I could feel it calling me while I was in Victoria enjoying the afterglow of having completed a very satisfying half marathon. I kept watching the people who had run the full marathon (identifiable by their very stylish jackets) and envying them.
After I ran the full marathon last year in Victoria, I told myself I wouldn’t run another full until a time that my age ended in “0” or “5” — so that I’d be among the youngest people in my age group. Well, next year’s Victoria marathon is scheduled to take place just days after I celebrate a birthday that ends in “0.” What better way to recognize a milestone birthday than to run a marathon?
My plan gets a little more ambitious than that, however. I couldn’t help but notice that the Victoria race takes place the same day as a much bigger and better-known marathon: Chicago! So I’ve been online busily researching what it will take to earn myself a spot in that world-class marathon.
Many of the race spots are awarded by lottery, so all I have to do is put my name in and hope that I’m one of the lucky ones drawn. If I get picked, then I’ll be enjoying a very big October vacation. And if I don’t? I’ll be thrilled to run again in Victoria!
I don’t expect to be competitive in my age group, even with the advantage of being one of the youngest. Just as I was last year, I’ll be happy to train safely, run strongly, and finish. But I get shivers every time I think about running 26.2 miles with 40,000 or so fellow runners.
Between now and then, I’ll maintain a fitness baseline over the winter, running 15-20 easy miles per week in all sorts of nasty weather, before starting to amp up the running intensity once again for the North Olympic Discovery half marathon in early June. By the beginning of July, I’ll move into serious marathon training.
I suppose it’s a sickness, wanting so badly to again go out and do a thing so demanding, so consuming of time and energy. But once I recognized that I really, honestly want to do this again, there was simply nothing to do but yield to the clarion call.
With apologies to John Muir, then:
The marathon is calling and I must go!
I went to Victoria with, shall we say, a bigger than usual focus on a goal. My last few weeks of training and preparation had gone so well that I wasn’t simply looking forward to running another race. I figured that I had a realistic chance at finishing faster than 2:12:01 and finally setting another PR a year and a half after that previous great day.
I really didn’t want to screw up my chances, so I planned every last detail — what I would wear on race day, exactly what and when I would eat, the precise times I needed to hit at the end of every mile. Okay, I went a little around the bend into obsessive-compulsive territory. The Victoria half marathon had become a Really Big Deal for me.
I’m one of those runners who almost always runs to music. I run in beautiful places and I do love the sights and sounds of nature, so I keep the volume really low. Still, there is something about a running anthem that helps me to gather courage and keep going at times when I might otherwise feel like stopping to take a photo or maybe walking for a while.
My usual running playlist contains about 130 songs, which is about 7.5 hours worth of music. I put my iPhone on shuffle and let it serve me up songs randomly; whatever comes up is usually good enough.
For this race I got the idea of creating a custom playlist that I would let play through in order. I timed the order of the 37 songs as closely as I could to my planned pace of about 10 minutes per mile through mile 10, and then as fast as possible.
I planned to go over the starting line to the opening notes of the theme from the movie Chariots of Fire. I know, really hokey, but the song always gets me pumped. For the first few miles I’d be listening to music about relaxing and enjoying the day, designed to keep me from going out too fast. Then at certain key points I’d hear very specific songs that would cue me to think about this thing or do that other thing. For example, I put “Run-Around” by Blues Traveler at the point where the course turns back toward the finish. I’d hear “Eight Miles High” by the Who at the 8-mile mark. From that point on I had songs that were designed to help me get down to work and seriously pick up the pace. Finally, I planned to finish to two iterations of “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities. The phrase “safe and sound” is sort of a running mantra for me.
I timed the whole thing so that if I could get to the finish line before “Safe and Sound” ended for the second time I should have my PR by 15 to 30 seconds. I added one more song after that so that if I faded (or miscalculated the song lengths!), I wouldn’t have to finish in silence.
I had a lot of fun assembling the playlist, and doing that project helped me quell the pre-race jitters as well.
Before dawn on race day, CFL and I walked the mile from our motel to Victoria’s Inner Harbor where the race would start and end in front of the Parliament building. The sun was just beginning to rise as we lined up with nearly 4,000 other runners. I lined up with the “2:15″ crowd and CFL, who was walking, went back toward the rear.
After the horn went off at 7:30 it took me about three minutes to reach the starting line through the crowd. I queued up my music as I crossed the mat and off I went.
The weather was perfect — low 50s and calm with a light cloud cover. My feet did not go numb in the first mile as they usually do. Everything looked good!
