The looming half marathon

OK, so is it time to freak out yet?

I am going to get out there and run half of a marathon in 11 days. I don’t know if I’m ready. I don’t know if there is anything else I can do. I want to get out and train a lot more but it is nearly too late.

I did the 12k race with my wife this Sunday, we ran 11:25 miles and it was pretty easy for me, she put in a great effort to reach that pace and finish up strong even though her legs were tiring. I was more sore than I thought I would be though as the day progressed. But the next day felt like nothing happened, so that is good I suppose. It should be my cardio abilities that stop me from reaching my goal not that I can’t complete the 13.1 miles, although who knows what forces will conspire against me that day.

I think I am going to do some hard interval type workouts in the next 3-4 days, hopefully spring those lungs to gasp a little bit more than they would otherwise and then take it easy next week and I recover from those hard workouts. My goal is to get to the burning feeling that I will feel as I run so far in the race but in a much quicker fashion so that I am not actually stressing my knees and joints this close to my taper. I will also try and get in 3 runs this week, probably I will do a longer one like 8 miles slower on the weekend and try to hit it twice during the week for 5 miles. I just can’ up the mileage now even though I fell behind on the training plan. It is too late to do more. 18 miles is a strong  showing for me in a week so I am not feeling bad about that.

My goal, the one in my minds eye that I really want whether reasonable or not, is to do my first half marathon under 2 hours. This is a 9:09 minute per mile pace which is a bit of a stretch for me. The course is perfect for it though and if I feel good it may be possible. The website doesn’t say for sure but it looks like 600 people are signed up 400 for the half and 200 for the full marathon. So if 400 people get spread out over 6 miles (that would be the slowest finishing in double the time of the fastest which seems reasonable) then the average distance between them would be 80 feet, and I should be close to the bell shaped clump in the middle so even near the end I should never be more than 80 feet from the person in front of me. This will be some good motivation to try and catch a few of them.

I will try and start out at a 9 minute pace and see how far I can go before I feel like it is too fast. I should make the 4 mile mark and from there is a downhill section that should keep me on pace for another 2 miles. So at 6 miles I will be running a flat race and should know by then if my pace is going to have a shot at holding up. I will have an extra minute to give back at this point and will likely do so on a couple of little baby hills. I am going to push through any psycological pain as best I can as long as it isn’t injury pain. I get to feeling too bad and I will just focus on the few people in front of me to pull me along as though we are attached by a giant strechy rubber band.

If everything falls apart on the goal pace front, my fallback plan is to not walk at all, unless injured of course. Even if I drop to a 10, 11, or 12 minute mile I will still be able to say I have done a half marathon and that will be ahuge accomplishment. It will give me a record that I can beat. I will also have a little push at the end if I am getting close to a 2:20 time because I have the thought in my head that I should be able to beat the pace set by Tara on the Biggest Loser when she did her half marathon challenge in about that time. That was a special episode for me. After my wife saw it she decided that it was possible that she could run the 12k race we just did if they could do a half marathon. It also gave me some peace of mind that I could really do a half marathon and that it is not nearly as much as it sounds like when the word marathon comes rolling off the tongue.

And my final plan if the wheels do come off, I am going to have a bunch of people there I know wondering where the hell I am if I come rolling up 30 minutes late. So if it comes to this I will fake a limp and if I can find one I will roll around in a mud puddle a bit to make it look like something drastic happened. It will be a good story for dinner parties if nothing else.

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately and have thought about how cool it would be to qualify for the Boston marathon. I need a time of 3:20, which is a pace of 7:38 per mile. I am currently reading a book by Matt Fitzgerald called Brain Training For Runners. It is an awesome book and he has a great blog too. I plan to come up with a plan for how I can get to the point where I am now, that is to run one mile at 7:20, and add distance until I can run 26 of them at that pace. Sounds easy enough. I think I am going to go out and run a fast mile this week to see what my best is. I did the 7:20 a while back and on my treadmill, so I think I have a shot at getting in under 7 minutes. We’ll see. If I can hit 6:52 I will be at the magical point of improving my time from when I started by cutting it in half. A real feat that can only be accomplished by a beginner and only once.

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