Thoughts before my first half marathon:
While thinking of a topic to use for my inaugural “Random Thought Thursday” post, the first thing to come to mind was my first half marathon this weekend. Thoughts on this topic have been dominating my mind all week anyway. Why not write about a few of these emotions? As I wrote in my latest post, this half marathon has been a goal of mine since last year. I have been anxiously waiting for this weekend to get here for some time. But now that it is so close, three distinct questions have been on my mind. What do I need to do this week to get ready for Saturday? What is my plan for the actual race? What do I do once this much anticipated goal has been met, or not met?
I have raced in three different races since last November, but they all had something in common. They were all local races, which allowed me to sleep in my own bed the night before. This weekend is going to be different. Since the race is in Charlottesville and since the start time is 6:30 am, there is no way I can stay at home the night before. In preparation, I reserved a hotel room in Charlottesville weeks ago. So this race is technically a destination race, even though it is only about a couple hours from my house. This requires additional planning and packing. Back when I use to play football, I was that guy that would check his travel bag 100 times to make sure all the important stuff was there. My biggest fear was that I would get to the away game, only to realize that my helmet as back in our locker-room. I have already made a list of gear and clothing I need to pack, which items I need to take with me to the starting line, and which items I can leave in the car. I am very happy that Anna and boys are going to be able to come too. But as any parent would know, taking a trip with kids brings stress too. Plus, Anna and the boys will be leaving the hotel after me and will probably need to checkout too. I am trying not to get too worried about the logistical details of our trip, but it is almost impossible not get a little stressed.
So that leaves me to start thinking about the actual race itself. Once all the planning and packing are finished and I actually have to run the longest race I have ever run. Since I am new to the running world, I do not know enough about planning a race to be too worried. I have told myself that I was going to just run at a comfortable pace with my only goal of actually finishing the race. But the competitive person I am, I can’t help but shoot for a specific time in my head. Since any time would be a personal record for me in the half marathon, I shouldn’t be too concerned with meeting any set time goal for myself. I use my iPod as my watch when I run. It works pretty well for me because I can hit a single button and the nice computer voice tells me my time. So, I am going to use my rule of 9’s when keeping up with my pace. I am sure someone probably already coined this term, but I like the way it sounded. So, I am going to try to set my pace so that every mile split is a multiple of 9, or less. So after mile 1, my split should be 9:XX, followed by mile splits of 18, 27, 36, etc. Hopefully that will get me to over 10 miles with enough energy to push myself a little bit more in the last few miles. Plus, it is easy enough to keep track of while huffing and puffing down the road.
So hopefully all my logistical and race planning will lead me to accomplish my ultimate goal of completing a half marathon. Which leads me to my last question, what next? This is the one question I am not going to stress out about too much. I have actually already signed up for a 5k trail race next Saturday, but I did it more for experience of running through an apple orchard (more on that race to come in later posts). I just plan to take a couple easy runs next week to try and help my legs get over any soreness. Other than this race, I have signed up for one more trail race (10k) in May. So after those two races, I am going to continue to get my weekly runs. But more importantly, I am going to enjoy my summer with Anna and the boys. If I miss a run, I miss a run. I will not get overly concerned as long as I missed the run due to a family function and not due to laziness. I do want to try and ride my bike more this summer and also start a little weight training. Once the end of summer comes around, I will concentrate on getting ready for the Virginia 10 Miler in September.
So, as long as I can get to the starting line at 6:30 am on Saturday, everything should work out. I will continue to try to not sweat the small stuff and try to enjoy the experience. Hopefully I will have great stuff to write about when we return home.