I hadn’t run once since last year’s marathon. In spite of the changes they made to the course, I still wanted to stay involved in the event, so I devised a simple 10-day half marathon training program and followed it to the letter.
Day 10: Even though you haven’t run once in almost a year, tonight’s a good night to get that 6.6 miler under your belt. You can stretch a little before hand, but not too much; all stretching will do is make this easier and less painful. Also, make sure the last mile is done in complete darkness through the woods around Dorrs Pond. There’s nothing like the unshakable thought of being abducted or worse to keep you motivated!
Day 9: Rest. Get a haircut. Definitely drink some beer today.
Day 8: Hit the gym for an hour, then pile on several hours of tedious yard work. Sure, you’re still extremely sore from that run, and probably even more so now, but that’s nothing that beer can’t solve. Have some more.
Day 7: Today is an excellent day for some really hard mountain biking; preferably something extremely technical. If it could also be very slippery and dangerous, that would be ideal. Best case would be that you end up in the emergency room at the end of the ride. Don’t drink beer today, just in case that lingering feeling in your brain turns out to be a concussion.
Day 6: Less than a week to go, and since it’s only a mild concussion, one beer won’t hurt you.
Day 5: Did someone say beer? Somebody somewhere did!
Day 4: Make a special trip to the wholesale beverage store today. You’ve earned it.
Day 3: With three days before the half marathon, this is an ideal day for your second run of the year. Since the event is only days away, go easy today and save your energy. Run a hilly 3.3 miler and really push yourself to the limit. If it’s a cold, organ-numbing 39 degree nighttime run, defrost yourself with a couple of brews.
Day 2: You haven’t actually registered for the race yet, so today is an excellent day for introspection. Should you do this? Do you really want to do this? To be honest, you’re not sure. What you should do next is drink some beer, eat half a pizza, and then go register.
Day 1: The day before the event. You’re committed now; you’re all in. Tomorrow will be a huge mental and physical effort, so it’s time to rest your body and take it easy. Grab your singlespeed and head up north! You haven’t been on this bike in months, so today is a terrific opportunity to belt out a good 37 miles of mostly climbing in the freezing cold, working at near maximal effort. Recharge with as much food as you can stuff your face with, but lay off the beer today; you’ll just end up falling asleep before you can enjoy it.
Day 0: Oh sh*t!
It was so damn cold. Probably in the 20s at the start with the wind chill. It was so cold that by mile 0.5 I ran out of the pack and beelined for a building on Commercial Street which I promptly urinated on. No sense in using any energy to keep wastewater warm.
Miles 1 and 2 I had no interest in being out here. Did not want to do it.
Miles 3 and 4 I started to settle down and while it was still freezing cold, mentally I was starting to loosen up and feel okay.
Miles 5 and 6 I was already having thoughts about not being able to finish. If I hadn’t been able to convince myself to eat a gel somewhere in here, it would have been all over. I had no real eating strategy, and that was a bad idea.
Miles 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 took a really long time to get through, even though I felt like I was giving a lot more effort. That’s what caffeine will do for you.
Mile 11 I was just waiting for mile 12.
At the mile 12 marker I kicked it in and did an 8:18 and hauled ass to the finish. Up until that point I had consistently run 10:00-10:30’s. I knew it would be over and just wanted to be done. Someone near the finish said I looked like I had just run 2 miles. My body felt more like it had been 20.
The entire run, all I could keep thinking about was how I did all 26.2 miles last year, and how happy I was not to have to do that this year. I have no idea how that was even possible.
I ran very conservatively, because I wanted to finish. I have never actually run this distance, so I had no idea how to pace. But who cares. 2:15 is respectable. Hell, finishing is respectable.
I wasn’t sure if I could actually do this. I think that’s why I entered. I wrote “YOU CAN” on my forearm in Sharpie before I left the house. From mile 7 onward, I looked at it regularly. Mile 7 is also where I took off my long sleeved shirt. If I were able to do so, I probably would have been staring at it from mile 1.
I leave you with this parting image at mile 7, courtesy of Andy: