Traversing long distances, slowly

A few months after college graduation in 2005 I started contemplating running my first half marathon, but by 2007, I was content to simply complete a 5K. I finished the Couch to 5K program (sort of) but did not actually run a race.

In the intervening time I’ve occasionally fallen into and out of running, completing a few 5Ks and a few runnings of the Manchester Road Race, but never anything more ambitious.

Winter 2014-2015 was intense, with massive snowfalls, frequently impassable roads, and a lot of dreary days stuck indoors. By the time things warmed up in early March, I was stir crazy and ready to hit the road again. I pulled out my running shoes and took a few short runs, which felt really good. A few factors in particular were helping me to push harder and further than I had before:

  • The timing was right, with the days beginning to get longer and lighter
  • My new job had a shorter commute, meaning I could run in the mornings and still get into work on time
  • The weather was cool and mild
  • Our new pup was grown up and bursting with energy

Salty and I hit our stride in April, with 12 runs totaling 38 miles.  By the end of that month I was resolved: this would be the year — ten years after I first contemplated it — that I would run a half marathon. I signed up for an October race, and kept on running.

In May I took fewer runs but upped my distance, with the dog accompanying me on many of my outings.  I kept it up as the weather got warmer in June, starting a 12 week training program in July and peaking at 76 miles in August.  I bought some new running clothes and picked up a goofy “hydration belt”.  I got some expensive “minimalist” running shoes. I started trying out the gelatinous food pellets that runners gobble on long runs (yuck!).  I explored every nook and cranny of Hull, finding ways to fit 8, 9, and 10 mile runs into a narrow 2.8 square mile peninsula.

Along the way a few people offered invaluable support, tips, and encouragement, which helped me keep going.

I made a playlist.  I ran the race.  I beat my 11 minute/mile goal.  I got a medal.  I did it!

But I didn’t write a blog post.  Because I was worried that the story would end there.  Winter came around again, and as expected I barely ran at all in January and February.  In March I picked it back up, but it did not feel as good.  I couldn’t go very far, or very fast, and things hurt — my feet, my legs, my back.  It was hard to make the effort.

Luckily, I had anticipated this, and had wisely (or foolishly) signed up in December for another half marathon in June. Not only that, I had convinced friends and family to sign up as well.  So I was committed. And I kept running, even if I wasn’t feeling it.

The race is tomorrow, and I don’t think I will achieve a new personal record. But I expect I’ll finish.  And looking back through my run stats, I feel a lot better about my progress.  Compared to this time last year, I have run substantially more miles.  It’s June, not October, so I don’t have as many months of build-up, but I’ve done 11 and 12 mile distances successfully.  And the weather this year was much less enjoyable to run in, freezing cold and raining through much of March.  Even still, I made it through my 12 week training, and I’m feeling less achy, and I’m confident I can keep it up.

The story isn’t over after all.  I guess I had better sign up for my next half marathon– and start striving for a new personal record!

One reply on “Traversing long distances, slowly”

  1. Or sign up to run a full! Love your commitment, I hope you realize you motivate and inspire those around you, present company included 🙂

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