Tales of Running: Yeah, that's Progress!

Image:  Lance holding his finisher medal.
I finished the last race before the marathon in 2 weeks and it was indeed another resounding success.  I ran the Applefest Half-Marathon last year and came in at 2:25:48.  I was proud of that and proud of all the running I had done thus far that season.  Last year, running was solely a distance game with the major question being "can I make it?"  I proved time and time again that I could.  I proved that despite the repeated desire to stop, I could indeed make it to the finish line, time and again.  I have a lot going for me when I set out to run a race and I can't deny that it helps me immensely to get to the finish line.   I also find it mildly amusing that I started off this season with a conversation about asking about times and this has turned into a season of running that is very much focused on times.

My timing for this race was 2:06:36, which was pretty damn epic in my book.  It was about 19 minutes off last year's running of the same race.  I was clearly prepared for it (even though I really wasn't, a bit more about that down below) and for this season, that's a total of 34 minutes shaved off my time since my first half marathon back in July.

Image:  Watch showing finished time of 2:06:36
No matter how you look at it, this run was an unequivocal win even though in my mind I was really hoping for a timing under 2:05.  But there were a few things that didn't go exactly as planned for me.  The week prior, I hadn't quite gotten in as much running as I wanted to.  This was in part because on Sunday, (September 29), I ran my 30K that I did great at, but Monday through Friday proved fairly busy and I only got in a short run and a few bicycle rides.

More importantly, my iPod died just before the start of the race.  It's been glitchy for the last few weeks since a few runs previously when my sweating produced an abundance of moisture that somehow go into my iPod and killed it on the run.  I tossed it in a container with uncooked rice to absorb the moisture for a day and then, charged it.  This worked, until it didn't.  Minutes before the race, I pressed play and then tried to pause it.  It didn't pause.  Then I tried to turn it off and it wouldn't turn back on.  I played with it frantically until I just accepted that it wasn't going to come back on.  From mile 4 to mile 6, I kept thinking I could hear something but wasn't sure what it was.  It was a low-grade background noise that I thought I might be imagining.  Finally, I decided to see if it was my iPod and it certainly was.  I fumbled with it briefly to get it on and got the tunes flowing.  Music with performance has always been important to me and though I was fine without the music, I was glad to have it as it helps me keep better pace.  It also gives me a kick in the ass on occasion too.

The other killer for this run was the hills.  Somehow, I had forgotten how hilly this race was.  In truth, it felt hillier than the 30K and even the Applecrest Half-Marathon I did at the beginning of September.  The hills were much more brutal than I somehow remembered and every time I turned a corner, I swear there was another hill.  I don't remember much of the road being flat--just hill after hill.  Despite the hills and the wonky iPod, I still completed the race with a new personal best.  This means that I think one of my new goals for next year will be to complete a half-marathon in under 2 hours.  I didn't think it would be possible, but then again, I didn't think any of this was possible 3 years ago.

This is it.  That last major run before the showdown with the Baystate Marathon on October 20th.  I've got a good amount of running for the next week and a half, several sessions planned with the skillful hands of Mindful Reiki and even a deep tissue massage by the also-skillful hands at Shanti Bodywork.  I feel ready for this.  I have no clue how I am going to do.  Barring the unexpected, I know I'll finish and that finish will merely be the start of something new (running numerous marathons next year).  I'm looking forward to it.

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