The Marathon Decision
Last year I ran my sixth half marathon with my best friend and out of state running partner, Patti. When I ran my first half marathon back in 2013 I had no idea what kind of time would be an appropriate goal. I decided I just wanted to finish as that is the common advice for new runners. I finished in 02:42:21 about 6 seconds behind my younger sister and way behind my friend Alicia. My running partner in 2013 was Alicia, There were other races where the goal was not a specific time, only to ‘BEAT ALICIA’ but after we parted ways and she was no longer the rabbit I was chasing her original time from that first half marathon- 02:30- stuck in my head as the time to beat.
I managed to improve my time by almost exactly 10 minutes for the Brooklyn Half in 2014 with a time of 02:32:53 but from there my half marathon times would steadily increase. To be only 3 minutes off the next year only to see the goal get further and furhter away was tough to take. My 5k times would improve and mile by mile become more consistent but my drive to take a half in under 02:30 had pretty much disappeared by 2018. I went into the race last year with Patti saying I was just going to consider it a fun run and not worry about my time. I don’t need to torture myself anymore. Patti said she would do the same.
As I ran my fun run I felt good, light, easy… and around mile 9 I realized I was on pace to finish under 2:30… ‘Well fuck.’ I thought… ‘If I CAN do it then that means now I HAVE TO. Sigh…’ I picked up the pace and found myself a mile and a half from the finish really hitting the wall. With my quads tightening up and threatening to lock on me but still on pace, I made a deal with my legs: If they would carry me to the finish under my time goal I would never run anything over a 10k again…
I finished at 02:29:11.
Do you think my legs knew I was lying when I made that promise?
I sat under a tree and cried while other runners passing by would see me and offer me things like, bananas, water, space blankets, thinking I was injured or upset and I would explain that I was fine just overwhelmed with emotion from hitting a six year time goal.
I realized then that I would not be keeping my promise to my legs to run only short distances. Now, I would have to do a marathon.
At Thanksgiving Patti and I ran a Turkey Trot to benefit Project Echo (a wonderful organization that helps homeless people in Southern Maryland) and on our way back we signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon for 2019.
This year, I said, I am going to take it seriously and train… Although here we are at the end of February and I am dreading even walking to the grocery store in this cold… I’ve found a 16 week training plan that begins exactly as I return from vacation in July. In the mean time, it’s time to start training to get in shape to be in training.
Anyone who’s read my archives knows I love a month long challenge, so that is how we’ll get this started. In March, I’m going to do * something * every day. That can be a class, (yoga, spin, rowing, etc.) a run that is at least one mile, or a walk that is at least 2 miles (no stopping for lunch in the middle, 2 continuous miles). Additionally, I must take the stairs at the office (better find that key card), I must take a walk at lunch during the week, and I must not eat any of the dumb snacks we stock there (fruit is not a dumb snack).
I’ll be doing weekly recap posts here to let you know how it’s going!