This weekend I am going to run further than I have ever run. At least, I hope I am. I signed up for my first half marathon. I began running almost three years ago, and within several months of starting, I had run my first 10k. I’d accomplished my goal, so I backed off and spent the next couple years doing three mile runs a few times a week.
This year I set out to increase my runs to four and five miles, and then one Saturday, I pushed it to seven. Seven turned into eight, the following week, and then it turned into ten the next week.
Since I began running, I always thought about trying a half marathon, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I looked into a training program with one of the local running clubs, but I wasn’t sure if running with a group would be my thing. I thought about inviting one of the local runners in the neighborhood out to coffee to get some ideas on how to train for a half, but I never followed through. I have looked up training plans on the internet and for about six weeks I have been charting my weekly runs, increasing my runs with a long run each week and increasing my overall weekly totals.
I think I could benefit from more training, but I would also like to do my run before the spring temperatures get too hot. I hadn’t told anybody about my plans, but the kids started figuring it out, and they began telling my husband that I was going on eight, nine and ten mile runs, and he began asking questions. I like to give a new idea time to grow before it sees the light of day, and I think talking about something usually deters from doing it. When I signed up for the half marathon, I finally had to spill the beans, though, because I have some fears about how wobbly I’m going to be and whether I will want to drive home, so now the whole family knows.
I have a few concerns about the half marathon. My biggest concern is how absolutely slow I run. During a 10k race, I average about 11:25 a mile. During my longest training runs, that has slowed even further, to 12 minutes a mile, and on my longest run, it averaged 13 minutes a mile. Granted, during that run, I stopped twice for water, with one stop actually involving going into a bar and asking for water! Also, there are a lot of big hills where I train. So, it’s possible my times will be a bit faster on race day, but I’m not counting on it.
Another concern I have is how my back will hold up. When I was pregnant with triplets, the rapid weight gain and position of the three babies caused my back to go out several times, and I have had problems with my back ever since. There are activities I can no longer do, mostly things that involve heavy lifting and bending. If I do bend or lift the wrong way, I begin to have back spasms that have, over the years since I was pregnant, kept me from being able to walk for several days. All that being said, running has never brought on back spasms (although riding wooden rollercoasters has!). Part of what I was trying to test during the past month’s longer runs was whether my back would be impacted, and it has held up perfectly.
Those are two of my valid concerns. I also have a whole host of paranoid concerns. I imagine things like twisting an ankle, or throwing up. I began to get nervous that I won’t be able to finish, so Tuesday I went out and did 12.25 miles, just to prove to myself I can finish 13.1. While I have seen training plans that include a long run a week before race day, it probably wasn’t very smart to attempt one that long on the Tuesday before race weekend. I wanted to test out drinking more water, though, and I wanted to try out all the specific clothes that I would be wearing and check everything for chafing. As it turned out, I came back with three blisters. I looked it up my training book and determined it was best to pop them with a needle, which I did, and they have healed nicely! I am also getting my first black toe nail, which I understand from my research is a badge of running honor.
I hope this weekend I am not too embarrassingly slow. I hope I can finish and nothing goes wrong. I hope that I have fun. Running for 2.5 hours without stopping is a long time, but I enjoy listening to my music and an occasional podcast and looking at the scenery. I like thinking back to what my body was when I was pregnant—how my ankles swelled so badly that no shoes would fit, how the doctors gave me multiple blood transfusions to stem the HELP syndrome I’d developed, how I cried at the mall one time because the bathroom was too far away, and how I was only allowed to walk up the stairs in our house once a day. I hope I can accomplish this.