Monday, December 25, 2006
My Journey to Become a Runner - Part 2 - The Half Marathon
After completing the 5K, a friend of mine asked me if a marathon was next. Now the difference between a 5K and a marathon is rather significant, so I was going to wait - maybe try an intermediate race length. Three of us decided to sign up for the Walt Disney Half Marathon - January 2004. I trained on and off for the distance but couldn't seem to find the time to really train. My longest long run was about 6 miles. The holidays during December made it hard to stick to a training schedule for this early January race. I had pretty much decided not to run the race since I was not ready. One of my other friends was unable to train or run because of knee issues. My one friend from Atlanta came down to run.
Since I had paid the registration fee, I went to the expo to pick up my race packet - and then decided that maybe I would go for it after all. My race goal was to stay ahead of the cutoff pace of 16 min/mile.
It was a chilly Florida morning, about 38 degrees F, as we waited in the starting corrals about 1 hour before race time. Fortunately I got some good advice and had layered appropriately, throwaway layers and all. The gun went off and off we ran in the dark - first through Epcot where I made a bathroom break at about mile 3. I got to about mile 6 and my feet were beginning to ache pretty good. At mile 9 my legs were aching and I stopped at an aid station to put Icy Hot on my legs. At about 10 miles I got the thrill of a lifetime, running down Mainstreet USA in the Magic Kingdom. By the time I exited the Magic Kingdom there were just 2 miles left in the race. At 3 hours, 11 minutes I crossed the finish line. My friend had finished an hour earlier - but it was quite a race.
Fast forward: Yesterday (Christmas Eve) I did my long run - 14.6 miles. The first 8 miles felt great. My heart rate stayed nice and low (low 150s) and I felt good. However, during the last 6 miles, the sun came out and the 79 deg F with 75% humidity was brutal. I finished the run in 2 hrs 56 minutes - a 12:20 min/mile pace. I am beginning to think that a 5 hour marathon may be out of my reach this time around. I have been unable to sustain the 11:30 ish pace needed to hit 5 hours. I have gotten under 11:30 for runs up to about 10 miles, but not for my longer runs. I am not discouraged - it's my first marathon so the goal is to finish. I don't want to go out too fast at the start to try to meet a pace goal that may not be realistic for me. I think a more realistic target pace would be 12 min/mile - depending on the weather. If we can get some cooler weather like my first half marathon, I will have a better shot at that pace.
I am now less than 2 weeks away from the big race. My blogging since August has been a detailed account of Part 3 of my Journey to Become a Runner - The Marathon. Pretty soon I will be wrapping up the writing of that part. I should really change it to "My Journey to Become a Marathoner" since I became a runner in Part 1 when I pinned on that race number!