Test run

I was supposed to run 14 miles today, and I followed the map to do so, but somehow I didn’t quite get that far. However, I did, for the first time, run further than I drive to work each day. Here’s today’s run by the numbers:

  • miles: 13.1
  • time: 3:36
  • calories: 1,650
  • podcasts: two ESPN-U and three How Stuff Works episodes
  • number of cyclists with non-walking dogs: two
  • number of muscles that hurt now: all of them
  • times I will train for a full marathon: zero, zip, zilch, none.

Today was the longest of our scheduled training runs–next week is 10, and the week after that it’s seven. This was the only time I’d hit the half-marathon distance before the race itself, so I figured I’d know one way or the other how prepared I really am for this thing.

It was a beautiful, cool morning. Somewhere during my first two miles, the sun started peeking up above the horizon. I was kind of retracing my steps–today’s route went back towards my house, down the same roads I’d used to get there a few minutes before. At 7am, there’s not a lot of vehicle traffic, but there were a lot of runners out, most of them passing me.

The first five miles, I maintained a comfortable, even pace. The course was flat, somewhat downhill, and I felt pretty good. No walking, no hip or foot issues. I paused a couple of times to cross busy streets, and I stopped  twice for water, but that was it.

It was here I spotted the aforementioned cyclists with dogs. The first woman wore a little teacup dog in a chest carrier as she rode, and the second pulled a large boxer-like dog in a trailer. I also noticed two houses, next door to each other, with Romney-Ryan signs poked into the grass next to empty lawn chairs. One of the chairs had a big hole in the middle, and I couldn’t decide if that was some kind of symbolic gesture, or just that they used a cruddy old lawn chair to make a political statement.

Near the halfway point, I noticed my leg muscles were feeling kind of sore. I knew at the time that my pace slowed a bit as a result, and looking at the stats from my Garmin proves it–right around the halfway point, I lost about a minute per mile, pacewise. But I stuck with it, slowing only to wait for traffic signals and to refill my water bottle. By mile nine I was definitely hurting, but it was soreness as opposed to the sharp pain of injury, so I soldiered on. Slowly. I’ll admit to walking some around mile eleven, up a long, sloping hill, but ran (if you can call it that) the rest of the way. I got water at mile 12, negotiated the increased traffic at the last four-way stop, and listened for my Garmin’s beep. I knew I wasn’t going to make 14, but I would definitely finish 13.1, and that was good enough for me.

By the time I got back, everyone else was done and gone–even the full marathoners who ran 24 miles. The place was quiet as I drank the bottle of lime water I’d left in the ice machine, stretched, and contemplated this run. On a relatively flat course, similar to what I’ll see in San Antonio, I had finished nowhere near my 3:00 goal. My legs hurt, my feet hurt, my lower back hurt, I had a pounding headache, and I wasn’t sure I could get back up off the mat on which I was lying. I thought after three months of training, I’d have gotten closer to this being easier.

I managed to drag myself off the floor and to my car. I drive a six-speed though, and every time I pushed in the clutch on the eight-mile drive home, my left leg hurt. It hurt to stand in the shower. It hurt to get off the couch. And I’m sure it will hurt to walk up and down the hills to and from the football stadium tonight.

The good news is that I know I CAN complete 13.1, mostly running, at a pace just fast enough to beat the four-hour cutoff. Finishing = winning, right?