Monday, March 3, 2008

6 Days Until the Half Marathon

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

The countdown is on -- six days until our first half marathon this Sunday. As a new runner and a half marathon rookie, it's been a roller coaster ride of excitement, confidence, fear, self-doubt, occasional physical pain, discipline and anxiety.

For the past several months I've been running several short runs during the week and a long run on the weekend. This long runs gradually build in distance. Last weekend I had that horrible 10-mile run -- a bit of stomach queasiness, lack of concentration and running a route I didn't like. I really thought there was no way I could do a full 13.1 miles.

But, as it seems to go with running, with a day off and my short runs easily conquered during the week, I was ready to take on another 10-mile run yesterday. Just like in life, in running there are good days and bad. It's the good days that keep me coming back for more.

The only thing that stood to slow me down was the wind. It wasn't a cold wind (still comfortable in shorts and a tank at 9:30 a.m. -- sorry to rub that in to my cold-weather family and friends), but pleasant running weather. I felt weighed down with stuff. I wore a water belt, I had on Brett's new fancy Garmin watch (which by the way is very cool -- it tells me my pace and how far I've ran), and my Ipod around my neck (I still just have the little Shuffle version).

The wind was getting squirrely -- all I could think about was holding down my baseball cap. About a mile and half into it, as I'm running west on Anthem Way, I approach a crossing street. A car is coming but motions for me to go. I'm not quite there so I have to quicken my pace to quickly cross the street.

Then my hat goes flying. Off my head, down Freedom Way -- or maybe it was Independence Way, I can't remember. I try to run to catch up to it. As soon as I almost reach it, the wind carries it ahead a few more feet. It happens again. I felt like the magician in Frosty the Snowman trying to get that darned hat. By now three cars are in line at the stop sign and my hat is flying right in their path.

Finally ... the wind is on my side and I stomp on it and proceed back to my route. My poor white hat is heavily streaked in black and grey. I carry it for the rest of my run.

So, other than feeling like a fool chasing my hat, I had a great run. 10.2 miles. I ran like it was race day. Very conservative, slow pace. By the end I felt like I still had enough to keep going.

Now, I get to do what my training program calls "tapering." Minimizing this week's runs to get my body and mind ready for Sunday. Four miles on Tuesday, three on Wednesday and two on Thursday.

Then 13.1 on Sunday. Still not sure whether I'm excited or terrified.

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