I take full responsibility for my lack of preparedness for the Louisiana Half Marathon. This story is not cringe-worthy or hard to read, though. It is better described as miraculous, considering that I didn’t give-up or pass out.
Warning: I do not condone or recommend this as a method of half-marathon preparation. I want to tell my story in hopes that it will motivate you to train your butt off.
I signed up for the Louisiana Half Marathon in the Fall. Kevin and I had just completed the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, and I was still riding the high from completing that race. I thought, “Why not? Maybe I’ll even sign up for the marathon!”
I did not, obviously. My only thoughts on my marathon close-call is: dodged that bullet.
When it’s August, January seems light years away. I was training and running, but I figured I’d wait until close to October or November to really push it into gear for the half.
My running buddies were great. They were running every day and inviting me to join; sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. I was probably averaging around five or six miles a week.
I suffered a minor set-back when I twisted my ankle, for what seemed like the one-millionth time. Sometimes I question whether or not I was taught to walk properly; mom, dad…what’s the deal here?
Around November, I got my second wind and a fresh pair of shoes. My new attitude and Mizuno Wave Rider 15s were going to carry me across that finish line.
Bam. Decemeber, with it’s cookies, Christmas dinners and parties hit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you want to make time for something, you will. I just didn’t want to make time to run bad enough.
It wasn’t until January that I realized I better get my training in gear. I’m nothing if not always fashionably late to the party, even if it is a running one.
A few weeks before, Jenny Norris (also a writer for this running section) mentioned using the Jeff Galloway method to increase speed. The method uses a walk/run ratio to help keep your body from getting exhausted. I decided to try it out.
I went for a seven mile run using his 3:1 ratio, and other than a bit of discomfort in my hip, I felt great. So, it was decided, I would use this method for my impending 13.1 mile run.
The weekend of the race had arrived and both sets of parents were visiting, mine and Kevin’s, as it was my birthday and we were both running. Happy birthday to me, eh?
I had decided on a strenuous 2:1 ratio. Basically, I would run for two minutes and walk for one throughout the entire race. It seemed tedious, but I was willing to give anything a shot.
The first six miles flew by and I could hardly believe that I was almost half way through the race. I didn’t even mind the dreaded North Blvd overpass. My body felt great and my legs weren’t feeling tired at all.
To be honest, all I could think about was what I was going to be eating after the race. Thoughts of hamburgers, jambalaya and french fries danced through my head.
During the race I was really impressed with the huge Louisiana Marathon mile markers and the abundance of water stations. I was so focused on doing the right run to walk ratio, that things sort of passed in a blur.
At mile nine, my body began feeling a bit tired. My legs were feeling weary and my right arm was going numb, oddly. Considering my long run before the race was seven, this was not a shock to me. I didn’t feel miserable, though, so I pushed it out of my head and counted on my fingers that I only had four more miles to go (math is not my strong suit).
By the time we had reached the point where we were heading back downtown towards the finish line, I had given up on my ratio. I would pick a point in the distance and try to reach it by running as fast as I could, then walk a minute.
Then, I spotted that North Blvd overpass that had seemed like such a minor inconvenience on the way out. It looked like a mountain now. At its highest point, I looked over to my left just in time to spot Matt Manning, who won the marathon, passing me. I was tempted to throw him over.
Suddenly, there was a crowd, music and the smell of delicious food. I pulled myself out of my walk/run haze and put my running in to a faster gear. I was about to cross the finish line and stuff my face with food.
And wouldn’t you know it, I did exactly that. The funniest part, is that the walk/run ratio allowed me to shave a minute off my half marathon time. I set a PR.
The one thing I was irritated about, was the fact that I had knowingly stayed to the outer edges of the race course, as not to get in the way of other runners while I was walking. This kept me from running tangents.
I ended up running 13.87 miles at an 11:56 pace, which sadly put my time at 2:44.
So, other than making me sound like the world’s biggest slacker, I’m hoping this story will motivate you to not put off your training. Just do it.
You won’t ever regret going for a run, but when you cross the half marathon finish line at 2:44 without training, you’ll always wonder how much faster you could have gone.
Best part? I’ve already signed up for the 2013 Louisiana Marathon.