We can’t possibly overstate this: It was our great honor to host the inaugural Silo District Marathon here in Waco, Texas this past weekend. 6,000 runners and 300 volunteers from all fifty states and seven total countries joined us for a 5K, half and full marathon. Together, we were able to raise $250,000 for rare cancer research through the Brave Like Gabe Foundation. It was truly our favorite event to-date, and seeing Chip finish his very first race ever—a full marathon—was the icing on the cake. We thought you, like us, would be wondering how Chip is feeling after such an accomplishment, so we sat down with him to see how he’s recovering after crossing that finish line.
Overall, how was your first marathon?
First of all: Ouch. That really hurt. And second of all: I’m so proud of the team who put this thing together. Finishing my first marathon was a dream come true, and I’m just honored that so many runners and supporters came to Waco to be a part of this race. Together we raised $250,000 for the Brave Like Gabe Foundation and that fact alone made all of this worth it.
How did you feel when you woke up the morning of the race?
You know, I felt good. There were some nerves, sure, but I think more than anything else, I woke up ready to knock this thing off my bucket list.
Why did you have friends and family run the race with you?
There were a group of about 10 of my friends and family, including all four of my kids, who I wanted to share this experience with me, so I invited them to each run a leg of this race by my side. Each person was scheduled to run 2.6 of the 26.2 total miles, but once we got knee deep into it, they kept on running far past 2.6. Good friends of mine who trained for less than three miles were running upwards of ten. Drake, my oldest, ended up running 14 miles with me. He started running up ahead to water stations, grabbing me a cup, and then running it back to me so I wouldn’t have to stop. He was taking care of me. It was something special—a day I’ll never forget.
Why did you wear a toolbelt for the race?
I wore my toolbelt in honor of a local U.S. soldier who is currently serving overseas. He thought he’d be able to make it to Waco for the race. Unfortunately, as I can only assume must happen often, things changed and he was not able to leave and be with us for this marathon. But like any glass half full thinker, he talked his commanding officer into letting him run the race there. He chose not only to run the race, but to do it in full gear, which he explained added about 40-45 pounds. So I figured if he could run in 90 degree heat with an added 45 pounds on his back, I could at least honor him with my toolbelt. And I did.
Being on this side of the race, do you wish you’d done anything differently in your training?
Early on in training I had an ankle injury and my doctor painted a pretty clear picture of what could happen if I put too much stress on it. Basically, it all boiled down to the fact that if I trained too hard, I was going to have to sit this race out completely. That led to my longest run in training only being about 15 miles—which is a pretty far cry from 26.2. My injury was not something I could control, so I don’t necessarily have any regrets about it. But I do think adding a couple miles onto my long runs would’ve helped ease the pain there toward the end of my 26.2.
What did you do after the race?
You better believe I headed straight for the ice bath. And the first thing I wanted to eat was a chicken fried steak.
Do you have any regrets about your first race being a full marathon?
Not one regret…
Will you run another marathon?
Not a chance. I’m kidding! But only kind of. Right now I can tell you with complete confidence that I have no plans to run another 26.2. BUT that’s not to say I won’t change my mind tomorrow. I’m not gonna lie, I hate long runs, but Gabe is incredibly inspirational and she’s an amazing coach. I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but she may have even made a runner out of me. All that to say, I know I’ll be running in next year’s race, I just can’t tell you which distance yet. No matter what, we will definitely host the Silo District Marathon races here in Waco again. If you’re a runner, go ahead and pencil us in for next spring. We haven’t confirmed a date yet, but we’ll keep you posted.
When things started getting tough out on that course, what kept you moving?
My commitment to this thing kept me moving forward. At about mile 19 Gabe met me on the course and by that point, I’d started doing some walking. As soon as she ran up, she looked me dead in the face and told me, “It’s going to hurt whether you walk or whether you run—so let’s run and get it done twice as fast.” She was absolutely 100% right, and that’s what got me running again. It hurt—I might even say it was the most painful thing I’ve ever done, and I have giant blisters all over my feet and two black toenails to prove it. I’m sore in places I didn’t even know existed, but that kick in the pants from Gabe was what helped me push through. Something important I learned out on that course is that when the race starts to get tough and you feel like you’ve given everything you’ve got, there’s still even more in you.
What was it like to cross that finish line?
I crossed the finish line hand in hand with my youngest, Emmie Kay. Thinking back on it now, it felt surreal. For a couple minutes, I didn’t even realize how much my body hurt. I couldn’t believe that the culmination of so many long hours of training and soreness and hard work and failure and dedication all came down to this one singular moment. But more than anything, I was proud. Proud of myself, but really, really proud of Gabe, her foundation, and of each and every runner who made their dreams a reality by crossing the finish line that day.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to run their first marathon, or even run toward their “marathon sized” dream?
It’s important to know that you have to start small to reach your much bigger end goal—and no matter how far off that feels, you can’t let that stop you from starting. In the beginning, I knew I was capable of running 0.2 of the 26.2 total miles, so I just had to start there. Everyone is running their own race and it’s going to take real sacrifice to reach the finish line. But the good news is when you put in the work on the front end, whatever that looks like for your specific dream, and then you show up to an event like this one, regardless of the outcome—you’ve already won. If you have a marathon sized dream, it’s about time you tackle it head on. If I can basically fall flat on my face on my first training run, just 1.7 miles, four and a half months ago, and then turn around this past weekend and run 26.2, then you can too.
Typically, the harder “it” is, the more important it is. So whatever your big dream may be, go get after it. And if it is to run a literal race, then I’ll see you next year at the second annual Silo District Marathon.