How Long’s It Been?
Hey there! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
A whole lot has happened in the 11 months since I last posted on this blog. There have been some serious ups and downs — in running and in life. So much was happening that running kind of went to the back burner, as did this blog.
But this morning I spontaneously decided to return to this blog for the first time in months. Waves of nostalgia and pride washed over me as I re-read my posts about the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon. It was my first 26.2, and now I’m about to start training for my second — the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27! It occurred to me that I would want some sort of log of my training, both to hold me accountable and to give me something to read over and reflect on after the race is over. After all, the joy of a marathon is as much in the countless hours of effort put in BEFORE race day as it is about the finish line and the medal.
So anyway, now I’m back, ready to start recording my second journey to 26.2 miles. Even though the race isn’t til October, I’m following a 19 week training plan, which actually starts pretty soon (in about a month!). I’ll talk about that in my next post, but for now, here’s a quick recap of the past 11 months:
June through August: I spent last summer studying Arabic at the University of Alexandria in Egypt! It was a totally overwhelming, exhilarating, unimaginably challenging experience involving lots of fun, lots of hard work and LOTS of sweating, but unfortunately not of the work-out variety. In many ways Egypt is a pretty modern country, but social freedom for women is not really one of those ways. Shorts and a tank top were absolute no-nos, and there wasn’t any way I was going to try running in long sleeves and yoga pants in a city with 100+ degree weather and terrible air quality. Luckily, I was able to get in a decent amount of swimming at the local athletic club (where bathing suits, thankfully, were allowed!) so my muscles didn’t turn entirely to mush. And in the end, the experience was well-worth the hiatus from running.
September: A slow return to running was topped off by the chance to pace one of my good running buddies to a half marathon PR at the Abebe Bikila half marathon. It’s a gorgeous (FLAT!) race along the C&O Canal Path in D.C. I’m actually hoping to achieve my own PR there this fall — but that’s a story for another post.
October: No races on the agenda, but I did run/spectate the Marine Corps Marathon to cheer for two of my great friends (Ka- and Ke-, who ran with me during my own marathon). I wound up being able to see them at 4 different spots along the race course and ran alongside them for a total of about 16 miles, including running the last 8 miles of the course with Ka-. It’s the second time I’ve run that section of the Marine Corps course, because I helped pace a different friend to her first marathon finish the year before. It’s such a great race, and running with Ka- made me absolutely certain that I wanted to be racing myself next year. So I am!
November and December: The Marine Corps Marathon was pretty much the high point of my fall running — after that all kinds of athleticism basically took a nose dive. I got super busy with school and the newspaper and also had to deal with some life drama that left me dreading nothing more than a long run alone with my thoughts. It was probably the first time since I’ve started running that I’ve ever had such a serious case of the “I don’t want to run”s. I just didn’t have the motivation, and since I was so busy, it was easy to let working out fall by the wayside.
January through April: Luckily, things changed in a BIG way in January. I’d gotten my dream internship at a radio show and wound up deciding to take a semester off from school to work there full time. Suddenly my schedule had changed from late nights, afternoon runs and weekends in the library to having a 9 to 6 job and my weekends totally free! The change in schedule, plus a planned half marathon with my mom in May, put some mojo back into my running, though the fact that I hadn’t been running consistently since last May meant that I was a lot slower than I used to be. In March, I ran the Marine Corps 17.75K, which meant I got guaranteed entry to the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. A lucky thing, since the race wound up selling out in under 3 hours! The 17.75K (about 11 miles, for those who don’t want to do the math) was fun but INSANELY hilly. The downhills were so intense I even got shin splints, a problem I haven’t had since I first started running!
Mile 6 of the Pittsburgh Half. Why do I look so happy?
May: My mom and I ran the Pittsburgh Half together last weekend, and I feel like that race finally put the spark back in my running. I didn’t really train at all for this race and I wasn’t too pleased by my time (1:59:48) — though I guess I got what I deserved for not training. But the race was fun and the crowds were amazing, and that feeling of finishing was the best in the world. The race ended on a big downhill and you could see the finish line from about half a mile away. I knew that I’d have to book it the last mile in order to squeak in under 2 hours, so I summoned all my willpower to sprint towards the finish. I’d been losing energy pretty quickly for the last four miles or so of the race, and I remember being shocked by that unexpected kick I’d had in reserve. The last half mile of that race reminded me what I’ve always loved about running: how it show that you can do so much more than you’d expected, that you’re always stronger than you think, and that your body is exactly as strong as your mind allows it to be. That finish left me loving running again, but also hungry for another shot at a half marathon — hopefully one that I could PR in.
In case future me is interested (or needs some motivation to actually train for her races), here are the splits from the race:
“Half marathon splits,” or, “How to positive split like a pro”
I was hoping for a sub 9min/mile pace and just missed it — but look at the split for the last .23 miles! (Side note: I stink at running the tangents! I don’t think I’ve ever run less than .10 mile more than the actual race distance) 6:59 min/mile is faster than my 5K pace — I probably shouldn’t have been running that at the end of a half marathon. Either its a sign that I could have been going faster earlier in the race (maybe during some of those 9:30 miles!) or just a result of the crazy downhill that the race ended on.
Nothing like a 100-foot elevation loss over the course of a mile to speed things up a bit!
Alright, I think that’s enough of a recap for now. Happy Thursday!