I have defeated November 10.
I started my training for the LSC Half Marathon on August 12, 2013. I was following the schedule that the LSC had published and was determined to stick to it.
As many of you know, this wasn’t going to be my first half marathon. I had successfully completed the 2013 Derby Festival half marathon in the spring and had just missed my goal of finishing in under 2 hours, 30 minutes. I can make all the excuses I want for doing a half-assed training in the spring but at the end of the day I didn’t make my performance a priority and disappointed myself. And I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
It was this disappointment and a need to have something that I had complete control over that made me become so dedicated to the training this fall. I had seen a lot of changes in the months prior… graduating, the end of a relationship, starting at Strategic… and needed something that was completely determined by my own actions. Not to mention I realized that my burn-out from Australia had resulted in me being in one of the worst shapes of my life, tipping the scale at 218 pounds and much weaker than I had been in a long time on the first week of my training.
So I ran.
The schedule started out easy enough but damn it made me realize just how bad of shape I was in. I took full advantage of the gym at work to kick start myself and actually found that doing treadmill work helped me not stop and get my cadence under control. Once my distances became too long to do at work or on the treadmill I suffered through that transition which was hell on my knees and shins. But slowly but surely, I gained back a solid base and a lot more confidence to move forward with the training.
For the first time in my life, I kept a detailed log of my workouts over the 14 weeks that tracked everything from distance and time to how much sleep I had. I will never not keep a workout log again. It is incredible to flip back through the pages and see where I started and ended. Going from 7.5 miles in a week to 13.1 in one day and the ups and downs that got me there is really motivating. The log also helped me to keep track of what was and wasn’t working as far as time of day, fuel, and difficulty of certain routes.
November 10 was a great day. I was confident in myself and my ability to stay at the 9 minute mile pace that would allow me to finish at or under 2 hours. It was a gorgeous day here in Louisville, too. A tad windy at times but the sun was out and life was good. I started much faster than I intended, letting the adrenaline and satisfaction of passing people get to my head, but that came to a quick end when I hit the rolling hills of Cherokee Park and Cave Hill Cemetery. My IT bands were on fire when I ran out onto Baxter and started the run back downtown. It was around this time that I also began to feel some fatigue in my hamstrings. This gave me a pretty scare because in the last mile of the Derby half my quads had pretty much given out on me and my race would’ve been shot had my hamstrings done so that day. Here’s to you, hammies, for sticking in there. I also found myself racing against the other runners which was really messing with my pace and rhythm. Once I was able to focus on running against my goal and the clock I started to run more smoothly and actually increased my pace by a bit. The last 1.1 miles were a straight shot up main and it was the longest mile of my life. I stuck to my tradition of sprinting the last half mile (the operative term being sprinting, here) and wasn’t even paying attention to the numbers on the clock when I crossed the finish line.
1 hour, 52 minutes, 56 seconds. My watch had suspiciously added 7 seconds to my time, but both had me in absolute shock. I knew that running the half at a 9 minute pace and cutting 30 minutes off of my time from the spring was ambitious and I didn’t think that I had been running that well that day so when I saw my time I was on Cloud 9. An 8:37 pace and 40 minutes cut off from the spring was beyond my wildest expectations and it felt so good to have the past 14 weeks pay off. I placed 435th out of 1,947 participants and 26th out of 43 runners in my division, Men’s 20-24, too!
Even with how excited I am about my finishing time, it isn’t anywhere close to the most important part of the past 14 weeks. When I started training I was not in the best place; I was unhappy with the shape I was in, restless, and much too focused on things that were in the past and I had no control over. But when I crossed that finish line none of that was there. Running had helped me to direct my frustrations to a positive goal, think and come to terms with “what ifs” that I was wrestling with, melt almost 20 pounds off, and gain back the sense of control and confidence that I was fumbling with in August. And that is worth more than any combination of numbers on a stop watch.
So, for all of you who think that its too late or too cold or you’re ‘too far gone’ to start running, I am here to tell you that all of that is bologna. Whether it is a half marathon or a 5k isn’t what is important, starting something that I will guarantee you will love and thank yourself for later is what matters. Give it time and stick with it and let me know how everything goes!