I ran with Harold Allen (and survived)

Published 4:57 pm Friday, May 18, 2018

In case you weren’t aware, Bainbridge runner Harold Allen is running a marathon a day to raise money for mental health awareness and treatment.

People train for months, slowly building up the stamina and preparing their body to run a marathon. If they like it, they might do another one later that year. That’s as far as anyone I know personally has taken running in races.

So when Harold told me he’d be running one of these things per day, every day in May, all to raise money to donate to charities, I was baffled.

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Let me tell you, though, he has not missed a day so far. I’ve seen his data logs. He puts in 26.2 miles every single day, sometimes early in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes late at night. That’s insanely impressive.

I’ve known Harold for a couple years now. I like to feature him every time he completes a 100-mile race, get his photo with his race T-shirt, medal and his signature “Buckle Up” headband. His marathon-a-day idea even inspired me to start running a couple months ago. I’ve been logging in about 18 miles a week, nothing compared to what Harold is putting in, but I’m getting faster (and leaner).

Thursday I decided to take the plunge and do a run with Harold. No, I wasn’t buckling up for a 26-miles excursion, but I’d try to get in at least a few miles before I ran out of gas.

I arrived at his house about 3:30 p.m., and not long after that our feet were hitting the pavement. I kept up with Harold’s pace for about half a mile, but it became quickly apparent that he was going to leave me in the dust if I didn’t kick it up a notch.

So I did. The gas tank was already on E by the two-mile mark.

Harold’s pace was incredibly fast, even for marathon standards. Back in my high school days, I could maybe run a 5K that quickly on a good day with plenty of rest and a hearty carb-cycle kicking in. That was 10 years ago, though. I watched as Harold took a good 30-yard lead on me, realize I was sucking wind, then slow down and let me catch up, encouraging and pepping me up the whole way. Toward the last half-mile or so, I was seeing spots.

“You’re ready for this to be over with, aren’t you?” laughed Harold. He wasn’t even breathing heavy.

I could only give an affirmative grunt.

Finally, his house became clear over the hill, and that mythical “second wind” you hear so many runners talk about swept over me. I pushed it, quickening my pace and forcing myself to ignore the burn.

Finally, we crossed the finish line. Right at 3.5 miles, 27 minutes. That high school version of me I mentioned earlier would be disgusted. Current me, however, was delighted. Running that far, at that pace, was encouraging. Nowhere near where I hope to be, but still a big milestone as I reacquaint myself with this brutal yet relaxing hobby. I thank Harold Allen for his patience with me, and I look forward to doing another run with him soon, hopefully longer.