Monday, April 30, 2012

It's "Just" a Half

I am a marathoner, dagnabbit! A marathoner who after a debilitating and slowly rehabilitating injury, hasn't run a marathon in two years.  I missed that distance, the disciplined 18-week training plan, the early bedtimes, the carefully laid out clothes and Gu the night before a long run, the camaraderie that resulted from running with folks for hours and hours on end and most of all the rush of emotion that resulted upon crossing the finish line and the pride that followed for months afterward.

Half marathons?  Really?  Why?  I scoffed at the t-shirts and bumper stickers that said "13.1: Half the distance, double the fun".  Fuck that!  I snubbed my nose at the fact that us marathoners had to share our day, our lime light, our course, and spectators with those JUST doing the half.  Dammit, they had no right to the term "marathon".  Each distance had it's own term: there's a 5k, 10k, marathon, ultra marathon and a variety of distances in between.  Why couldn't a half marathon have it's own unique name rather than co-opt one?  I was such a marathon snob.

So what's a marathoner, whose body doesn't allow them to run marathons supposed to do?  I was running, cycling, swimming, yoga-ing, and weight lifting.  I didn't have any goals.  I was coasting along wondering what I should be doing.  What was my body was capable of doing after this eight month long injury-rehab induced hiatus?  I was pissed as hell that I would miss out on my annual marathon not one, but two years in a row.  Fuck it, if I couldn't run longer, I'd at least run faster.  

Over the last year, I lost ten to twelve pounds.  This along with my new running partners resulted in a spring in my step and a slightly zippier pace.  When I became a "master" (age 40) I decided to be really brave and try working out with the speed group whom I had previous been too intimidated to join.  The first few weeks were humbling.  I had folks ten and twenty years older than me running circles around me.  I was in awe.  I was ready to work.  I wanted to get faster.  I finally believed that myself and speed weren't necessary mutually exclusive.  I set out to discover a new speedier version of me.

Let me remind you that of all the cities for this nine to ten minute miler to live in, I chose "Track-Fucking-Town-USA."  The bell curve for running times here is ridiculously skewed.  I would need to toss away all my preconceived notions of speed, learn not to compare myself with others and to strive for goals that were just within my reach, yet far enough away that I had something to work towards.  After my race drought, I got overly ambitious when I realized I had finally healed.  Before I knew it, I had run in the Hood to Coast relay, cycled a century (my first), ran a half marathon trail run (PRd), raced a 5K (another PR), raced a 25K trail run (another PR!) then registered and started training for a half marathon, a sprint tri and a half ironman.  If I couldn't run a marathon, I'd at least run a shit-load of other races, and run them fast, well faster, anyway.

How exactly was this supposed to happen though?  It was time to kiss my generic Runners World on-line training plans, change my relationship with running and work directly with a coach.  I was just training for a half though.  This only required a ten week training plan, as opposed to an 18 week training plan.  Since I was simultaneously tri-ing, I would only run three days a week and cycle/swim the other three days.  How hard was this going to be?  Half the distance, twice the fun, right?  No, prob.  I got this.... or so I thought.

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