On Dec. 4, 1988, 25 years ago today, I ran my first full marathon in Dallas, Texas. It was spectacular! Early that year, I made the decision to run the Dallas White Rock Marathon. I realized this meant 9 months of tough training. I trained hard, on the roads, trails, and speed work on TCU’s track (I was a college student at Texas Christian). Routine 17 mile runs all over the Trinity River Trail in Ft. Worth. Ran 8 miles in snow & cold on Notre Dame’s track on Thanksgiving Day (my brother thought I was nuts!) because “no slacking” for your first marathon.
Why did I want to run this? There was this chip on my shoulder from my asthma diagnosis from 8 years before. Proving to myself that I could do this and help crush my condition was a big part of it. Friends & family told me I could do it that knew me well. A veteran marathoner running coach at TCU was very helpful, I took a running class from him. My Dad gave me a hard time about taking a running class. We had to log all workouts for the class and I found that made me run more. (Yes, I logged the marathon during the semester, too!). There was an intense fire in my belly to run it. I found that I couldn’t extinguish the fire/burning desire to run without attempting to run the full distance. I had raced the 5k-10k distance but nothing longer than that up to this race.
To the race report: I started out fast and I mean really fast! Lots of 5-7 minute miles. There was adrenaline jumping all over the place. The weather was absolutely perfect, starting in the 30s and finishing in the 50s. Running 10 miles around beautiful, scenic White Rock Lake for the first time was a lot of fun. I started passing people for fun, paced by a speedy runner pictured above. Then passing more people, and more people. I had a strange exhilarating feeling that I was almost flying that I had never had before while running. First half split was around 1:38-1:39, faster than expected.
The second half of the race, I had to slow down a little but not much. The fartlek routine of passing runners and them passing me back continued. Finally reaching the home stretch in downtown Dallas, I had 2 people to pass in the finish chute. I passed one of them, noticing with delight his excited, jubilant exultation-RUNNER’S HIGH- (he was having a party early!). I asked myself, will I feel this elation too? Yes, I did but not ’til the finish line. Couldn’t catch the other guy-his strides were too long and he was charging for the line, too. But I was filled with a strong sense of proud accomplishment at taking on such a strong challenge and crushing it.
How did I run this so fast? Was it the Leggoons? (Just kidding!) The warm folksy Texas hospitality? The track workouts (intervals and repeats)? The hills? The long-slow-distance runs? The veteran running coach? Strong support of friends and family? Just by loving my run? All of the above.
Having never run a marathon before, I was thrilled with my time of 3:28:46, 805th overall out of 2,283 marathoners. I was unbelievably hooked. The amazing thrill of finishing and the accompanying endorphin rush was astounding. It was a mountaintop experience, one that I will treasure forever. The “marathon bug” had bitten me. And there was no turning back. Somehow, with a lot of hard work, prayer, and God’s help, I had uncorked the best, most fulfilling run of my lifetime.
Must run more marathons, I told myself. But not for a year. 1988 was great! Thanks Big D, you’ve been good to me!