The first couple of miles went exactly as planned. Then I noticed that the course, which I always think of as flat, is actually quite hilly. Victoria fools me that way every time! By the time I hit mile 4 I was working harder than I wanted to and was still a couple seconds over the magic 10:00 minute pace. I was regretting that last taster at the brewpub the night before.
There was some downhill in mile 5 so I made up all that time with a 9:36 mile. I then managed to get myself settled down over the next few miles. My GPS watch was telling me I was on pace, and the fact that I was hearing the right songs at the right time confirmed my watch data and gave me that extra bit of confidence.
At most of the aid stations I was only taking splashes of water, and choking on most of that. One of these years I’ll master the art of drinking on the run, but I’m not there yet. I eventually got rather warm and thirsty so I decided to walk through an aid station at mile 10 and take a few full swallows. That was my first walk break.
At mile 11 I had one song backfire on me. The opening notes of Joe Cocker’s “High Time We Went” caused my mind to scream, “Oh no we’re not going!” I placated myself with another, very short walk break. But I was just under a 10 minute pace at that moment and that PR was not yet out of reach! After a few long deep breaths I decided to ignore that part of my mind and get back to work.
I ran mile 12 in 9:29, carried forward gallantly by David Bowie’s “Heroes.” I started mile 13 right on schedule to a reprise of “Chariots of Fire.” Then when “Safe and Sound” came up for the first time I knew I had exactly 6 and a half minutes to get to the finish line.
I got there with at least 10 seconds to spare. I passed several people right at the finish. I finished in 2:11:42 — a PR by 19 seconds! It was a negative split by almost two minutes. I placed 67th out of 173 in my age/gender group, which is my highest-place finish at Victoria and a Really Big Deal for me.
I finished feeling safe and sound, but I’m quite sore today — more so than I usually am after a half marathon. I really did put it all out there in the last couple of miles. I’m not sure I could have done it if it weren’t for that silly playlist. I think it actually helped me to maintain my commitment to myself in those late miles when I was getting very tired.
As for CFL? He took a leisurely stroll on a beautiful course, finished in 3:21, and told me in great detail about the sights he’d seen along the way — things I’d mostly missed while in my tunnel-vision running world. He had a great day too.
We’ll be back to do it again next year!
The Victoria half marathon is now only seven days away, which means that I’m well into taper mode. My last few weeks of training have gone well enough. My longest long run was a solid and steady 11-miler back on September 20 (V minus 22 days) followed on 9/30 (V-12) by a very brisk 9-miler.
I have mostly focused my recent training on pacing. I’m feeling very strong (for some odd reason!!) so I’m having to fight the urge to go out too quickly, which always only results in tiring too much in the later miles. To train for my race strategy, I’ve practiced staying steady on pace during the first half and then making each mile in the second half just a little quicker. For the most part I’ve been successful doing that.
Over this past week my focus has turned to rehearsing for race day itself. I confess that now that I’m no longer working, I’ve developed a very casual attitude toward mornings… as in, I don’t do them at all! I’ve never been a morning person, but these days if I’m out of bed before 8:00, that’s early. But the race will start at 7:30!
So for my last two runs, I have set the alarm and made myself get up. On Friday, I had it set for 5:40 and managed to talk myself into getting up at 7:00.
This morning I set the alarm for 5:30 and I was up at 5:40. What an improvement — hurrah!
Unfortunately I can’t simply wake up, go out the door, and run. There is food to consider, and there are morning rituals. My goal for this week’s running has been to duplicate as many aspects of race day as possible.
I know from experience that if I’m up three hours before the start of the race, and if I’ve finished eating two hours before, my stomach will usually allow me to run without too many complaints. I also know from experience that a banana or two along with a slice or two of bread and a cup of coffee will usually work well for me on race day, provided I’ve eaten well (three cheers for pasta!) the night before. So — despite the fact that I really don’t like bananas at all — I’m eating bananas.
The other good thing about bananas is that I can usually find them in Victoria. Running this race means international travel — albeit only 20+ miles across the strait. I’ve learned what foods I can and cannot bring with me into Canada. I’ve never had any problem bringing a few slices of bread, but fruit? Yogurt? I’m not even gonna try. But there’s a little deli restaurant along the way from the ferry dock to the motel, and I’ve never failed to find a bowl of bananas there. They might cost me a dollar or more apiece, but I’m reasonably confident that I’ll find them there.
I plan on running just one more time between now and next Sunday. I’ll set my alarm for 4:30 on Wednesday. I’ll eat a danged banana or two and then I’ll go out and run 4 or 5 easy miles starting at 7:30, just moments after sunrise.
