After months of talking, training, and preparing, yesterday was race day for me and Big Man, as well as my nephew, my brother, and good friends/neighbors M and D. With 33,000 people running in the half and full Rock n Roll marathons, we had a very early start, waking at 3am to leave at 4am to be in the parking garage by 5am. Water bottles filled, breakfast eaten, race nutrition packed, bibs and timing chips attached, we headed out the door into the darkness to make the drive downtown.
I was nervous – not so much for me as for Big Man. He’d hardly trained, his longest long run being 8 miles long, and weeks before the race. He had started coughing last week, and even with full asthma meds going, couldn’t seem to shake it. His confidence level was also pretty high, believing he would charge through this race. I wanted to be with him, but I wanted him to be able to run his own race. I was terrified he’d have an asthma attack during the race. I was nervous he’d forget his hydration and nutrition plan for the race. I was worried he’d hit that wall every runner seems to hit at some point or another, and I wouldn’t be with him to keep him going. I did know that despite my worries, I needed to let him to, let him earn this on his own, allow him the independence he deserves.
We arrived at the start area with plenty of time to stand in line for the porta potties (worst part of running races), then we headed to our start corral. I gave him some last-minute suggestions, went over the race plan again. Before we knew it, our corral was at the start, and it was our turn to take to the course. My nephew has experience with half marathons. He was going to stay with Big Man. I watched them ahead of me for the first mile or so, then lost sight of them as their pace took them further and further from us. I had signed up for text updates on him and my brother, so I knew when he crossed the 5K, 10K, halfway point, and finish. I did check each medical tent we passed, praying I wouldn’t see him in any of them. At some point, I knew it would be what it would be, and just began to enjoy my own race.
I have to say, I love the Rock n Roll series. The course support is awesome, and there are cheering spectators almost the entire route. We saw so many people with funny signs, waving and clapping for all the runners. I think one of my favorite signs said “The faster you run, the sooner we drink!” and “Go Random Stranger!” There was also the, “You thought they said ‘rum’ didn’t you?” We had running Elvis’, at least three fireman in full gear, and a mile dedicated to remembering those military members we’ve lost. There were dogs with their owners all along the route as well.
We were just past mile 11 when my FitBit buzzed with a text – Big Man had crossed the finish line in under two hours. I relaxed and finished my own race, setting a PR at 2:08:49.
I am so proud of my son. Not many 15 year olds run half marathons. Not many 15 year olds run half marathons in under two hours. Not many 15 year olds will come in 2890 overall. Not many 15 year olds who were born at 26 weeks run. This boy has battled and overcome scarred lungs and prematurity-related asthma to become a runner. There was a time we didn’t know he would ever run. So, take that, prematurity. This young man isn’t going to let his too-soon start hold him back.