Archive for July 1, 2010

Sometimes something comes along in life that is just too good an opportunity to pass up.

I got a great piece of advice from my friend Andy that I should run a 10K or two as I prepare for the IBM Classic in October chasing my goal of posting a sub-40:00 minute 10K time. 

I completely agree as for me, no matter how hard I push myself when I am training, I cannot duplicate the race-day experience.  There is something different about pinning on that bib number and toeing the line at a race.

Start of Holland, TX 5K - Joe front/right

Whether it is the Boston Marathon or a small local race there is anxiety, pressure, confidence and doubt all fighting for attention inside of me.  I have butterflies in my stomach as I stand with the other runners around me.  even my legs “feel” different. 

When the pistol fires those endorphins kick into high-gear and it becomes hard to stay “under control”, whether that means a solid 7:20 pace over the first mile of a marathon or a 6:05 over the first mile of a 5K. 

But the more I race, the more I find myself calming down both before the start and over the first strides onto the course.  I have been able to find my rhythm much more quickly this year which is huge for me.

Because a relaxed runner is a smooth runner.  A smooth runner is a fast runner.  A fast runner is who I aspire to be.

So with 7 races in the books in the first 6 months of 2010, I have already raced more this year than all the other years combined since I started running in 2005.

Running like most things in life is about repetition.  The more you do something the better you get at it.  I know that if I am going to hit that 39:59 in October, I am going to need a few 10K’s under my belt to know just what I am up against.

That being said, finding a 10K or two has proven to be challenging as this time of year in TX most local races are of the 5K variety.

But low and behold I found a 10K race to run on July 15th – and not just any 10K race.  One of the coolest races I have heard about in quite some time.

The Honor our Heroes Shadow 10K race will be held at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 15th at the local track/football stadium about 2.5 miles from my house.  You have to love the location from a convenience standpoint, but why race at 9:30 p.m.?

Well at the same time we are racing in Austin over 500 soldiers from Ft. Hood who are stationed at Camp Victory, Iraq will be running a 10K of their own sponsored by Operation Honor Our Heroes at the same time.

In what will be a true “simulcast race” communities from the Greater Austin area as well as Ft. Hood & III Corps will be gathering to show support and appreciation for those soldiers from the Central Texas area stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan right now as well as the rest of our Armed Forces. 

The local race organizers will be broadcasting the race in Iraq live on the Jumbo Tron at the Round Rock Athletic Complex for everyone to see.  So what for me will be a start time of 2130 hours (9:30 p.m.), will coincide with the 0530 start time (5:30 a.m.) Friday morning in Iraq.

The formation of Honor our Heroes was inspired by MSG Robert M. Horrigan who was killed in action in Al Qaim, Iraq on June 17, 2005 while serving his fifth and final tour.  Robert volunteered for this final assignment even though he had already started the retirement process. 

He went to bring life and liberty to those who hadn’t had it in decades and to protect the shores and freedoms of America.  It is in this spirit – of selfless devotion — and in celebration of his life and the lives of all fallen heroes that Operation Honor Our Heroes, a non-profit organization came to be. 

The organization’s goal is to meet the unmet needs of wounded veterans and their families.  Through their efforts to assist wounded heroes, they strive to honor the sacrifice made by our fallen soldiers.  In the words of the organization – they will never be forgotten.

Camp Victory, Iraq

There are a lot of great reasons to run, over the past year I am proud to say that I played a small part in making a big difference for our good friend Dom and his family.  The last year has changed me as a runner and as a person in more ways than I know how to count.  If I can find a way to combine my passion for running with a passion for helping others – then regardless of what a stop watch might say – I know that I have won before I step foot on the course.

When I heard about this shadow run in honor of our troops, it felt like something I just had to do.

I’m not quite sure right now what kind of performance I can expect from myself.  Talk about being out of your element.  I will be racing on a track, racing at night and covering a distance I have never raced before. 

Those are a “whole mess of” variables to deal with all at one time.

I do know one thing however, and that is that being able to watch on the big screen as thousands of miles away American Soldiers run stride for stride with us back here in Austin, I will never be more proud to take part in an event.

40:00 minutes?  Not a chance.  But I do think this is the first step in that direction – and you know what they say:

“a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

I can hardly wait to start.