This last Saturday, I ran the Montgomery Half Marathon. I’ve been training for it for over 13 weeks, starting with long runs every weekend with first hill repeats and then speed intervals on Wednesdays. Then for cross-training I’ve been biking 30+ miles on Sundays and 15+ miles two other week days. Plus swimming and weights.
Oh, and have I mentioned obsessing? Yea, that too.
I went to the McMillan Running website to get all the interval speeds I should be hitting, so lots of Long Steady Distance runs on the weekends. When I first started, his website said I should be able to hit a 2:20 time, so I was planning on beating 2:30 no matter what (unless a leg fell off or I caught fire). But then two weeks before the race, on my last really long run before my taper, I ran with a friend who was just a little faster than me, and found out that after 11 miles I had done a 10:10/mile pace – about 20 seconds faster than I thought I could do. All that training had paid off, but I had not changed my goal time!
My secret goal at that point became to beat 2:15, and to do that I needed to be right about a 10:10 pace I had already proved to myself I could do. So I aimed for even 10 minute paces for the first part of the course, and once I got the downhill advantage to try and do 9:30 on the rest. And I did. I even found enough kick to go the last 0.28 miles at an 8:36 pace, and still don’t know where that came from.
This elevation graph explains why I thought the back end of the run could go faster. That first climb is just over 2 miles long, and is 150 feet of elevation change (not counting the part that goes downhill and you run up again) but I hoped the initial adrenaline kick would carry me through those 2 miles. Then just past mile 10 is another hill, our own little “heartbreak hill” that you turn a corner and see staring you in the face for about 8 blocks. This one is only 60 feet of climb but is just 0.45 mile long, and I wanted more than anything to be able to run it all the way to the top. And I did – at the top I shouted out loud “I OWN YOU”! Then stumbled forward for another block and finally got my rhythm back.
I finished with a final time of 2:10:07, and am still pumped about the race. I’ve got my medal hanging in my office, because by now everyone at work knows I’m “that runner guy”.
Once I started running running 11+ miles every weekend, my wife decided she could do a half marathon too, even if it meant she had to do the run/walk plan. Her longest so far is 6 miles, so to give her plenty of time, we signed up for the Seaside Half Marathon just outside of Destin Florida. She liked it because it’s sponsored by Vera Bradley, and their swag looked impressive.