yeah, I did the Nike Women’s Half 1 week before, but this was the first time that I have been at an event. Even though I had run this distance before on a treadmill, I had never even come close to it outdoors. See, I sweat a lot and like the controlled environment of a gym and treadmill--cool temperature, plenty of water, towel, don’t have to hold anything...

But, today all that changed! I could hardly sleep last night. My mom and brother came into town to cheer me on, so we went out for a rather carb rich decadent meal. They kept pumping me up by telling me how everyone at home would be cheering for me.

I awoke at 4:30 to give myself ample time to get my bib and be mentally ready for the race. I had a clif bar and accelerade for breakfast (in spite my mother’s constant yammering that I needed to eat a banana to avoid cramps:)) We left around 5:30. The first thing I noticed when stepping out of the apartment was how cold it was! Knowing how much I was going to sweat, I intended on wearing very little clothing. I was a bit worried that I was going to be freezing my tail off.

We arrived around 6 or so and I quickly registered and got my bib. I have to say, I kept looking at it over and over again. I kept thinking back to 8th grade PE when I could barely walk a 15 minute mile, having my coach yell, "Lardo, hurry up." I couldn’t believe I was really doing this!

Having dealt with the anxiety of finding a park and registering, I realized I had around an hour and a half to get nervous about the race. Like my mother and brother, I tried to sleep in the car, but I kept thinking of reasons I was going to fail--like needing to make a pit stop 20 minutes before the race started. Apparently, a thousand or so other people did as well; I made it to the starting line with only about 5 minutes to spare.

I’m sure I looked like a Grade A dork with all that I was carrying. I had my Camelbak filled with accelerade so I wouldn’t have to make water stops; a towel hanging from my bag to wipe copious amounts of sweat; and my iPod. If I heard laughter behind me, I assumed that it was geared toward me and pointing out that I was a first-timer :) Oh well, I knew what I needed and didn’t care how stupid I looked.

At 7:45 the gun went off! 1500 people began cheering and took off. Luckily, the sun was out with very few clouds in the sky and the day had warmed up nicely. The first 1.5 miles were on the highway and then dumped into the trail. At first, it seemed like so many people, but after about 20 minutes people began finding their place. The trail was so beautiful and peaceful, even with so many runners--a narrow 2 lane paved stretch that was tree covered most of the time. Plus, the course was really flat, so it was a lot like being on the treadmill. I was having such an awesome time and when time was announced at the 4 mile marker, I knew I was going to complete my goals, to finish and to finish under 2 hours. I kept checking my iPod and couldn’t believe I was running faster than my gym runs!

After about 6 miles into the trail, you turn around and come back to finish at the same trail head. Even though I knew I was making a great personal time, I was convinced that I was like the last person running. I gained a great deal of confidence at the turnaround when I saw that I was somewhere around the middle of the pack. Consequently, I had a great boost from miles 7-9. But, I hit a wall from miles 9-11. I was aching all over and began downing my accelerade. Normally, this is when I begin eating Clif Bloks to replenish my electrolytes, but in the early morning pit stop confusion, I left them in the car!! I started to doubt that I would finish without stopping, but like everyone around me, I kept pressing on. Then, it was amazing at mile 11; the end seemed near and I never looked back. I kept visualizing my family and friends waiting for me at the finish line. Then it finally happened, I reached the finish chute at 1:56.28. I beat my best treadmill time by almost 4 minutes!

I still can’t put into words what it was like finishing and seeing the look on my family members’ faces. Granted I was disgusting beyond words, but my mother still gave me a big hug. I quickly went to get my grab my t-shirt and picked up one of the last remaining red ones available. While waiting to get food and for a massage, I talked with a lot of other runners and really enjoyed hearing their stories.

I have to admit I was on cloud nine when they referred to me as “an elite red shirt person.” I knew I was nowhere near, but I did like the attention, especially since it was my first race :)

I knew this experience would make or break me as far as competitive running. I have gotta say, I’m still glowing from the experience earlier today and will be signing up for a great deal more.

Please, feel free to comment.

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