I had it in my mind for the better part of a month that I wanted to run a half marathon.
I just didn’t tell too many people.
I’m giving myself more than enough time to train for it, given the race is nine months away. I want to work my way up to being able to run 13.1 miles. I know physically it will be a challenge, but also mentally as well.
So, nine month is what I feel is a worthwhile program to build up the mental wherewithal to be able to run for that long, approximately 2 hours, 30 minutes, based on the pace with which I run (anywhere from 10 minutes, 30 seconds per mile to 12 min./mile).
But the first step in being able to run a half marathon is being able to complete half that. Which is why I attempted — and completed — my first 10K on Saturday in Dunkirk, Indiana.
The tough part about Saturday morning race days is that I work late on Friday nights, so the amount of sleep I can get the night before a race isn’t very much.
That night, I wasn’t able to fall asleep until about 12:45 a.m. (race time was 8 a.m.), and my FitBit tells me that I got 5 hours, 59 minutes of sleep with 16 times during the night that I was restless.
I had a feeling trying to run following a night during which I didn’t get much, or quality, sleep was going to be difficult. I did the best I could to put that aspect behind me, overcome any tiredness I was feeling and push through the race.
I got registered, stretched and lingered near the starting line, minding my own and patiently awaiting the start.
I lingered toward Denice, a woman with whom I have befriended this spring/summer while participating in the Run Jay County 5K races. She and I have run at about the same pace and helped motivate one another when we needed a pick-me-up.
She asked which race I was doing — the Zack Hummer Memorial 5K or the 10K — to which I replied I was going to give the 10K a shot. We then chatted briefly about running 10Ks and also the Indy Mini … to which she supported my goal of running in Indianapolis.
It’s quite cool how supportive others in the running community are becoming of me. We’re all in this together!
A few weeks prior I ran a race during which the weather was about 75 degrees, but with 90 percent humidity, which made for the worst conditions I have ever ran in.
This morning, though, it was 66 degrees with humidity about 88 percent. Much better running conditions, as the breeze was going to be nice.
Per usual, I started near the end of the field, simply because I’d rather have the faster people start in front of me. I’m in no hurry, honestly. They are.
From Dunkirk City Park, the route took us south on Haskel Road, then we headed east on county road 450 South. From there we ran to county road 1100 West, then turned south. Shortly after making the turn we hit the 1-mile mark, which I completed in 10 minutes, 20 seconds.
I was feeling good, happy with the first mile and was hoping to keep up the same pace throughout. I haven’t been able to do that on very many of my runs, so this was a good time to try to maintain that pace.
We got to 500 South and had to make a hairpin turn, and head back north on 1100 West. At that turn was the first water station, to which I slowed slightly to grab a drink.
After making the turn west on to 450 South, we hit the 2-mile mark. My pace for the second mile: 10:40. Slightly slower, but I still felt I was doing fine.
The course took us back north on Haskel Road toward 400 South, then we had to go west on 400 South toward the Dunkirk City Park entrance. The course turned south on Speedcat Alley (the entrance to the park), and the 3-mile mark (pace: 10:48 — still going strong!).
As most of the field turned west toward the 5K finish line, I made my way east to Haskel Road for another loop.
Few quick thoughts as I completed the 5K:
- I didn’t get lapped by the other 10K runners
- I was primed for another lap, having kept about the same pace I wanted through the first 3.1 miles
- My legs were feeling great, my lungs were cooperating and I wasn’t expecting much in the way of problems for the final 5K.
I skipped the water station right after the 5K, which probably turned out to be for the worst, because once I got to the third water station (same as the first), I was in dire need of a drink.
I hit the 4-mile mark having ran the last mile in 11:01, which was still quite faster than I was expecting. In the past, the fourth mile has always been about 11:30 for me, so to be 29 seconds faster made me feel pretty good.
But I started to slow up. I had to walk for a brief moment during the fifth mile, which pushed my pace at the 5-mile mark to 11:37. But still I kept going, as at this point I realized there was no one behind me.
I was going to finish last.
By this time I just wanted to be done. I had to walk during the sixth milefor about 160 steps. I wanted to keep it to a minimum.
After all, I was chasing a goal time I had set of 1 hour, 10 minutes.
As I ran north on Haskel Road toward 400 South, I had to push through each step, finding the power to keep going. I had less than a mile to go and I wanted to make it to the finish line.
I completed the sixth mile in 11:43 … I had dropped off drastically in the last two miles, but at that point it was no big deal. I could see the finish line and I had to make it.
As I made the turn back into Dunkirk City Park with about 15-hundredths of a mile to go, I kicked toward the finish line.
I made the slight right turn to the east and crossed the finish line.
In dead last.
With a time of 1:10:32.
The feeling of making it across the finish line was far superior to that of being the last to do so. I didn’t care that more than 50 people had already been done, the fact I finished was the only thing on my mind.
I did it!
I had to lay in the grass in the shade for what seemed like 10 minutes to catch my breath, slam some water and give my body some time to relax.
After changing out of my soaking-wet running clothes, I went over to watch some friends play in the 3-on-3 basketball tournament, then headed back to Portland because I had to shoot harness racing at the fairgrounds.
But once I returned back to my apartment after the harness racing, I was spent, both physically and mentally. I was tired — a combination from the race and not getting enough sleep the night before — so I took a nap for about 2-1/2 hours.
When I woke up I was still sore, mostly my hips but also my abs (in combination of the run and also doing core exercises the previous two days).
I had some lunch and then relaxed at home for the remainder of the day. Then about 5 p.m. — eight hours after I crossed the finish line — I felt normal physically but still mentally drained.
But the feeling of knowing I ran a 10K earlier in the day and I was one step closer to my goal of running a half marathon made it worthwhile.
I woke up this morning feeling fine, with the exception of my left quad being sore when I walk. My feet and ankles feel fine, there is no pain in my knees or my hips and my abs are not sore either — just my left quad.
And if that is the only soreness I have following a 6.2-mile run 26 hours earlier, I’m perfectly OK with that.
I’m at an impasse today. I really want to go to the gym, but I also need to give my body some rest.
I think I’ll take it easy.
Moving forward, now that I know I am mentally and physically capable of running 6.2 miles, I see being able to run 13.1 a distinct possibility. I just have to work my way toward that goal for the next nine months. Adding a half mile a month until May will definitely get me there.
Monday, I get back to work.
(Countdown to Indy Mini: 272 days)