So…a half-marathon. That’s 13.1 miles. I’ve trained on my own in years past using online programs, and never stuck with it very well, hence poor performance come race day. Therefore, when we had to fill out our “goal” in this running group, mine was just, “Run the entire race without walking.” No need for a lofty goal or anything, I had done THREE of these before and never once run then entire 13 miles. I figured that alone would be sufficient.
Well, we’ve hit the 13.1 distance TWICE so far in our training and I ran it all the way both times. So, um, GOAL REACHED! Ta da! I can go home now!
Now, I find myself doing something I’ve never done before: THINKING ABOUT MY SPEED. Last night, one of the girls in our group summed it up in a nutshell in a passing comment, “It’s all mental now.”
That is a sentiment several people have mentioned in this training program. How much of this training stuff is a MENTAL challenge compared to a PHYSICAL challenge. I’m amazed every time it hits me how VERY MUCH the balance is mostly mental for me. Like, now that I’m near the end? I’d even say 80% mental.
My body is ready. It wasn’t even that difficult to get my body ready. I followed the program given to me. That easy. The hard part was each step along the way, feeling like there is no way in hell I can do this. Several times along the way I’ve almost skipped a long run just to avoid proving I was incapable of it. I got myself out the door with varying degrees of success along the way. EVERY TIME I thought about not doing it because of self-doubt and EVERY TIME I did it.
So now we’re getting down to speed. I’ve never thought about speed before because I just wanted to SURVIVE. Now? I’ve proven I can survive.
2 weeks ago, Donnie ran my 10 miles with me. I had already done 14, so I was relaxed about the 10. Donnie ended up pushing me faster than I would have run alone and we did 10 miles in 93 minutes. That’s a 9.3 minute per mile pace. That is FASTER than the pace I ran my 5K pace last year. A WHOLE LOT FASTER.
When I got ready for my 5K this weekend, I thought I’d set my pace for 9.3 minutes per mile, but Donnie convinced to aim for 9-minute miles. I ended up doing it in 8.5-minute miles. And then, last night? I had to do a 4-mile tempo run with my group. Because I don’t have a watch that tells me my pace, I had to do find someone to run with. After the first half-mile I realized I needed to catch up with the group in front of me because I was too far from the group behind me. I let the FAST GROUP pace me last night. They are the FASTEST in the group. The ones the first few weeks that just bolted ahead of me. This time? I ran with them. We ran four miles in THIRTY-THREE MINUTES. And that’s when one of the girls said to me, “It’s all mental for you now.”
Now…those four miles nearly killed me. It took everything I had to stick with them, but I did it. I DID IT.
So now we come to the point: I have NO IDEA how to pace myself for the actual race. Pace calculators tell me I should be able to do it in under 2 hours. THAT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE. The four miles last night near killed me, but that was at about an 8.25 pace. My half would be at a 9.3 pace or so. That’s a chunk slower, but is it slow enough that I could hold it for 2 hours? I HAVE NO IDEA. It’s all mental, how do you push yourself mentally? How do you find you’re limits?
No clue. I have a few long runs to figure it out. I also have the luxury of already reaching my goal so everything from here is cake. One things if for certain: I am blown away by how easy it was to do the physical part of the training, after pushing past the the mental barriers at least. Getting myself out the door was the hardest part of each of those milestones. Now, I just have to stop slowing myself down and we’ll be golden.