Picking up running again was a challenge that frankly, I wasn’t sure I was prepared for. I trained for the full Missoula Marathon in 2011, and it took several weeks of training before I finally got to a point where I *gasp*enjoyed it. As I’ve mentioned a time or two or five, I’m a s…l…o…w… runner, so unlike some other folks I might name, I don’t toss off a long run in a couple of hours. It’s a half day commitment.
Doing the half marathon this year only happened because I’d already registered last year. And to be even more honest about it, I’d only planned to walk last year, but a 7 month belly and extreme ligament pain put paid to that idea. I deferred my registration and thus, quite without intending anything of the sort, ended up training at 4 months postpartum and still nursing. So I found myself out there again, nursing sore core muscles (left over from a 31 hour labor), and trying to decide what exactly I was doing out there.
Despite some training runs that went rather poorly (okay, pretty much the entire last month), the half marathon itself was surprisingly fun. It felt like a party. I did a lot more chatting with other run/walkers, and the emotional tone was much lighter. I think the difference is that when you’re doing the full 26.2 distance (because 26.3 would be crazy) there’s a certain mental fortitude that has to develop. Well, for me anyway. Like I said – I’m not one of those folks that pounds out miles. In comparison, 13.1 (because we’re only half crazy) felt pretty easy, and because it’s entirely possible to walk the entire thing in a reasonable amount of time there was a lot less pressure. I think the halfers take themselves much less seriously, in general. I admit to feeling a pang as we cheered on the “real” runners, the full marathoners, as they started passing us toward the end of the race, but overall I was pleased with how everything went.
Leading up to the race, I’d mentally trod circles… on one hand, I felt like I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough. My training partner and I followed a 3/4s mile run + 1/4 mile walk pattern for the majority of our training, and while I had no illusions of competing with any seasoned runners, I didn’t want to slack off either. On the flip side, I was out there relatively soon-ish after giving birth (so NOT one of those gals that bounces out of postpartum ready for anything), and I was/am still nursing, and still waking up approximately every 12.3 seconds at night, so I wanted to cut myself some slack.
Ultimately, I was really surprised by how good I felt. We even ended up running negative splits (where you run your second half faster than your first half) and that was the first time I’d ever done that. I hit a euphoric high on the last couple miles of the race and we finished strong. Really strong. And faster than I’d thought we’d be able to. So, even though I went through my usual mental argument of you are crazy, why on earth did you sign up for THIS, I might sign up for the half again. Okay, probably will.
On a different note, my training partner, my husband and I did signs again for the Marathon, and this year we chose a Star Wars theme. I’m not sure how many people actually stopped and read them – I know a few did at least – but they were so much fun to do. I admit that the Pigeon Runs a Marathon is my favorite of these yet, but this year wasn’t bad.
(Apologies for the quality of some of the pictures, my camera died while putting these up. Also, if you click on an image it will open the group as a slideshow, and it’s much easier to read!)
So, a Long time ago, in a Marathon, far, far away…