I was thinking about this whole taper thing while I was running this morning. I was thinking about how nice it is that I don’t freak out about it anymore. I no longer talk about “taper terror.” It’s not that I’ve become blase, but simply that I now know what to expect. I know I’m going to be anxious. I expect to gain a pound or two. I’ll have nightmares and butterflies and at some point I’ll become convinced that I’m going to fall apart. Or not. Whatever. On race morning I’ll be an insufferable basket of nerves, but I’ll somehow get myself to the starting line and I’ll run.
I’ve done this. I know how it works. I know I can do it. The nerves and the spreadsheet obsession are simply parts of the process for me.
Within the next week, I’ll pass two life milestones. One is a birthday — my 59th — and the other is the 6th anniversary of the day I first stepped onto my new treadmill and pronounced myself a “runner.” I put those two numbers together and marvel at the fact that I’ve been running for more than 10% of my life. Given that, I guess it’s about time I figured out a few of the tricks of the trade, right?
This morning I took some time after finishing to look around and enjoy the beautiful morning that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen.
It was worth getting up for! I could learn to love this.
One step at a time!
While I’ve been happily biking and hiking my way through this exceptionally glorious Pacific Northwest summer, the days and weeks have flown by! The Victoria half marathon is now only 23 days away. So… how am I doing with my race training?
When I last wrote here, I was struggling. I had lost so much momentum during the weeks I spent recovering from my broken arm that running had lost its “fun” factor for me. On a warm day it was easier and more enjoyable to hop on my bike rather than to go out there and slog through the hot miles on foot.
My very next run after I wrote that somewhat whiny last post was an unexpectedly great one: a perfectly steady, strong 9-miler. It’s basically been like that ever since. Well, not always perfect, but on most days both my endurance and my speed are continuing to improve. I’m coming back!
Over the past couple weeks I’ve been easily maintaining a sub-10 minute pace for several miles at a time. I’ve also been doing some focused speed work over shorter distances. I’ve never really done tempo training, but my current experiments with pushing the pace for short intervals seem to be paying off.
It has helped that the seasons are definitely changing. The leaves are starting to turn and fall; I swished my way through big-leaf maple leaves lying across the trail the other day. We’ve finally had a bit of rain. I actually felt chilled during my first mile yesterday. What a relief!
My goal for Victoria is, of course, the long-elusive sub-2:10:00 — the last of the second set of big hairy audacious running goals that I set for myself back in February 2013. To do that I’ll have to run a 9:55 pace for 13.1 miles. To be safe my watch has to tell me I’m on a 9:53 pace, which leaves room for the inevitable GPS wobble that makes every race measure long.
On a perfect day (and Victoria in October has a way of being charmingly perfect) I think this might be the day when I actually pull off that sub-2:10:00.
But it’s always good to have “B” and “C” goals, right?
- “B” goal — 2:12:00 will beat my current half marathon PR of 2:12:01.
- “C” goal — 2:14:28 will beat my Victoria half marathon PR of 2:14:29.
Tomorrow I’m planning to run 11 miles, which will be my longest training run before I start to think about my taper. I’m aiming to run it at an easy, sustainable, as-close-as-possible-to-10:00 pace.
I’ll have a much better idea of my race prospects after tomorrow. I’m optimistic about Victoria… but we’ll see.
One step at a time!
Wow, it’s been a while since I have posted here. I had no idea that having to take several weeks off from running while recovering from a broken arm was going to affect my running momentum for months to come.
I last posted here about running a half marathon only nine days after my doctor cleared me to run again. I was slow and I walked a lot, but I managed to finish in 2:33:37, just 21 minutes off my PR. In retrospect, that race was one of my better running days this summer.
I knew long before my accident that I have become a total cool-weather runner. I don’t enjoy running in the heat (I define “heat” as anything over about 60 degrees). I have to carry water. I have to put on sunblock and some of it always ends up in my eyes, making them burn. Sometimes running in the sun makes me dizzy.
I’d much rather run in the rain. Rain keeps me cool and if I want a sip of water, all I have to do is stick out my tongue.
I don’t enjoy running all that much when it’s really cold either. At temperatures below 40 degrees, my feet go numb. It takes me a mile or two or even four before I warm up enough that I can fully feel my feet. But I’d rather run on numb feet than run on a hot day. For me, a cold day is the perfect incentive to run long — if it’s going to take me four miles to warm up, I might as well run at least eight miles. So why not run ten or more? Long runs are easy on a cold day.
