I took a short break from writing about running because I had to take a short break from running. For the second year in a row, my marathon training and Boston aspirations were sidelined by peroneal tendonitis.
I was pretty bummed about it, especially because my wife and I planned a week’s vacation around the Maui Half Marathon. OK, so we were still going to enjoy the sun, sand and surf, but there was a bit of a letdown.
I brought my running gear with me in the hope I could get a couple of miles in, but the race was definitely out—until Wednesday night. For some insane reason, I decided I desperately wanted my finisher’s t-shirt and medal. My leg was coming around, and the only thing holding me back was that I was woefully unprepared to go 13.1 miles.
I laid my plan before the lovely Mrs. A. and, God bless her, she didn’t go through the obvious list of reasons why it was a really bad idea. Instead, she encouraged me to go ahead, as long as I was careful.
Don’t try this at home, but here is my five-week half-marathon training program:
Week 1: Run one day for 7 miles
Week 2: Run three days, 2, 3 and 4 miles, for a total of 9 miles
Week 3: Run one day for 4 miles
Week 4: Run one day for 2 miles
Week 5: Run 4 miles on Thursday and 4 miles on Friday, run half-marathon on Sunday
The race began promptly at 5:30 a.m., to avoid the worst of the tropical heat, but it was still in the mid-70s at the start. I began at the absolute back of the pack, to avoid any temptation to go out too fast. And for the first time in a long time, I ran a race completely anxiety-free. It’s actually liberating to know you’re going to run a lousy time. I waved to the crowd and the volunteers. I admired the gorgeous scenery. I joked with other runners.
It was great.
Considering my lack of training, I figured I would be fortunate to run to the halfway mark, and I would walk/jog the way back. But I reached the turnaround point in good spirits and with no discomfort, so I kept going.
The heat was beginning to take its toll, however. I ran to mile 10 in 1:40, walked for a mile while slathering myself with ice-cold sponges, and resumed a slow trot.
The last two miles were eye-opening for me, since most runners around me were really struggling, including the guy just in front of me who spewed a geyser of Gatorade. I, on the other hand, was having a blast. I “sprinted” the last half-mile and finished in 2:17:35 – my worst half-marathon by 13 seconds.
It occurred to me at the finish that the appeal of distance running is doing something you can’t even picture yourself doing. And while I know I’m capable of much better, I was just as happy with that 2:17 as I would have been with a 1:39.
Don’t wait for an injury to try a race for fun. You can hammer a fast pace the other 364 days.
Hey everyone! I’m reviving the Carnival of Running at RunningIsFunny.com. Select one (1) post per week from your blog and e-mail the permalink to email@example.com. Links to the best and funniest will be posted for all to enjoy each week. Act now! The first carnival launches next week!