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by Padraic Gilligan, Managing Director, Ovation Global DMC

I’m 51 and I’ve never done it.

There. I’ve said it.

I talked to Dan Young and I know he’s done it. A good few times, it seems.

So has Darlene Catan but not, I think, with Dan Young.

And I’m unclear as to whether either of them actually went all the way. Although I think Dan has.

There were about 25 FICPers at the dinner last night – which I only got the end of – and most of them had done it before. Or, at least, they had that confident, “been there, seen that” look about them.

But even though I’ve never done it I have a sense of what’s involved. I’ve seen it done loads of times in movies and on TV. I’ve even seen it live twice and watched from a distance as folks grunted and grinded, sweat pouring off them.

But that’s all changed now.

At around 8:30 this morning, following an indeterminable and anxious wait, during which I was crammed into Corral #30, I finally passed under the Start Line of my first ½ Marathon.

It may have appeared imprudent to organise the FICP Annual Conference during dates when San Antonio had other, bigger things on its mind – like 30,000 Marathon participants. However, having witnessed the seamless execution of complex logistics by the Marathon organisers and the equally smooth and professional handling of airport arrivals by Capers DMC and host hotel, Grand Hyatt, it ended up being a positive opportunity for FICP participants to show off their moves in spandex and lycra and for me to do something I’d never done before.

So how did it go?

Well Dan and Darlene, Lindsay and Marla, Marian and the many other Marathon aficionados presumably completed the course in record time. I, on the other hand, completed it. Period. I undertook no pre-event training and don’t, basically, run. However, I do walk and, when I walk, I go at quite a clip. Ask Darlene. I ran her ragged once through forests and fields in Ireland and I kept one foot firmly on the ground at all times.

It made sense to me to try to start and end with a decent paced jog. My target was to jog the first mile and then walk at my usual pace, ensuring that no other walker passed me – I’m viciously competitive. This plan fell apart and I ended up nearly killing myself at the start jogging the longest mile known to man – 2 miles! Either there was no 1 mile marker or, in my focused determination, I missed it!

Following that I settled into a good paced walk and took note of who was around me. I’ve used Samuel Johnson’s famous comment on Shakespeare in other blog posting but nowhere was it as apt as here. Truly, “all human life was here”. It was extraordinary to witness the breath-taking variety and diversity of the human species. All shapes and sizes, all colours and creeds pushing their bodies forward. Everyone with his or her own individually unique way of walking, jogging or running. These may not look like or be “elite athletes” but to me they are the true heroes of the event and the reason why such events are so humanly powerful.

There were many poignant moments as I clocked up the miles. Folks undertook the event in memory of or in honour of a loved one and named their loved one on their tee shirt. One young soldier in full military footwear and fatigues carried his entire pack over the course in touching memory of a fallen friend.

The San Antonio Marathon is part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series. This was in evidence throughout the course with really excellent  live bands belting out Rock standards like “Taking Care of Business”, “Play that Funky Music” and lots of very groovy R&B  I’d love to have lingered more to listen but other walkers were gaining on me! Headlining the after race party was Vince Neil, late of Motley Crue. Despite the daylight hours when Vince, an obvious creature of the night, is usually curled up in his dark cave, this was a full-on, no holding back performance!

At 9 miles I lost some ground when the call of nature got so loud it was ringing in my ears as well as in other nether areas. I got in line for the Portaloos (is that what you call them in the US?) and had difficulty with my compression shorts, not quite getting everything back into the same comfortable position as before. Consequently I completed the last 4 miles in considerable discomfort although, by now, my determination to complete the course without any other walker overtaking me had become a fixed obsession.

At 11 miles I caught up with the two very fit and pleasantly profiled ladies who walked and bit / ran a bit and I passed them with a flourish. At 12 miles I started a slow jog which I maintained right over the line. I proudly accepted a very nice and very heavy medal and and waited in line to get my picture taken. There I had a lovely conversation with a 60 year old woman (she volunteered this information!) who set out to prove to herself and her family that, at 60, she could complete a half marathon. She worked through 5k and 10k events and today reached her target. Her son ran the course with her and they had their picture taken together. These are the special moments that make these events so unique and wonderful and this is why I’ll definitely to back to do it all again.

But now back to FICP which kicks off very shortly with First Timer Orientation.


3 thoughts on “FICP in San Antonio – Arrival Day

  1. Mimi Almeida says:

    Padraic – I have also walked in Ireland with you and can confirm that you do indeed walk at a brisk clip! Congratulations on completing the half marathon – I on the other hand have a doctor’s note that says I never have to run in a marathon (unless I want to!)

  2. Congratulations Padaraic, Darlene, Marian, Dan, Marla, Lindsey and all other FICP participants that took part in the “Rock N Roll” marathon in San Antonio!

  3. Congratulations Padraic – well done!
    Both the fact that you finished the half-marathon and the way you retold the story! (Then again – you’re Irish so the story-telling must be in your blood.)
    My Twitter name is “runido” – which kind of gives it away – I love running and I have also just picked up ocean-kayaking which I can highly recommend.
    Another passion of mine is meetings and anything that makes it easier, more effective and efficient for everyone involved with meetings so I look forward to staying in touch and to hear more of your stories.
    Kind regards, Thomas

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