The Half Marathon cometh

So it’s been quite a while since I made a post here.  After I ran my first 10k on January 1st (Polar Dash medal and fleece jacket acquired!) there was a sort of…fall-apart moment.  It wasn’t a full-on episode complete with hate spiral stemming from week-long binges on junk food, it was more of a “don’t mind me, I’m just going to quietly play video games in this comfy chair for an undetermined period of time” type of deal.

My post 10k pic. I look happy to be done, don't I?

I guess after I had trained enough to know I could finish 6 miles, the 10k date was reached, the race had been endured, and the freezing of my ass had been complete, I felt a little aimless.  And I was sick of being outside in the Minnesota winter, alternating between sweating and freezing and unable to get warm hours after my runs were over.  definitely sick of that.  So, I gave up – for just a little while.  My husband had recently gotten Skyrim as a Christmas present (if you haven’t heard of this, let me sum it up by giving you these three keywords:  Playstation.  Dragons.  Life-avoidance.) and I spent more hours than I’m willing to admit to building up my smithing skills and stealing soul gems from the local shopkeepers.  Not my most graceful hours, I’ll admit.  But sometimes grown people just need to spend some quality time killing mythical creatures to forget that bills are due and workouts are being missed on a regular basis.

After I had spent about a month convincing myself that I was “letting my muscles rest”, there came a day (let’s say February 21st just to give things a starting point) when I realized I was going to be standing at the starting line of a half marathon in just over 90 days.  And it froze me in my sweatpants.  I’m going to be running 13.1 miles in June?  I haven’t run a single mile in weeks.  I’m dead.

And of course, when things get hairy, I head right for the internet.  Luckily for me, there are about a kajillion websites with 13 week training plans for running a half.  Exactly a kajillion.  They all seemed to have a similar pattern, and based on those I made my own plan that would get me to the goal of running at least 12 miles at a time before the big day.  I started out on the plan the next day, knowing that the sooner I started the less painful the June deadline would be.  Essentially my plan boiled down to running 4 times per week, between 3 and 5 miles per run for all but the last long run of the week.  The first long run was last Saturday, picking up where the 10k left off at 6 miles.  Mapquest pulled a quick one on me, and my planned route of 6 miles turned out to be 6.5 actual miles, but hey, that’s okay!  So this Saturday I am scheduled to go 7 to 7.5 miles for my long run, which with the shorter runs I did earlier in the week will bring my total somewhere around 16 miles.  The running schedule was also paired with a weight lifting/yoga supplement, adding one or the other on the days when I was scheduled to do a 2 or 3 miler, or on an off day.  Here is my schedule from last week:

  • Monday – 3.5 miles
  • Tuesday – 2 miles
  • Wednesday – 3 miles
  • Thursday – Weight training (including bench press, push ups, sit ups, squats with weights, lunges, chest flys, and whatever else I could throw at myself)
  • Friday – Off
  • Saturday – Long run, 6.5 miles
  • Sunday – Weight training

If I follow this plan, shorter runs followed up with an ever-increasing longer run, I should make it to race day without  destroying my mind and/or body, ending up at the finish line in some sort of quivering death march.

There were two solid problems standing before me:

1. In order to have a chance in hell at completing the race without totally humiliating myself I was going to have to Follow.The.Plan.  Without “letting my muscles rest” for a week at a time.

2.  Although I could finish a 5k and a 10k, I was still unable to run for more than 2 miles without slowing down for a walk break.  I was okay with this setback (sort of) until I read something written by a running coach:

You’re ready to run a half-marathon once you are capable of running 11 miles without stopping and you are consistently running at least 3 days a week.
Jill Andre Parker, from the book Run Like a Mother

Okay, Jill, you just sent me on a self-doubt trip there.  Was I kidding myself in thinking I could do this?  Just because I was raised thinking I could do anything, it was possible that there were limits to what I could actually do.  But why would all these 13 week beginner level training plans exist if not for people like me, who may have overshot the goal a bit?  Perhaps Jill was really talking about people who cared about “racing” a race as opposed to “finishing” a race.  I am definitely in the please-let-me-finish-this-sucker category.  Finishing 13.1 miles standing upright and holding a stained glass medal was really all that I wanted.  If there was no timing chip and all the clocks in the world stopped working at once, it really wouldn’t matter that much to me.

Actually, that’s not true; I want to know the time of my first half so that I can have a base to improve myself from.

In the long run, worrying about what Jill or the sabotaging voice in my head think really doesn’t matter.  The race has been paid for, and June 3rd is going to come whether I’m ready or not.  So the best thing I can do is get as ready as I can, buy a hydration belt and stock up on gels.

I’m going to be better about updating my progress on this journey, at the very least it will give me a reason to back away from the Playstation and practice not slouching in front of the computer.

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