BACK IN THE GAME

Real quick – have you entered my giveaway from Schneblies ® yet?

I haven’t worn a Garmin while running in a very, very long time. It’s been so long that I’m not even sure I could tell you, exactly – probably sometime in Spring 2015? For a long time after my back surgery (then recovery, then reinjury, then recovery…) I have felt pretty ambivalent about pace. Well, maybe that’s not exactly accurate. I haven’t been ambivalent about it so much as I have been discouraged by the thought of caring. It’s been a long road back to running for me and trying to accept where I am with my body, fitness, and limitations now is sometimes a challenge. As a result, I’ve shied away from anything that would give me an indication of how fast (or slow) I’m going except races – and I haven’t really “raced” an entire event in a very long time. I’m struggling to even remember what race that might have been. The Newberry Half Marathon perhaps? Yeesh. (After reading that race report, I apparently didn’t race that one either. So, who knows?)

With Tracy and Carol after the Newberry Half

Perhaps it’s my newfound acceptance of where I am, but while getting ready for my run yesterday morning, I suddenly found myself feeling a little bit curious about my speed. I’ve been thinking about starting up a half marathon training plan with the intentions of getting faster, but I don’t even know what a reasonable goal would be at this point. Still not quite ready to face actually seeing my mile splits, I turned RunKeeper on on my phone and turned the notifications off. I figured I’d check it when I was done with my 3 miles and see what happened.

The run was a slog. I’ve been in dire need of new inserts for my shoes and my legs were tight and achy, and the hills around my neighborhood were unforgiving. The humidity was approaching 90% and I felt like crap. As I neared the general vicinity of mile 2, I slowed to a walk and decided to check my overall pace, expecting it to be something like 11:00 minute miles, and that was feeling tough. Instead, I was shocked to see that my pace was 9:35, and I had felt like I was crawling. That lit a huge fire under me, and although I still took a short walk break (the tightness in my legs wasn’t magically going away based on a number, unfortunately), I ran the last mile home like I was being attacked by birds (one of my top 3 fears). I finished with an overall pace of 9:25, including the walk break.

Summer time is not the best for running selfies, so here is one from March. Maybe I’ll take one soon so you can watch sweat pour off my body like vodka off an ice luge.

That run got me thinking. No, it’s not fast generally speaking, but it’s a lot faster than I thought I was going. It didn’t feel like the fastest that I could go. So maybe, just maybe, I haven’t been running as badly as I thought. Maybe I can get faster. Maybe I can actually train to run a decent (for me, for where I am now) half marathon time again. And this morning, I went for another run. Same routine – turn on RunKeeper, then promptly ignore it. This run, which is hillier than the route I did the day before, finished with a 9:01 pace, also including a (longer) walk break. I would be lying if I said that pace felt totally easy – it didn’t. But it felt possible, even if only for a few miles. That’s something I would not have had on my radar a few months ago.

So here I am, looking up training plans and thinking about goal races. I’m planning to head to Idaho for the Pocatello Half Marathon on Labor Day Weekend, and that is a mostly flat course with a slight net downhill and two medium-sized hills along the route. Targeting that as my goal race would mean my training plan would start next week! I decided to use a half marathon training plan from Women’s Running and shoot for around 2 hours. I say “around” because I’m going to Nicaragua for two weeks smack in the middle of July to do a charity construction project for work, and little if any running is likely to happen during that time. I need to be realistic, but I still want to set a goal and work towards something.

Pocatello seems like a pretty good place to run fast.

It’s strange that I’m feeling this motivated in the summer, which is the worst part of the running year for me. I really struggle with the heat, but I trained through the summer for a marathon last year, so I know I can do it. It’s been a long time since I actually felt inclined to put any real effort into following a training plan at all, and it’s actually a satisfying feeling. Although I don’t know how my back will hold up with the addition of speedwork and more mileage, we’re about to find out. Sub 2-hour half marathon, I’m coming (back, again, eventually) for you!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Are you working towards a goal race right now? Have you ever struggled with finding the motivation to train hard?

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