This Guest Post is by my youngest brother, Jason Ordway! You can learn more about Jason at the end of this post.
Here’s my review of the US Half Marathon Championships that took place last weekend in Duluth, Minnesota.
First off, let me say I never believed that my legs would be able to take me to so many amazing and interesting places. In high school, I was always in the top 10 at State every year in track and cross country in the small school division in Ohio, yet I didn’t believe I was even good enough to run in college. Flash forward a couple years and I’m getting comped entries into races, free hotel rooms to myself, and $400 towards travel and food for a US Championship race! I often ask myself, “How did I get here!?”
The race was held within the Grandma’s Marathon and Half Marathon. The course was slightly rolling and ran right along beautiful Lake Superior. 57 and clear skies overhead as we had our 6:15am start time! The earliest race start of my life! I had to get up at 4:00am to be bused over to the half marathon start line. I was on a bus with the likes of some of the best runners in the US. Like a boss!
We arrived a few blocks away from the starting line to our own private tent with chairs, water, and such and 6 portable bathrooms all to ourselves. Gotta love those perks! As we toed the starting line I notice I was directly in the middle. Front and center. RIGHT beside Abdi Abdirahman (the eventual winner). No big deal! We made small talk before the gun went off and he slapped my hand. Down the way was Ian Burrell, Josh Hartmann, Patrick Rizzo, and all sorts of people I’d seen in magazines or high up in the results at big time races. Kara Goucher (the women’s winner) had passed me on the bike path behind our hotel the day before so the races were all stacked with big names.
The race went about as well as I could have hoped. For the first time in my running career, I actually caught a second wind at mile 8 and was able to change gears. I caught about 8 people from that point on and ended up at a comfortable 21st place with a 1:05:29, 24 seconds off my PR. 21st in the nation has a good ring to it! Plus, the $500 bonus I got for running under 1:06:00 was a refreshing surprise! Almost directly after I finished, 2 fighter jets had a fly-by that gave me goosebumps and short term hearing loss! Worth it!
I know I can’t exactly go to races like this and expect to win, but I can get an amazing experience out it. I got to hang out with some of the biggest names in our sport and get treated like one, a feeling that I feel I didn’t deserve. It’s kind of like playing dress up, except people are actually waiting on you hand and foot and giving you free stuff!! Oh yeah, the night after the race there was an awards ceremony and elites-only party where I drank free champagne and other drinks with some Ohio people and Abdi in a train car built in 1916 in a museum. That was a sweet way to cap off the night! All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to go back and do the full marathon. Who knows where these legs will take me next!?
Jason Ordway is my youngest brother, and a local elite! He has been tearing up the racing scene since he was about 8 years old running in the Junior Olympics. After a successful high school career, Jason attended college and ran at Southern Illinois (with my former Ohio State coach, Matt Sparks)! Jason took to the roads and within months of graduating he ran (and won!) his first marathon where he qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon (Columbus Marathon in 2010, 2:18:08)! He has since run a 1:05:05 half marathon in Columbus 2011, and ran in the Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston this past January. Jason races every chance he gets and makes some cash along the way. He’s also a Saucony Hurricane Team Captain. Jason says, “I run to push myself and see just how fast I can get. I know I don’t have near as much talent as Ryan Hall or Dathan Ritzenhein, but I strive to maximize my own potential.”