“Every once in a while, every runner needs to slow down to absorb the sport they love so much,
to remember why they started running in the first place.” ~ Running Boston and Beyond
102 half marathons. What, ME???!!! Hell, no. I haven’t run 102 half marathons. Not yet anyway. I ran my tenth half yesterday at the Battleship 1/2 Marathon in Wilmington that begins and ends at the USS North Carolina Battleship. I wasn’t planning to run this race, but a friend of mine, Anthony, Mr. 102-Half-Marathons himself, asked me to run with him. Yes, he’s run 102 half marathons, and if that wasn’t enough, he’s also run 31 full marathons. That’s 2,148.4 in race miles alone. And a mere drop in the bucket compared to what he’s planning to do.
I met Anthony at one of the first early morning track practices I attended with our training group, Without Limits. I overheard him talking about the Dave Matthews Band, so immediately I had to chime in. Anthony knows no strangers. I mean really, this dude knows friggin everybody. Well, except for the one person who said “Hi Anthony!” at the race yesterday and he looked at me and said, “I have NO idea who that was.” He was the first person who asked me to warm up with him at the track, and I felt like I had one friend amongst all the strangers. Thankfully I know more people now, but he has a way of bringing you in and making you feel comfortable.
I haven’t seen Anthony in a while, so when I did see him on race morning, I expected him to look like his Facebook profile picture, including the white suit.
Of course I hadn’t forgotten what he looked like, and we met up before the race. I had the chance to ask Anthony some questions about all this running he’d done, and I thought it would be a fun thing to share with y’all.
How it all started…. Looking for a way to lose weight and get his blood pressure and cholesterol under control, Anthony started running in 2006. To say that he took to it would be an understatement. He travels a lot for work and loves to travel beyond that, so running races was perfect to combine the love for running and travel. One unique thing I found when running with Anthony is that he’s not concerned with his finish times. It’s pretty hard to find that within a high-achieving training group where you always hear about the PR’s and the Ironman PR’s and the age category winners, and all the competitive this and that’s. Sometimes you feel like you HAVE to do better each time, always looking to be better and faster. Anthony simply doesn’t buy into it. What’s really refreshing is that he runs because he loves to run. I specifically asked him if he’ll ever go for times and is concerned with any of that, to which he replied, “I just run for the love of it and exercising to keep my blood pressure and stuff in check.” He also quoted Bill Bowerman after being asked why he runs so much, “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.” Boom.
The funny thing, or shall I say “new thing”, was that when we were done, I didn’t even look at the time on my Garmin. We started off at a 10:28 mm pace and ended somewhere in the “I really don’t know or care” pace. We walked, we talked, we were quiet. About a million people waved “hello” to Anthony. It was nice for me to enjoy the same race course that I ran my PR on last week, not noticing how beautiful it was while I was whizzing by. I wonder how many times I’ve done that, how many times I’ve run past the beautiful things in order to see a certain number on my watch. When we were done running, I didn’t even look past the “stop” button on my watch to see the finish time. I didn’t care.
I found that Anthony has run races in many countries, Rome being his all-time favorite. He’s run in Paris, Dublin, Costa Rica, Iceland, and all over the states, including Hawaii, with Chicago marathon being his favorite stateside race. He said he’s had a few that he wanted to quit, such as the 20 degree Myrtle Beach Half in 2007, and the hot and humid Quintiles full marathon here in Wilmington in 2012, but he’s never given up. He’s never been injured either.
We can all learn a little something from my friend, Anthony. It never hurts to enjoy racing as much as you do just running. While I’ve been off training because of that pesky injury that seems to never ever, ever want to go away, I’ve been able to concentrate on just running (although that PR last week was off the hook), cross-training, and being. There’s no pressure, it’s all good, just the way it is. Heck, I might even skip the marathon that I was going to do a month later than the Houston Marathon I was planning on running in January. Sure, I want to PR when I run Boston in 2014. I want to do the best I can, but I also realize that every once in a while, it’s good to run a race because you love running races. Slow it down once. Turn your Garmin off, run a race with your phone and take a picture here and there. Run with someone and talk. Enjoy it, absorb it. Don’t immediately go to the RESULTS area of the race finish and check your “official” time. Just run, because that’s what you love to do. I’m guessing that, no matter how competitive you may be, you’ll love it.
So what’s on the horizon for Anthony? First, there’s the Las Vegas half, then the Kiawah Island half, Ocean Isle Beach, a full over in Asia, Myrtle Beach…. well, you get the idea. Let’s say the schedule is full. I’ve heard more than one person ask him, “So what is your next goal?”. You know, we running types always seem to have to have a goal. And he’s definitely got one. He now wants to run 100 full marathons and 200 half marathons. Knowing Anthony the little bit that I do, there’s one thing for sure: He will meet his goal, this crazy 200/100 goal; he’ll set his mind to it and get it done. And he’ll have fun the entire way.