Monday, July 17, 2017

Thirteen Point Freaking One

It's amazing what happens when you tell people that you're going to run a half-marathon. (The what?) There is such a wide array of reactions that you receive. I guess that goes for anything in life. If you tell someone you're having a baby, you're bound to get many people who are happy for you, but for every one of those happy people, you'll probably get a person who rolls their eyes and says, "Why?" The negative reactions probably increase with the number of children you have.

I almost think the same holds true for the number of miles that are in a race you plan to run. While there will always be people who support you and are proud of you, there will likely be many people who make you question your decision.

Of course training for a longer distance race, especially in a short window, will put you at risk for injury. Training too fast, too hard is a lot of stress of the bones, the muscles and the body. Shin splits, stress fractures, torn ligaments...those may as well be curse words when you're a runner. Ideally, a runner would want a significant amount of time to train for a long race. However, that isn't always a possibility.

During the last week of June, I saw an advertisement on Facebook for a local half-marathon that was scheduled for the end of July. The price was reasonable and all of the profits are given to a local nature center. A half-marathon has not, I repeat, NOT been on my radar for this year. As I've mentioned a few times before, it's difficult to find weekend races that work with my schedule. My husband works 12-hour shifts on the weekends, and I don't like imposing on the same people over and over when I need childcare. My husband has already gone above and beyond when it comes to supporting my running. I don't expect nor want his vacation to be used up solely so I can race on the weekends. I try really hard to find weekday races and none of them are half-marathons.

With that being said, I noticed that this particular half-marathon was on a weekend that my husband had planned to take off of work for our kid's annual softball tournament. I asked him what he thought about the idea of me running a race Saturday morning, before the softball games started. My question wasn't greeted with enthusiasm, but it also wasn't greeted with, "No." Hmmm.

My next step was to search for four-week half-marathon training plans. Could it even be done? I found a training plan that was based on walk-run intervals. The plan was supposedly good for people who were currently fit enough to walk-run five miles. That described me. Hmmm.

After looking at the training plan, I contacted my doctor and asked if I could get her okay in running a half-marathon. After my appointment, she said there was no concerning issues and that I could go ahead with my training.

At this point, I hadn't actually registered for the race. I was waiting for the pieces to fall into place. After they did, I went ahead and registered for my first half-marathon. Honestly, my stomach turned after I clicked that "submit" button. What had I just done?

Now, here I am less than two weeks away from the race. My training is going pretty well. My long run last week was eight miles and was my longest personal run ever. I used 4:00 run/1:00 walk intervals based on information I found in an article: "Run-Walk-Run to Faster Times, Faster Recovery." by Jeff Galloway. If you haven't heard of Jeff Galloway, I suggest you do some research on him. I became aware of his name when I joined the Run The Year 2017 Challenge. Many people participating in that challenge use Galloway's methods to run races. They've seen quite a bit of success walk-running. And after my eight mile run I noticed that I wasn't as fatigued as I'd been in the past. Normally I'm ready for a nap after a long run. Not so, this time. 

Running, whether training for a specific distance or not, can lead to injury if one isn't careful. I know that the people who are worried about me are only warning me out of love. However, on any given day, my life is just as likely to cause me injury as running is. Last October, I stubbed my toe on my bed frame. I thought it was broken and I had a race coming up. I had to take a few days off, and run with my toe taped. A few months ago, I tripped going up the stairs and I landed on my knee on the wood floor while simultaneously hitting my head against the wall. I also fell out of bed a few months ago. I was at the edge of the bed, closer than I thought, and when I went to put my legs over the edge, the mattress compressed just enough to send me to the floor. My back hit my nightstand and my tailbone hit the hardwood floor. Ouch.

I've injured myself more times than I can count. As Pink sings, "I'm a Hazard to Myself." I could just as easily get hurt getting out of bed as I could while training to run a half-marathon. If I'm being honest, I think I feel more safe while I'm running, because I'm focusing on my surroundings more. In any case, I have every intention of completing my first half-marathon on July 29th. As long as I can maintain a 16:00/mile or faster pace, I should be okay. I need to be that fast in order to beat the course time limit of 3.5 hours. Based on how my runs have been going, I'm setting a goal of 2:45:00 for myself. I think it's realistic and completely achievable.

Over the next two weeks, I'll continue training. My next long run will be between ten and eleven miles. After that it's thirteen point freaking one. And even though I didn't have that in my sights two weeks ago, I'm determined to succeed.