And THIS...is how it all started...
I found this email I sent back in October 2009, two years ago, after I ran my very first race, the South Mountain 20K. A 12 mile road run at the base of South Mountain in Phoenix.
From: Jeremy Dougherty
Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 5:08 PM
Subject: South Mountain 20K
Funny story for you…
I ran the South Mountain 20k this past Sunday. It was my first race of any real kind in years. I did a Splash N’ Dash last fall where I nearly drowed on the 1,000 meter swim but other than that no races since the 2 milers in the PT tests. So heading out into this race was a bit of a new thing for me. About 150 people ran the 20K heading down the mountain and then to the 6.2 mile marker and then the turnaround back UP the mountain to the finish. About 800 feet in elevation gain overall which isn’t horrible but certainly adds to the challenge. The 90 degree heat was a little much as well and in the latter miles I found myself walking through the water areas and twice just to let my heart catch up to my breathing and stand in the shade and cool down. I seriously underestimated my bodies water needs and drank way too much prior to the race leaving myself having to urinate an entire bathtub of urine for the entire second half of the race. Having running as a virtual rookie I didn’t think it would be ok to run off and go in the desert. So I held it.
Acute renal failure came into my mind a few times as I was pushing my splits the last two miles and trying my best to keep the 60 year old men and 25 year old women from passing me in the home stretch. I stretched it out the final mile into sub seven minute miles until the .5 mile mark where I turned it up as I could see the people lining the streets cheering people on. I chugged my last bit of dehydrated energy faster and faster knowing my heart was about to explode from overheating but I kept on passing one slug after another. A 30+ year old slender woman stands before me and I target her as my next victim. Saliva foams at my mouth and I can feel my vision getting blurry as I come into the final turn before the finish. Pumping my arms high and knees to my chest I see my watch reading 4:21 min/mile. I see my girlfriend standing at the corner, fans and racers yelling, “that’s the way to finish” as I plow around the corner. I glance over at the time clock reading 1:49:09 as I cross the line.
I slow it down and come to a footstool. My vision is darted with dark spots, my body jarred with fatigue. I was unable to lift my foot to the stool for the volunteer to remove the time chip so he helped me out. Looking down at him I can’t help but laugh. “Oh, it’s you Tim! What the hell are you doing here?! That’s awesome you are here. It’s been a long time.” As I stumble to switch feet to start my walk to my girlfriend. I look back as I walk away and tell them man, “Hey, I’ll come talk to you later Tim, we’ll catch up real fast.” I go over to Jen, rip my shirt off and stumble to my right, then my left as I struggle to maintain my balance. My body is off kilter and I can’t figure out why. My heart is still racing and I know I need some food and rumble my way to the fruit stand and bite into the greatest apple in the history of existence. Minutes later of knawing on the apple until I’m chewing on it’s seeds I regain my equilibrium, my body cools off and my mind clears. I walk back over to see my standing and talk to Tim. Tim my buddy from the Army who so randomly happens to be volunteering at the first race of mine in forever. Walking over to Tim I come to the stark realization that the man that cut my time chip was not Tim. He was not Tim at all. He was some random guy I’ve never met. Awkward silence commences as I realize I was briefly delirious from the final kick into the finish. “Tim” being the good volunteer and running veteran laughs it off and I walk away with a good amount of embarrassment still flushed within my face.
Walking to the finished results I find that I finished at 52nd overall out of 154. Not good by any means and worse yet when the winner was 27 minutes ahead of me and 22 years older than me. Still an event that went from absolutely miserable to “I love running” to mistaking strangers for friends. I can’t wait for the next one.