Ah what we won’t do for love. Men have constructed monuments to show their undying devotion to the queen of their heart. Wars have been launched to fight for the beauty at the center of the strife. Thrones have been forsaken in order to be with the one that was not of royal blood. I am sure you all have been at the place in your life where you could relate to the pure amore that was strong enough to build the Taj Mahal, launch a war in the name of Aphrodite or give up the Royal Crown. Yes what love can do, and what we won’t do for just a slice of it. So as a runner at heart, I at the age of 36, was re-introduced to the love of my life, and it took the most serendipitous of events to bring me back to this love affair.
Last Saturday was the Hollywood Half Marathon. Vitalyte was the official on-course beverage of this inaugural event. I was scheduled to race the 13.1 miles and it was going to be my official “comeback race” after having a seven year hiatus from competing. I hadn’t been feeling very well the two weeks leading up to the event. I was really troubled by a neck injury I had incurred in a car accident a while back. Still undecided the day before the race, I was working at the expo and happened to meet Sean Astin. He was trying to find the packet pick up so he could get his bib number. I pointed him in the right direction and we started talking running. Turns out he is a huge running fan and has multiple marathons to his credit. We immediately became buds and I offered to pace him through the race. He accepted. So at the crack of dawn, the next morning, I met Sean at the starting line for the 6 am start. We had our game plan, and as his “coach,” it was my job to make sure he made it to the finish line despite a recent achilles injury. I charted out our plan and told him he had to stick to the pace I set. So as we headed out of Universal Studios City Walk and onto the streets of Hollywood, “Rudy” himself was skeptical of the easy pace I was setting. “It’s ok Sean. Running a race is like money in the bank. Every mile upfront that you go out steady, buy not too hard, pays you interest that you get to spend towards the end.” He loved the analogy and took my advice. As we ran down Sunset Boulevard, I told Sean that this was the most fun I had ever had in a race. We were snapping photos of us eating our Chia Surge Endurance Gel, waving at people in the crowd who were shouting “Rudy,” and singing happy birthday to the people like Loraine who were running in the race and had a neon green printed sign pinned to the back of her running singlet that said “It’s My Birthday.” I had never had this perspective of a race before. The middle of the pack. The place where the runner’s high never dies.
As Sean and I made the turn up the big hill right off Highland Avenue and downed one more cup of Vitalyte, he made a quick surge and said to me “I’m putting on my headphones for this one.” At that point we had two miles to go and I knew he was home free. My brave student had headed my advice and now it was time to enjoy the homestretch. I learned just as much from running with Sean as he learned running from me. I learned about his “Run 3rd” organization. He runs first for himself, second for his wife and children and third for you or whoever needs a little inspirational support. You simply tweet a dedication to hash tag #run3rd. What a cool concept. I learned that the race is not always about the “race.” And I definitely learned that Goonies Never Say Die.
We ran a great race and Sean ran exactly the time he was hoping for. As we walked back to the awards area he turned to me and said, “I could definitely go for a chocolate crepe. What are the odds of getting one of those?” Well I am not only a great coach, but a really good observer and I noticed that there was a crepe place in the Universal City Walk. So as Evan, our CEO, Sean and myself sat and ate our post race crepes (only after we drank our Complete Recovery), I confessed to them that this was the best “race” I ever ran. They seemed surprised and wanted to know why. “Because,” I said, “we all ran for the love of the sport and I had an amazing slice of it.”