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Shakespeare...and Windermere Half Marathon

It wasn’t until I found myself shivering inside a men’s communal urinal that I began to question the sanity of this sport called triathlon. In fact, it’s no longer satisfactory to race a half marathon in the morning and call your training day complete. I looked over at my friend, Brenna McMahon, and asked if, after contemplating how 6 guys could coordinate mass urination in a sealed-off tent, and after running 13.1 miles at this year’s Windermere half marathon, she would like to join me later for a swim in Bear Lake. She politely declined.

I peaked out from behind the “curtain” that sealed off the entrance to this yurt-type urinal and observed how the congregation of half marathoners dropped off by school buses at Maribou Park had grown since I first sought shelter. Only a few minutes later, a surprised gentleman entered our hut and kicked us out, only to offer that if we’d like to use it, we were more than welcome to stay. No thank you.

We made our way to the start line with about 15 minutes left to go. Jarod Crooks met me and we headed off for a quick warm up run before Mark Hodgson announced it was time to get set. At about this time, the clouds that had threatened to keep the sun from warming our bodies suddenly broke. With that, we crossed the Milliseconds timing mat and our race times had begun.

Jarod, Jeff, and I making our way toward Centennial Trail. Natalie and
Nate are just behind us. Jeff ended up running himself to a 3rd place
Age group win!
Jarod, Jeff Wilcox, Natalie Gallagher, Nate Duncan, and me all started out together and made quite an impressionable wall of Trifusion before stepping into our own paces as we rounded the turn onto the Centennial Trail. I looked down at my Timex and made sure my average pace of 7:30 never waivered far from that mark. For me, this race would not be a typical, physical challenge often created by a longer running event. Instead, it served as a race in preparation for a much bigger goal. Keeping 7:30s in an effort to maintain my half Ironman goal pace proved to be a much greater mental challenge than a physical one. Yet I had Jarod next to me to not only keep me in line, but to keep me entertained.

We passed the marker for mile 6. I had built up enough air to breathe and talk at the same time, and I confided in him how much these events are improved when run with friends. Honestly, the more I race, the more I encounter the people. I’m cheered on from those on the sidelines, accompanied by others keeping the same pace, and inspired to support the ones I pass and those who pass me. Jarod must have agreed, as he nearly started singing the last two stanzas of St. Crispin’s Day speech by Henry V (1599), William Shakespeare. 

Picture this: Jarod and me running through mile 7, me sucking on my GU peanut butter gel, Jarod attempting to recite Shakespeare between his gasps for air:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

At some point, he'd like to taylor this speech to mirror more of what we triathletes experience in this sport. He pointed out several names and families involved in Trifusion who have impacted and inspired him most. I couldn’t help but feel the same way—in that moment, cruising through mile 9—how much the sport of triathlon has influenced me, both physically and psychologically. Physically, I’m a stronger, fitter, more balanced person. Psychologically, I’m healthier (maybe a little more crazy?) knowing I have the support of friends I probably would be more accurate in describing as family. I mean, seriously. Who knew that in one race, I’d be humbled enough to find shelter in a public urinal AND find amusement at being serenaded with Shakespeare? Though I’m still pondering what, exactly, “holding our manhoods” means, Jarod. You’ll have to explain that one to me during our next bike ride.

All kidding aside, Windermere was greatly improved by the guy running alongside me, the new people I met and paced along the way, and the familiar faces who greeted me at the finish line. There’s something so refreshing about running down the homestretch, people you don’t even know cheering you on as if you’re the first one in, and having the announcer say your name—correctly—as you cross the timing mat. (Thanks to Mark, there was no Meghan Falukenberg, Fallenburk, or Fuckenberry as I hit the stop button on my Timex.)

Compared to my performance at Snake River half, I’m happy to report this race was run not only with my legs, but with my head. I raced smarter and felt better for it in the end. I successfully held myself at 7:30 min/mile pace, finished in 1:37:34 (by no means a PR, but a smart finish nonetheless), and only let myself go in the last 5k to see what I had left in my final “kick.” My smarter performance netted me a first place age group finish and far fewer injuries compared to what I sustained after Snake River. Thank you to Moulton Law Offices for your support by helping me get to the starting line this year!


After our run, what I feared most in that urinal had finally arrived, and Jarod and I stayed just long enough to eat some post-race fuel, warm up under the sunshine, and revel in our teammates’ successes before we made the trek over to Bear Lake. We met up with Jenn and Adam Little and Bryan Rowe, donned our wetsuits for the first time of this year, and let the water seep through our zippers and down our necks to remind us just how refreshing…no, cold…it is to have lake water fill your suit (and your butt crack, as Adam put it.) Again, a cold and uncomfortable necessity of training was made better by the fact that all of us were in that lake together. And so we’ll band together—as teammates—and do it all over again...on another day.

My racing companions: Jarod, Jeff, and Brenna.


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