a half-marathon anti-training program
on sunday, i’ll run my third half-marathon to celebrate my mom’s birthday (st. patti’s day 😉 ). for the past two years, i have participated in the strides of march around lake stanley draper in okc, and this year i finally get to do the A2A race in my childhood hometown. my dad and i have twice run the A2A 5k in honor of my mom, but i’ve always wanted to try the longer distance that winds down through the arbuckle foothills. with our relocation to ardmore, the timing seemed perfect. i’m ready for another installment in this particular thread of my story.
my first half-marathon went splendidly. in fact, it went so well in spite of my minimal preparation, early pregnancy, and little rest the day/night before, that i fear it made me a bit dismissive of my physical limitations. my second half-marathon fell five months after my son’s birth, and even though i knew i had not properly trained, i made the mistake of blindly trusting my body’s resilience without considering the science behind athletic performance. let’s just say that i didn’t finish strong.
i have been blessed with consistent health and energy for most of my life, and i naively underestimated aging and hormones in my expectations. i’ve also had a hard time considering myself a “real runner,” and so it didn’t occur to me to to learn about fueling strategy or sport-specific gear. i was so uninformed as a runner that i didn’t even know there is a term for what happened to me at the end of last year’s race. what i described as my body giving up is what seasoned runners call “bonking.” even most rookie racers know about the dreaded bonk.
it is quite uncharacteristic of me to neglect extensive research on anything i do, so i decided to remedy that by preparing for this year’s physical event with a very trisha-istic training plan: READ! i looked at articles on everything from when to eat before and during a race and what it really means to carbo-load, to why a woman’s hormones affect energy expenditure and how breastfeeding impacts glycogen stores. i listened to podcasts from experts and watched videos by professionals. i ordered anti-blister socks and a high-tech running top after reading tons of amazon reviews.
what i haven’t done is run a lot.
now, before you scold me for continuing to foolishly register for races without conditioning with an intentional running schedule, let me defend myself with the lamest excuse ever — i hate long runs. i know, it seems silly. but i can hardly tolerate the prolonged jog when all i can think about is my growing to-do list and how i’m bored and burning up time. race-day atmosphere is completely different with the excitement and adrenaline and companionship of other runners to keep me interested. i also hate running several days a week. my personality craves variety, and i rarely want to run more than once per week. (i have more excuses that involve baby and busyness and barometric pressure, but i’ll spare you those.)
so, no judging. i’m the one that’s putting my burning lungs and legs on the line ;). and for those who’d like to reassure me that it’s okay to walk for a bit if needed, let me introduce you to my competitive side. my brain will undoubtedly equate walking with quitting. (for me, for ME! all you half-marathon walk-run warriors are champs, seriously–13.1 is no joke.)
but the challenge of this new march tradition is something that is an essential component for me. yes, i appreciate the motivation to be active and the sense of accomplishment and the camaraderie of other racers, but the real reason i stretch myself is to pay tribute to the heroic courage and perseverance of my mother throughout her battle with cancer. maybe that is partially why i commit to long-distance running even though i know it will be a bit of a struggle. an event that
inspires me to push through the discomfort and dig deep for more strength and endurance is the most fitting way i can think of to honor my mother’s enormous stamina and fortitude through her own exhausting challenge.
so that brings us to this year’s half-marathon. i wanted to preface 2014’s race with some relevant context and reflect on how my approach toward half-marathoning has evolved, because my one word for this year is all about revealing the story that connects the pieces of my life.