In defiance of all logic and reason, I signed up for a half marathon. My company shot out an email saying they would cover the registration costs, and that all we needed to do was show up – definitely my type of arrangement. My thinking was that by taking part I would at least be running 13.1 additional miles this summer. Come race day, my three month training regimen consisted of an entire 8 miles – I was going for the ‘fresh legs’ approach. Pizza and beer comprised my carboloading efforts.With the race kicking off at around 7am, I really had to shortchange my sleep to get downtown on time. The weather however was cool, breezeless, and perfectly blue. After jockeying to my assigned corral, I was a bit underwhelmed by my fellow corallees and decided to push into something more ambitious. Much better to strive for the 2:00:00 pace and fall off than to accept mediocrity from the outset.
The gun fired and I was off at a good clip – I was passing people and things felt great. I settled into a more realistic 9 minute pace, and managed to hold it until about the 10 mile mark. A 2 hour finish was actually feeling attainable, but reality took hold in that last fourth of the race. No look of grit and determination was going to get me there either.Cardio was at no point the limiting factor, but the complete lack of leg conditioning did eventually present itself. I went in with the goal of running throughout, but as my stride become so short that the walkers were keeping pace, justifying the pain any longer was hard to do. The pace trailed off a bit in the closing miles, but I was still able to jog most of it. I had to dig deep for that final push, but the adrenaline as well as the possibility that coworkers were watching urged me onward. The look of bliss and fatigue was captured well as I crossed that line.
The event was sponsored by Michelob, so there were a couple of icy cold beers waiting…which I had zero interest in. Beer refreshes after something like mowing the lawn, not extended physical exertion. Muscles were tight and hurting as I rejoined my colleagues at the AAR tent. After sipping some Powerade and chatting, I limped off towards my car and was dead on the couch by noon.
In the end I averaged 10:12 miles – just a hair above my goal – but knowing that I could still rock up and perform at that respectable caliber felt great. I may get conned into doing it again, though I can’t imagine doing a better job of training. To those wondering, there will be no tacky 13.1 sticker going on my car.