This time last year, I was basking in the glow of my first four mile race in the Fort 4 Fitness 2012. I had finally done it, a full four miles! I was riding high thinking I was a total bad ass, and already planning to beat my time next year. Of course, I thought I could conquer the world and I made the comment aloud, "Hey I think I might try the Half Marathon next year." Time went on and I still thought I could do it. January came and I signed April up for the 4 mile (after her approval) and I signed myself up for the Half Marathon. My first one. I was confident that I could do it and I continued to think that way for several more weeks.
I continued to run 5K distances until May when I started increasing the distance according to my training plan. My plan was to stay with 5k weekday runs, and a weekend run increasing every week by a half of a mile on a slower long run. I stayed pretty true to the training plan until I had an issue when I reached eight miles on the longer runs. I started feeling pain in my right knee when I reached a certain distance and it really broke my confidence. Turns out that the knee pain was because of my IT band. It wasn't that the pain was enough to force me to stop running, but it really shook my confidence. I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to reach 13 miles.
I shared my thoughts with Alex, seen below in the street photo with me, and he ended up providing some motivation & encouragement which was enough to keep me on task. After that I continued on with the training plan and eventually the time came for our test run of the F4F route two weeks before the actual race.
Our trial run was successful, although a bit slow. My knee started doing the same old thing and we had to walk several times to stretch out my leg and recover a bit. We ended up with a 2 hour and 44 minute run of the 13.1 miles. It wasn't a speedy run, but it definitely helped settle some of the nerves for the actual run coming up.
My leg was really tight after our trial run, so after that I had to keep stretching to help keep the muscles loose and pain-free. I had a 5K run in Bluffton the weekend before F4F and was pretty excited that I had set a personal best in a 5K by finishing in 27:01 and broke a 9 minute mile. Pretty good for a 43-year-old that didn't run further than the fridge a couple of years ago. After that I had my spirits high as I went into the race this past Saturday.
Fort 4 Fitness came and I bid April good luck on her 4 mile race at 7:30am. I went and found Alex in our coral getting ready to start at 8:00am. We set off with a pretty decent pace and much quicker than my longer training runs had been. I had been running 11:15 to 11:45 minute miles on the training runs and we were in the high 9 minute and low ten minute miles for the first eight miles. I wasn't sure that we could handle that pace the rest of the distance.
I was right. We started hitting some hills once the route took us into the housing editions and we ended up needing to slow down at a water station. Before we had set out, we were looking at the pace leaders and I committed to staying in front of the 2 hour 30 minute pace leaders but would like to stay closer to the 2:20 point. As we started walking at one of the water stations, we heard the 2:20 pace team coming up behind us and it gave me just the motivation to step it up. I continued to try and stay in front of them the rest of the race. However, at one point I look over to say something to Alex and could not find him. I later found out that he had started walking at the last water station and I had continued to go on without him. A few short miles later, I was able to finish the race in 2 hours and 18 minutes, a full 26 minutes faster then our trial run, and I succeeded in staying in front of my objective of 2:20.
I'm happy with the results and still riding high on the finish. I've already been looking at when the next half marathon that I can run in as well as looking at other 5Ks that I can squeeze in for the remainder of the year. As for my knee and my IT band, it did start to bother me during the half, but I ended up rubbing in some biofreeze around the 6 mile point. That was an experience in itself trying to apply that in mid-stride but it was enough to carry me through the entire race. I'm on a self-imposed running break for two weeks to let the IT band heal up before I start running again. I'm planning on trying a 3 mile run next weekend to see if it is healed before I put any further distance on my legs.
However, I know that I will do the half marathon again next September for Fort 4 Fitness 2014, and maybe the Indy Mini-Marathon in early May 2014 for the kick off of the Indy 500 celebrations.
I'm pretty happy with how things turned out this year and hope to be able to set a new personal record next year - maybe 2:10? Who knows at this point.
Here are some photos of April during her 4 Mile Run/Walk, but I will let her tell that story another time.