So give me temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees with a bit of mist and I am a not-so-slow but very happy runner.
This summer in the Pacific Northwest has been long, hot (by PNW standards), and dry. I’ve tried to get back to my traditional schedule of running three days a week, but more often than not I’ve run twice… or just once… a week. CFL and I have traveled for a total of five weeks this summer. I find it difficult to keep to a running schedule while traveling because we like to do things together, and CFL doesn’t run.
Excuses, excuses! The fact is, this summer has played out as follows: On any given morning, I think, well, I can run or I can ride my bike. Running makes me hot and sweaty. Riding my bike creates a cool breeze and allows me to cover more miles more comfortably. The bike is looking pretty good this summer!
Although I haven’t been running as much as I’d planned, I have finally gotten back most of the speed that I’d lost during my time off. I hammered out 6.6 miles at a 9:38 pace the other day. But I don’t seem to be running with joy, and that concerns me. I don’t seem to be running with heart. When I get tired, it’s just too easy for me to decide to walk or even stop instead of pushing on.
Near the beginning of this year I looked forward to the Victoria half marathon this October as a realistic chance at another half marathon PR, maybe even the still-elusive 2:10:00. That’s not looking so likely now.
I’ve decided not to worry about it too much. Running is supposed to be fun, right? The fun will return — I’m sure it will! We probably only have a couple of weeks now before the temperature drops back into my comfort zone. Victoria is still seven and a half weeks away. I still have time to get serious about training… right??
As I stood at the starting line for the North Olympic Discovery half marathon yesterday, I truly had no idea how the race would go for me. My doctor had only cleared me to run nine days earlier, after seven weeks of recovery from my broken arm. I’d run/walked four times in the week prior to the race, with a “long” run of 7 miles and total mileage of just under 19 miles. I was slow and my legs felt a little shaky, but I was running again — and I was determined to run as much as possible on race day!
Back when I was still thinking I’d have to walk the whole race, one of my running friends (who hasn’t run much over the past few months) decided that she’d walk it with me. A few days before the race I asked her if she was up to run/walking with me. I told her I thought I might be able to sustain a 12:00 to 12:30 pace. She sort of freaked out at the thought of running 13.1 miles on NO recent training, but was willing to give it a try. We promised each other that whenever either of us needed a walk break for any reason, we’d walk. We’d take as much time as we needed, and we’d enjoy a sunny day on a beautiful trail.
We started out running really slowly, as we each tested our legs in the early miles. I also tested my left arm — fortunately it seemed to be quite content to go along for the ride. Soon we settled into a comfortable rhythm, running 0.4 mile and then walking 0.1 mile. We did the first mile in 12:14. Then we reeled off several miles at about 11:45. In the hilly middle section we walked up all the hills but still kept ourselves at just under a 12-minute pace.
By the time we hit mile 8 I was getting a little tired. It was a warm day for this part of the world (mid-60s) and I was starting to feel my lack of training. My friend’s left leg was bothering her a little. Neither of us knew for sure how much we might be able to pick up the pace for the final five miles.
Mile 9 is slightly downhill under big trees to the waterfront. We ran that mile in 11:12, feeling good. When we turned west along the waterfront we were hoping for a cool breeze, but it didn’t happen. My left arm was starting to ache quite a bit. I struggled for the next couple of miles but still managed to maintain the 4/1 run/walk interval.
Approaching mile marker 12 I told my friend that I’d try to run from there to the finish. She was running much stronger than I was at that point, but still loyally staying with me. At 12.5 miles I knew I was going to need just one more walk break. Then I gave it everything I still had left, completing mile 13 in 10:47. At that point I told my friend to go ahead. She finished 12 seconds ahead of me.
My time was 2:33:40. My pace was 11:44 — much better than the 12:00 that I’d hoped to do! It was good enough to finish 17th out of 54 in my gender/age group. I was 21 minutes slower than my PR, but I did pretty well for one week of training — and I did set a PR for running with a broken arm! While I couldn’t muster a huge kick for the final miles, I did have a negative first/second half split of over 4 minutes.
After we’d both eaten a bit of food, we returned to the finish line area to wait for my friend CFL, who was walking his first half marathon. He power-walked every step of the way, refusing to break into a jog for even a single stride. He finished in a remarkable 3:10:57!
The three of us celebrated in style at Barhop Brewing, where we sat on the sunny patio and enjoyed the two-for-one beer special for race entrants. By the end of the afternoon I had achieved that rarest of things in the Pacific Northwest — a sunburn!
