“Run a race I’m proud of” was scrawled at the top of the page, my goal for the week of Feb. 6–12, 2000. That Sunday, I was running what would be the longest race of my life—13.1 miles–at Austin’s 3M Half Marathon.
I was petrified of failure.
Today, I signed up to run 3M again this Jan. 2017. Some friends from the wonderful AWDAT group (I’ve written about them before in “Friends: The Secret to Workout Success” and other posts) sent notes about signing up before the early bird registration ended.
I will train for just about anything if I am guaranteed friends to share the experience with, so I was immediately in.
Everything Old is New Again
One of these AWDAT friends recently had surgery and is just now getting the “all clear” to run again. In a way, she’ll start from 0 as she prepares for 3M. And this made me think: there’s much of a fresh start about this goal for me, too. Granted, I’ve run many, many miles and there’s no fear in that 13.1 any more. I think, though, it’s in my best interest to approach this as though I, too, am starting from 0.
- I’m out of the work habit. For several years now, I’ve pretty much run what I wanted for no purpose other than pleasure. Sure, I pushed a bit of distance here and there, but a committed schedule? Actual speed work? Nah. I’ve been a little afraid to go there. Usually, if I’m avoiding something, it’s the exact thing I need to grow.
- Changing training up is good for a body. Road running has been secondary. Even when I was supposedly getting ready for the Paris Marathon this April, I opted to run long on trails. I can’t remember the last time I primarily worked roads. Does my body really remember?
- It’s no secret that I’ve been unhappy with how slowly I run these days. The only way to become a faster runner is to practice running fast. This long, slow distance that I love…well, it will always be there. I need to get over irrational fears of potential embarrassment regarding pace and just enjoy the work again, because I have always loved a good track workout.
- A short race means less running (well, duh). This allows me to let go of any pressure to crank out mileage in the heat, something I’ve struggled with this summer. Is it age, travel to cooler places, or extra weight that’s dragging me down? I don’t know, but aiming for Cactus Rose 100 in October was quickly revealed to be a poor choice. It will be nice to focus on 3- to 6-mile runs from now until November. And a relief to not feel like I’m slacking off.
- Friends make my world go round. Most of what I have fun doing involves belonging to a group with a goal. This is a doable goal, one that will attract ad hold a wide range of people. There will always be someone to work out with. And I desperately want that social connection.
I dug out my typed-up version of that 2000 training plan, back when a sub-2:00 half marathon was in my capabilities. It brought back wonderful memories of training runs, good friends, new longest distances, and excitement in discovering a sport I loved.
And I can approach this goal without fear:
That first 3M? Yes, I had a run I was proud of; it turned out to be a magical race, one of my best efforts. I met that sub-2:00 goal with a watch time of 1:57.29, just 2.5 minutes off my coach’s predicted finish of 1:55. Moments of that run remain crystal clear, especially the spent feeling as I pushed down Lamar Blvd. into the finish at House Park Stadium. How proud (and sore) I was afterward. How everything seemed possible.
I was on my way to running my first marathon, at the starting line of a life-long habit.