Whether you started running in high school or in your 30s, or 40s, or 50s, most of us can remember the "oh my, this is so hard" feeling that often accompanies a newbie runner on their first few miles. We've heard a lot of first race stories before, but this one is pretty darn good. Learn more about RADrabbit Craig Halverson's first race and how he got into running in his own words:
My running journey began in June of 2013. I had seen a Facebook post from an old high school friend about him running a 10k. It looked so fun, and I am highly competitive, so I immediately thought that running was something I could do and hopefully do it better.
I decided to jump in head first and just register for the first 10k I could find, and that happened to be the Hits Omaha Marathon 10k, in Omaha Nebraska.
I immediately started to train. I knew I had three months and figured it was plenty of time. I had never been a runner and I was already well into my thirties. I have always been active and lifted weights but I hadn’t run more than a mile since high school (over a decade ago).
My first attempt at a 10k was on my treadmill and it took me roughly 78 minutes to finish it. I couldn’t believe how hard it was. My lungs just burned the entire time and my legs were sore for days. I knew if I wanted to do a good job I would have to keep pushing through the pain and keep running day after day to get better. I eventually ventured outside and in July my time was down to 59 minutes. I was so ecstatic that I was improving and all the pain and hard work was paying off.
I continued to train and practice as much as I could all through July and August. When September rolled around I had worked myself down to a 56 minute 10k. I felt like I was ready.
On race day, I was so nervous. I wanted to run fast and strong and prove to my family that I could do this. Toeing the start line I was so nervous. There were over a thousand people all jam packed in the start corral and I was trying so hard to listen to the race instructions but I just figured I would try to stay with other runners and then push to the finish.
The start gun shot and I blasted out of that corral like it was my job. I was running like the wind. I couldn’t believe how energized and alive I felt. Feet pounding the pavement, and just the sounds of other runners engulfed me. I wasn’t trying to keep track of the time since it was my first race, but I really started to feel like I was running forever. I tried to ask another runner where the turnaround was, and he asked me which distance I was running. I told him the 10k and he kind of chuckled and told me that we passed that a long time ago! What?? Next thing I know I see the turnaround sign for the half marathon.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had to swallow my pride and dig my phone out of my armband to call my wife and tell her I messed up. I was apparently running my first half marathon!
I still don’t really know where I found all the grit and determination, let alone strength and energy to finish that race, but I did it. I finished in 1:50:14. I was so disappointed. It took my wife a few days to convince me that my time was actually competitive with the other runners. Runners who had trained and planned on running a half marathon.
Every time I start a race, I always think about my first. I remind myself that no matter what obstacles or detours stand in my way that I can still do this. I can finish and I can finish fast.
The Hits Omaha Marathon is one that I run every year now. In 2016, I signed up for the half marathon, 10k, and 5k. I ran them all (and even managed to turn around when I was supposed to). Not only did I run and finish them all back to back, but I won an award in all three distances. I think my story is one that proves it doesn’t matter where you start or what happens along the way as long as you believe in your journey and your ability to finish.
- Craig Halverson, RADrabbit