I woke up this morning and realized that my arm didn’t hurt at all. Not one bit! I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to wake up to a pain-free shoulder and arm. Running 13.1 miles seems to have loosened it up a little. I do have sore leg muscles, but nothing remarkable.
All things considered, I’m delighted with my race yesterday. I’m eager to get back to regular running, and to start training toward the half marathon PR that I hope to earn in Victoria this October. CFL is not sure whether he’ll do another one, but he’s open to the possibility. :-)
One step at a time!
Originally posted on Slow Happy Living:
Yesterday, 50 days after I broke my arm, my doctor gave me the okay to start running again. As usual, I walked home from the appointment, taking the long way home via the waterfront trail. I hadn’t walked more than half a mile when I was seized with the desire to run right then and there. It didn’t matter that I was wearing jeans, an old tired pair of shoes, and a warm jacket!
I must have looked silly out there shuffling along dressed like that, like someone trying to run for the very first time. I didn’t care. The first few steps were great! Then my legs suddenly felt like they weighed 500 pounds apiece. Never mind that I have walked, on average, more than 8 miles every day since my injury. I learned yesterday that running and walking use different muscles, and that my running muscles are now seriously out of shape.
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It’s been almost six weeks now since I broke my arm while trail running. At first I thought I’d go nuts, not being able to run or ride my bike. I consoled myself with the thought that surely I’d be running again in time for the North Olympic Discovery half marathon on June 1st. I might no longer have the stamina to keep running for miles on end, but surely I’d be running again… right?
Meanwhile, I’d at least walk every day in order to keep the daily activity streak alive. It was tough at first to motivate myself to walk when my arm hurt and I was feeling sorry for myself for not being able to run. But soon, I’d run and ride again!
I started physical therapy three weeks ago. My therapist almost immediately told me that no, it was not realistic to expect to run on June 1.
So what is realistic? I’m registered for a 5K on June 21. Maybe…
All right, so I won’t run NODM. Fine — I’ll walk it!
At first I figured I could probably sustain a walking pace in the 17 minute range. 17:10 would get me over the finish line in a tick under 3:45:00. Hey, that’s not so bad! I wouldn’t be the last person out on the half marathon course!
I’m currently seeing my physical therapist twice a week. Her office is two miles from my house. I walk to there, then I walk half a mile to the Olympic Discovery Trail, walk east along the trail for a couple of miles depending on how much time I have on that day, then turn around and walk home. That section of trail is never boring. I’m entertained by eagles, river otters, and a wide variety of waterbirds. Time floats by and soon I’ve done ten or more effortless walking miles.
At some point I started paying attention to my pace again. I realized I was doing 16 minute miles. Then it was 15 minute miles. When I found myself walking a few 14 minute miles now and then I began to rethink this whole idea of walking a half marathon. Yesterday I did two of my 8+ total miles in 13:42 each. I was moving so fast I even felt a touch of runner’s high.
As of today I’m thinking that 13.1 miles of rolling hills at just under an average 15 minute walking pace is an entirely realistic goal. That puts me in the 3:15:00 range. I ran my first half marathon in February 2010 in a lightning-fast 3:10:11. I don’t think I can break that, but if conditions on race day are perfect, I just might have a shot at it.
I didn’t used to think of myself as a competitive person. I missed out on several career opportunities over the years due to lack of assertiveness and reticence about my achievements. I abhor and avoid conflict, often to my detriment.
But put me out on a trail with a GPS watch strapped to my wrist and I become very competitive with myself! How fast can I walk up this hill? How long can I sustain this pace? What if I push just a little harder toward the end of this mile?
We’ll see what happens on race day. But just because I have to walk, that doesn’t mean I have to stroll.
Slow and happy? “Slow” is relative, and “happy” is an attitude. I can do this!
My training for the OAT Run trail half marathon has gone really well. I’ve been running lots of hills and getting in plenty of unpaved trail time. I’ve been delighted by how much stronger and faster I’m becoming on hills — I can run a few miles up a steep trail without having to walk or stop! I can really feel the difference in my hill strength as a result of all the hilly runs and bike rides I’ve been doing.
So yesterday I set out to do 11 miles on the Adventure Trail. I had planned that this would be my last really long trail run before the race on 4/26.
There was rain in the forecast that hadn’t happened yet. The rain started right about the time I started running. Mud puddles quickly formed. Eventually large sections of the trail began to resemble a small stream. I slowed down and watched my footing more carefully, but I was feeling great so I kept bounding along.
