If you follow my blog regularly, you know that one of my goals for 2012 is to run a half marathon. I registered for the Ann Arbor Champions for Charity event in June. I have never run anything more than a 5k and although my first race of this year was one of my fastest, I am still a pretty green runner. On average, I only run an eleven and a half minute mile. I also rarely run outside even though this has been an unseasonably warm winter in Michigan.
Maybe my treadmill is a crutch or maybe it is just awesome. It has an extra long, cushioned deck and one of the easiest dashboards to manipulate. It has become an integral part of my weekly routine.I also can’t do anything without a book. My shelves are lined with self-help literature from weight loss to aging, from parenting to marriage, from Hypothyroidism to Acid Reflux, from ADHD to OCD, from writing help to publishing. You name it, I probably have a book for that. So of course, I had to run out and buy a book about how to train for a half marathon. I chose The Complete 26-week Training Program for Marathon and Half Marathon by Marnie Caron. It is an incredibly helpful book for a beginner and uses the approach of interval training versus full-out running. It has proven to be a good way to work up to longer distances. Intervals help the body run at its fullest potential for short bursts, working its way up to longer and longer intervals.
Sore muscles and tired limbs I expected. But it has required a lot more patience and discipline than I had anticipated. The first few weeks seemed effortless, almost unnecessary. I wanted to push past the “required” workout, tack on miles until I couldn’t take another step. Instead, I refrained, stuck to the schedule but worked my hardest at whatever distance was given. My goal was to be consistent. When I first told DW I was going to train for this half marathon he just smirked, but as the weeks have rolled by, and I update him on my progress, he has started to become my biggest supporter. Last week was one of my longest runs at 6 miles. I ran it at a 5 to 1 interval. It took me 1 hour and almost 11 minutes to finish, averaging 11:48 per mile. Even as cool as my basement is, I was dripping with sweat by the end. My breathing was hard and deliberate. But, I felt like I could have gone at least one more mile. DW’s eyes widened as I stepped into the family room, gulping water.
“I am so proud of you,” he said smiling.
Sunday’s run seemed more labored than usual. I completed 4 miles in 46 minutes. It was another interval run averaging 11:30 a mile, nothing unusual and yet I felt more tired and drained than I had since I started training. Thankfully Monday was a scheduled rest day but by Tuesday I had a terrible headache, waking up in the middle of the night with excruciating sinus pressure and chest pain. I was lethargic and without a voice by Wednesday morning. The rest of the week has been a blur, days of ice cream, Theraflu and bed rest. The Hare stayed home on Thursday with the same ailments and we watched episodes of Chopped in my bed most of the day. I have drunk my weight in water and consumed more carbs in three days than I have in the last three months. I feel bloated, limp. Today is markedly better than yesterday, but still not 100%.
This feels like a major setback. I didn’t complete several runs for the week, and although there is still 111 days until race day I worry.
Can I still make it?
Will I have to start over?
The Hare had a private coaching session this morning. Even though we are more than half way through our season, she wanted some extra help pinpointing some of the things she needed to work on to finish the year strong. Sometimes I just think she isn’t paying enough attention, other times I think she doesn’t want it bad enough. But then her coach came out and said,
“She is doing great – it just takes time for her body to remember its shape. Eventually she will be able to close her eyes and perform by feel and not by sight.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at myself in that moment. Memories of hours and hours stuck in practice rooms rehearsing oboe solos until my fingers were numb came back to me. It took time, but eventually my fingers remembered where they were supposed to go and I could play with my eyes closed. There are so many things in life that are kind of like that: relationships, parenting, marriage and even personal growth. We go about our days repeating what seems like menial tasks until eventually we don’t have to think about them anymore, we just do them. Like asking our spouse if they need us to do anything for them today or reminding our kids that we love them before they go off to school.
And my body just needs to be reminded what it feels like to put one foot in front of the other.
It needs to find its shape.