Monday, May 21, 2012
Sometimes I still consider myself a newbie to this whole running thing, even though my first 5K was now two and a half years ago. I trained and did a few 5K's and 10K's for over a year before I moved up to the Half Marathon level. It was one of the most self-satisfying accomplishments of my life. So why, I wonder, did it take so long to do another?
After a year and a half, I finally entered my second Half Marathon this past weekend. It was part of the Inaugural St. Michaels Running Festival in St. Michaels, MD. That is a quaint little touristy town about an hour from my home and just 20 minutes or so from my work. for anyone looking for a race to do next year, I will also add it is flat as a pancake!
As the days approached I found myself both looking forward to the race, but also slightly nervous. That was certainly true for my first HM but this was different. After all, I had run one before so mentally I knew it was possible and I knew (at least theoretically) what I was in for. Still, although training went well, this time around I only ran three days/week, with two days of cross training (walking on 10% slope on Treadmill) and two days of rest. That is significantly less than leading up to my first Half. Also, for whatever reason I am a good 15 pounds heavier today than I was at the end of 2010. I believe the reason is the quality of what I am eating and that is the number one thing I am going to focus on now because if I can run a Half Marathon today at close to the same speed I did 18 months and 15 pounds ago, I optimistically think I could really do well if I got back down even close to that weight.
Race day was beautiful. The temps were probably upper 60's to low 70's throughout the race. Definitely warmer than my first Half when it was so cold that the water at the first water stop was frozen! It was also fairly breezy, but we caught a break in that for 90% of the race that breeze was a cross wind and on the only significant portion that was into the wind, it was also through a heavily wooded area so the trees helped block the wind.
In all honesty I was really not sure what to expect in terms of performance. My Long Runs leading up to the event had been fairly slow, but that was largely a conscious effort to run them slowly so as to be more ready come race day. I had to put an estimated finish time on the entry form. I finished my first Half in 1:56, so I guessed 2:15 and hoped for something around 2:10. Throughout the race I was ahead of that pace, but afraid it would really tail off towards the end. Remarkably though I found myself getting stronger, so much so that my fastest mile was mile 7. To have essentially run a 10K and then run my best mile of the day was encouraging. I had also caught a friend at about mile 7 whom I have never beaten before in the two or three 10k's we've run together. We'd run together for a while and then he'd take a walk break. Soon thereafter he'd catch up again and then fall back. I just knew he'd catch me and go past me right at the finish line, but somehow I finished about a minute before him. I choose to focus on the fact that he was a high school track athlete and I..., well I was most decidedly not, rather than the fact that this was just his second race back after being sidelined with a hip injury!. Anyway, my final time was 2:02.35. All things considered (extra weight, warmer weather, etc...), it could be argued that this was an even better performance than my first Half, even though it was a little more than 5 minutes slower.
I am beginning to feel more like a true Half Marathoner now. After all, I tell myself, nearly anyone can psyche themselves up and do a HM once. Heck, I suspect that is what I will do with a full marathon myself one day. To repeat it, though, that takes it to a whole other level, especially when, as is the case for me now, you start looking forward to the next one!
Bring on HM #3. I can't wait, especially if I can do it without the extra baggage. That's the next chapter in this ever evolving journey to lifelong health and fitness. I feel confident I am ready for it.