Before the 100 mile race that wasn’t, I signed up for a half-marathon at the end of May. Perhaps I’m a little bit of a bipolar runner. I haven’t run a half-marathon in three years, and I wanted to see how fast I can run one now. And, let’s be honest, the registration for the race was cheap, and I’m cheap, so that’s probably the real reason why I signed up.
I don’t race very often at all, especially considering how much I talk about running (not that you need to race to be a runner, but the two seem to go hand in hand). If you were to see my Athlinks.com profile, it’s a bizarre mix of a handful of races since 2009 – one 5k, one 10k trail race, two half-marathons, two marathons, two trail 50k’s (even though it’s the same race, just double posted), and a 100 miler. I’ve done a couple of other small 5k’s that haven’t showed up on Athlinks, and one bike race last year, but it’s a pretty accurate representation of how little I race.
Because I toe the starting line so infrequently, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself when I do race. And, to be honest, the last few major races didn’t go so well for me. In May 2010, I got stomach cramps about seven miles into a half-marathon, and missed my goal (sub 90 minutes) by less than 120 seconds. In October 2010, I got the same stomach cramps, but much worse, at mile 20 of a marathon and had to walk the last four or five miles, missing my goal (sub 3:10) by almost 20 minutes. I have since discovered that I have a mild gluten intolerance, and I can’t do bread right before a race, so hopefully I won’t have that problem again. Since then, I haven’t run a road race longer than a 5k.
I already have a time goal in my head for this half, but I don’t want to disappoint myself again. I picked out a training plan, which technically started yesterday so I really need to get back in the groove. I haven’t followed a training plan since the marathon in 2010, and I’m not sure how well I’ll react to having structure in my running life again.
I’ve got two other races in September that I’m looking forward to. My company participates in the local ‘Corporate Challenge,’ an olympics-style series of races and events. Last year I did the 5k run and the 15k team time trial cycling race. I finished 4th overall in the 5k (18:45), which I can’t complain about given the amount of speedwork training that I did leading up to the race (which was zero). I would like to get back down to my 5k PR time (just under 18 minutes) at this years race. And although I surprised myself at the cycling race, and was able to hold my own with my teammates, I’d like to knock at least 90 seconds off of my time. I think that is a manageable goal, given that my new bike is significantly lighter, I’ve been riding more, and last year’s ride was the first (and only) time that I had ever ridden in a paceline (I may or may not have lied about my paceline experience before the race – I was very thankful I didn’t take down the pack!)
I’m still debating whether or not I want to tackle a marathon later this year. I may wait and see how the half-marathon goes, and then decide. I feel like I have some unfinished business with the marathon distance.
So, that’s my plan for the year (subject to drastic change, as usually happens).