Start of 2013 'First Half'

What is a ‘motivated post’?

Actually, I wasn’t going to say anything about the First Half because sometimes I feel I may just write too much about events in which I am directly involved. This was another great First Half and I thought maybe I would just let it stand on its own. Then I started reading other blog posts and FaceBook posts and Tweets from people who did this race and that was where the ‘Motivation‘ came upon me.

I’ve always known the “First Half” has a great reputation in the running community and have in my time been pleased to have been a part of the club and team that brings the race to life each year (well, except 2010 when we wound up head to head with that other athletic event going on in Vancouver in mid-February – but Hey, the First Half is still here and that other event has turned out to be a ‘one-hit’ wonder, at least in Vancouver). To just stop for a serious moment on the 2010 situation with the Winter Olympics in town, we were concerned about what would happen in 2011, after having to skip a year. As many know, I was race director of the First Half for four years (if you count 2010) and while it would never be obvious, I think that as RD, I worked harder NOT putting on that race than I had for the three previous versions that did go as planned. We had nothing to worry about for 2011. The running community was back in force and here we are in 2013 with another great race nicely tucked into the books. And, speaking of ‘books’, Variety – the Children’s Charity has tucked another $50,000 into their books, bringing the total First Half donations to $550,000 since the race started supporting Variety. There are a number of reasons why this is possible, but prime among them is that this is a 100% volunteer operation with the main organization provided by Pacific Road Runners (under the leadership of RD, Nicki Decloux and a very experienced and dedicated main race committee), and the rest by a group of long-term friends who come back year after year to support the race. The other two major components are the super generous sponsors and the faithful and enthusiastic runners who (virtually) line up every year to register for the race way back in November.

Anyway, much of that has been said before, including by me, and while ever so true and important, was not my reason for writing.

I started reading the various messages and blogs about the individual races of specific people. As organizers, it is easy to think of any race as some consolidated thing called THE EVENT. However, from the perspective of the runners there were 1919 ‘First Halfs’ run out there on February 10th. 1919 was the official finisher count according to the results page. As I read the various accounts it became clear in a kind of new way, just how personal the race is. Not just this race, either. And, I mean, I should know this very well because when I am not being the MC for the First Half (my new post race director retirement job on the race team), I myself am a runner and boy do I know the inside perspective of running as an individual competitor. It was a suprise to me nonetheless just how striking the impression was of the individual efforts put in by individual runners when expressed at some length in their own words.

I was going to post links to the specific comments I have seen, but then realized that wouldn’t do much justice to the others out there I missed. Actually, much of what I saw came off the First Half Facebook page, so here is the link to that page, where not only the specific comments I have seen can be found, but likely ones that are still to come as I write this.

The First Half is a very strange race. It is a relatively long race for so early in the season and it is run in February when a good day is still pretty cool. All that said, the First Half produces more than its fair share of PB performances. I guess it is pretty easy to have a PB if it is the first time you have run a given distance. Lord knows, it is the only way I get a PB these days! But, a lot of seasoned runners (both in the meaning of this blog and in terms of just being experienced) report PB’s from the First Half.  This year was certainly no different, and if anything there may have been more than usual. Maybe it is the spectacular route. Keeps everyone totally distracted from what they are doing. Maybe it is the fact that, as several bloggers commented, it is a runnerly race, so maybe people just get pulled along by the subtle competition going on right from the front, all the way to the back. It really is a great running course, being mostly flat. That could help.

It was so much fun up on the stage with co-host Anjulie Latta, watching people return and seeing how ‘up’ they were after their races. I was doing a little walk-about just before we got really going with post-race business and ran into three different people I knew who had just scored a PB. They were all pretty pleased, to say the least.

Guess I shouldn’t be so homed in on the PB performances. One of the bloggers mentioned something we said from the stage about ‘everybody who is out here running is a winner’. That is true. As mentioned early on, every runner is having his or her own very personal race experience. One of the bloggers I read, and who inspired me to go ahead with this post, did not have a PB. That said, it may have been an even better/stronger performance than some of the PB’s because she was working back from serious injury – the can’t run for six months kind of injury. One of my favorite members of the running community did not have a PB, yet set a single age world record. Yes, of course, BJ McHugh. Her time of 2:32 was pretty sparkling for someone who is truly a ‘seasoned athlete’. For those that don’t know, BJ is 85 years old.

I want to keep this short, so will not go on and on about all the individuals that I know had great races. It is only fitting because this post is a celebration and recognition of all those who got out there and did their best. And, because of the things I read in those other postings in this social media world, not just in this one race, the First Half, but in all the races we put ourselves on the line for, with the intention of giving it everything we’ve got. When you toe the line with that in mind, the absolute finish time doesn’t matter. It is truly the ‘doing’ that is remarkable. 

Congratulations to all, and thanks to all you who inspired me to think about this and write this particular posting.

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