This was a unique race experience for me. Usually I am thinking about potential PRs, race strategies, and where the race fits within my overall training schedule. When I first scheduled this race, I was thinking about that stuff. But then my friend Kipp agreed to run the race with me, and that changed the whole purpose of the race for me. In a good way!
Kipp is a fellow WISHer and ran his first Half Marathon this January. He has been on a similar journey as myself -- working to improve his fitness, live a more healthier lifestyle, and get off the couch. So crossing that Finish Line at the Disney World Half Marathon was a major milestone for him (as it was for me)! But I knew that Kipp wanted to improve. So when he signed up, he mentioned that he wanted to beat his Disney finish time -- which among other things would allow him to place higher in the corrals at Disney in 2013.
I offered to be his 'pacer' -- someone who ran along with him to help him maintain a consistent, manageable pace that would lead him to his desired Finish Time. He accepted the offer. I had never been a pacer before. I made sure to run with a pace group when I ran my 20-mile race in September so that I could see how the pacer 'worked' with us. I wanted to do right by Kipp. He wanted a new PR. And I knew that if he stayed focused on that goal, he would succeed.
The race started out well. We started at a 13:00/mm pace using a 4/1 Run-Walk method. This worked pretty well for the first 4-5 miles. Kipp had suffered an Achilles injury 5 weeks earlier and had not been able to run during that time. So by Mile 5, he was beginning to feel it. It didn't help that the temp was in the low 40s, it was windy, and that it started to rain around Mile 8, followed by sleet after Mile 10. Between the weather, fatigue, and pain in his calves and left foot, Kipp was having to slow his pace as he "dug deep" to keep moving forward.
I tried to offer encouragement (and a little Drill Sargeant mixed in) to keep him motivated and help keep his mind distracted from the physical discomfort. We stayed focused on his goal: a PR! Kipp truly 'zipped up his Man-Suit' and in the end, ran across that finish line with an 11-minute PR!!!
It was an amazing achievement! Made even more impressive given that he was under-trained and recovering from an injury. He never gave up. He got his "game face" on, and made it happen! It was an honor being a helping partner in his race. You can click HERE to read his own race report.
Other than sharing in the excitement of Kipp's PR performance, I had a few other exciting things happen to me at this race:
- I listened to Wesley Korir speak at the race Expo on Friday afternoon. He spoke about his foundation in Kenya which is helping to educate children to give them a brighter future. He was quite inspiring! I then had the opportunity to meet with him afterwards, got a photo with him, and had him autograph a tech shirt from his Foundation!
- I moved up the ranks in the Half Fanatics running club, earning my second "Moon" (2 out of 10) by completing my eighth Half Marathon this year. I was very pleased about that, mostly because of the effort to actually complete that many races in a calendar year given that my first Half was this January. And I have two more Half Marathons yet to run in 2012!
But the main thing for me this weekend was to be there as Kipp reached another milestone in his life. It was awesome to play a role in that, and to "pay it forward" -- to help my friend (like so many others have helped me during my own running journey.
Kipp, you totally earned that medal! Congratulations on winning that hard fought battle! I cannot wait to see what a trained and fully healed Kipp can achieve in January 2013 at your next Walt Disney World Half Marathon!