My Best Worst Race

Posted by Filed Under: Running is Funny

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 Select one (1) post per week from your blog and e-mail the permalink to Links to the best and funniest will be posted for all to enjoy each week. Act now! The first carnival launches next week!

About Mike Antonucci

I ran 6-minute miles when I was in the military, then tapered for 20 years. Two-time marathoner (3:43 PR), my next goal is to stay healthy enough to run another. There are literally thousands of people handing out running advice and serious tips. I prefer to focus on the humorous or odd facets of our shared obsession. Let's face it, running is funny.

  1. SCRAPS on October 3rd at 4:57 am

    Totally with you on this! I am feeling under-prepared for my first half tomorrow but my only goal is to get a finisher medal! It’s going to be a blast!

  2. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on October 3rd at 9:40 am

    I’ve had some similar experiences, and there are definitely times when you just want to be out enjoying yourself, be it a race or a training run (or a training run that happens to be amongst a lot of other people wearing bib numbers and getting support every mile or two…)

    Blaine Moore (Run to Win)s last blog post..Want to give back? The Maine Marathon needs your help…

  3. dashaver on December 2nd at 4:45 pm

    Sometimes it seems that the more I prepare for a specific race, goes and run that distance and some hills what ever, the worse I do in that race. So quit preparing for certain races and now I do better at them? Maybe it has to do with getting my hopes up for a PR.

    dashavers last blog post..Running Journal Tuesday, December 02, 2008