I DID IT!
It’s hard to believe that after reaching an all-time blob at the end of the summer I whipped it into shape and completed the Austin Half Marathon. During the 2 hours and 24 minutes it took me to run the race, I spent a good deal of time thinking about the road that led me here and what I’d learned. What HAD I learned?
LESSON 1: It. Can. Be. Done.
As I ran past plenty of running coaches holding signs reading “Trust Your Training,” I thought a lot about how I trained myself. Should I have sought more coaching? Could I have done better if I’d had more than just my own half-baked plan in place? There will always be questions and doubts like these. In the end, though, I marveled at the fact that someone could go it alone and make it through a race like this. It. Can. Be. Done. Starting at the start with just a measly 5K Everyday, and increasing my mileage month by month I did it!
LESSON 2: Don’t Be Timid.
In the weeks leading up to the race, I spent an inordinate amount of time poring over running blogs, Facebook posts, and Tweets full of tips for first-timers. Hydrate more (I didn’t); stretch more (I didn’t); sleep better (I didn’t); don’t start too fast (Wait, what?). That last one, about not starting too fast, that really got to me more than any other pointer. Knowing that the race course included a looooong 3 mile uphill, and a vicious sharp uphill right at the end, I was terrified of starting out too fast on the race and finding myself at mile 10 with nothing left to give. I tucked that piece of advice into my brain’s back pocket, and rolled it around back there for weeks leading up to the race. Even on my long training runs I would think, “Now, you’re cruising here, but it won’t be like this on Race Day. You’ll have to be careful not to go out too fast.”
On race day I arrived at the start (then walked about a quarter-mile behind the start where the slow-pokes line up). While I waited, and waited, and waited for it to finally be time for the Molasses Division to step up to the start line, a was awash in a sea of adrenaline. All the vets were grinning at all the first-timers. All the first-timers were hopping in place. Everyone was jogging everywhere. Jogging from the port-a-john to the grass for a quick hamstring stretch, then jogging to the line to make sure it hadn’t moved (it hadn’t), then jogging back to the port-a-john (these must be the people who hydrate). All I could think was “Don’t go out too fast.” Well, that and, “Everyone, enough already with the jogging to places! There will be plenty of time for that.“
When it was, at long last, my turn to start running, I felt great. So excited, so energized. And the mantra was pounding: Not. Too. Fast. breathe. Not. Too. Fast. breath. I cruised up that loooong hill past most of the other Molasses Division runners who clearly hadn’t trained on The Matterhorn like I had. Even once I reached Mile 12, where my friends and family had formed the most awesome cheering section on the route (that’s right, cowbell.), I felt fine. Someone even said I “looked strong,” which, frankly, I had never in my life heard before. Sideshow Blob said it looked like I could have easily gone another 5 miles. And the weirdest part: I could have.
I absolutely could have run another 5 miles. When I approached the finish, aside from feeling oddly emotional (Chariots of Fire style), I felt disappointed. My time was nearly 15 min longer than my goal of 2 hours 10 minutes. Even though everyone around me in the crush of runners awaiting finisher’s medals and t-shirts said their times were a solid 10 min longer due, according to them, to the terrible humidity, I still felt slighted. I had undersold myself. I could have gone faster.
LESSON 3: If at first you don’t succeed, try and “tri” again.
So, naturally, learning from Lesson 2, I have no choice but to run another 13.1 as soon as I possibly can. Never in my wildest goal-setting fantasies did I envision running two half marathons this spring. BUT – I’m already trained, and I want that 2:10! I’ll be running the Zooma Half Marathon on April 16, 2011. Of course it won’t be identical to the Austin Half Marathon: It’ll be hotter, It could be flatter, and I’ll be faster!
Also, as you may have read on the March 2011 Bloblessness Project Goal Page, I’m signing up for the CapTexTri – MY FIRST TRIATHLON! I’m taking the March mantra very seriously . . . .