At 10.3 miles I was congratulating myself on my awesomeness. In that brief lapse of focus I stumbled over a rock and went down hard. I got up slowly, marveling at the mud all over myself. The damage seemed to be limited to a few abrasions on my forearms and knees and a small cut on my chin. But my left shoulder was a bit sore.
I ran the last bit back to the car where my friend, who’d ridden the trail on his bike, was waiting for me. By the time I got home my left shoulder was becoming extremely sore. It was all I could do to get out of my wet, muddy clothes and into the shower.
I had a full range of motion in my left arm, so I didn’t think I’d done anything to warrant a trip to the emergency room. However, during the evening my pain-free range of motion got smaller and smaller. There was no swelling or bruising, but eventually I could barely move my left shoulder at all.
So this morning I went to my doctor’s office, where they immediately sent me to the emergency room. The X-rays revealed a “closed fracture of the left proximal humerus.” It’s a small chip at the very top of my arm bone where it meets the shoulder. You can’t put a cast in that spot, so I’m in a sling. I’ll be in that sling for 4-6 weeks. No running. No bike riding. I’m left handed, so I’m currently typing very slowly with my right hand and wondering how I’m going to feed myself.
I am extremely disappointed to miss the trail race and other upcoming planned activities. But I’m trying to be okay with all of this. I sat in the ER waiting room this morning surrounded by overweight people with weak, tired bodies. I’d much rather injure myself in the pursuit of health and vigor than succumb to diseases of inactivity. I will heal. My knees will appreciate a few weeks of rest. I’ll keep up the daily activity with walks around town.
I’m not superhuman, but I’m strong. I’m stubborn and determined, and I love to run. I’ll look forward to running another NODM half marathon in June!
Gosh, it’s been too long since I last posted here! After my big push to complete 1,000 running miles in 2013, it’s been nice to dial down the intensity just a bit, so there really hasn’t been much running activity to write about.
So far this year I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to simply run — as much or as often as I feel like — with no particular goals in mind. It’s a good time of year to be relatively fallow. January and the first half of February were unusually dry, but very cold. Then in mid-February the rain started, and it essentially hasn’t stopped raining since then. Think I’m exaggerating? In the 37 days since February 10, we’ve had over 8.50 inches of rain (about a third of our annual average), and we’ve had measurable rain on all but 7 of those days.
On a rainy, windy day with the temperature in the mid 40s, I have to talk myself into going out to run. Once I finally get out there, however, it’s usually easier to keep going. Therefore, most of my “casual” runs lately have ended up as 8 to 11 milers. An enduring benefit of my marathon training last year is that I still think of a 9 mile run as sort of a fitness baseline. I can knock it out in an hour and a half, no big deal.
Knowing that, I’ve allowed myself to be casual about training for upcoming spring races. I have no real concerns about my ability to run 13.1 miles on any given day. I’ve racked up over 200 running miles so far this year in this no-stress way.
But suddenly it’s mid-March and my trail half marathon is less than six weeks away! While I know I can go the distance, I have done very little trail running over the past year. I’d like to go out and run the trail on which the race will be held, but due to the stormy weather it has been plagued with downed trees (recently as many as 160 down at one time), to say nothing of mud. I confess… I haven’t run that trail even once this year.
I took this photo during a hike (not a run) on a different trail, but the same principle applies — when a landslide obliterates the trail, it’s a good idea to turn around. It’s hard to tell the scale from the image, but this slide was over 20 feet across.
Until conditions improve on my race trail, I’m improvising a training plan. I’m focusing on running hills, and throwing in bits and piece of local off-pavement trails whenever I can. Fortunately my immediate neighborhood is very hilly, so I don’t have to go far to do that sort of training. The other day I ran almost three miles straight up the road from my house, climbing over 850 feet, and then dove into the forest to return via a trail that was not TOO muddy. Now my plan is to adopt that route as one of my regular weekly runs, adding to the mileage and incorporating more of the trail as I go. Eventually I’ll get out there on that race trail — for sure I’ll get out there on race day!
So I’m optimistic about my upcoming race, and not stressing out about it — much. It’s my first trail half marathon, so it’s a guaranteed PR, right? I know I’ll be a couple of minutes per mile slower on dirt/mud/rocks/roots than I am on pavement. So I expect to amble in somewhere around the 2:45 mark, stuffed chock-full of wonderful endorphins. Then I’ll hoist my post-race beer with heartiness and glee.
What could possibly go wrong?
One step at a time!