Today was Step One in my path to the Ironman, the half marathon.
2010 ING Hartford Half Marathon. I had three goals:
1. Finish the race
2. Run the entire race without walking
3. Run an average 7:00/mile pace
First of all, I finished the race. Second, I never once stopped to walk despite wanting to very badly in the final three miles. And lastly, I maintained a 6:54/mile pace through the first 6 miles, but lost my stride somewhere around mile 8 and slowed down with a 7:30/mile pace making for an overall run of 1:34:39 (7:14/mile).
Overall, I am thrilled to sit back and think that as of this past Spring I would barely consider running. Now I've completed half a marathon, not to mention having done half of it feeling rather strong. When I signed up for this event, I simply planned on finishing (I would have predicted something like an 8:30/mile pace). I ran a couple 5k races since, inadvertently proving to myself that I can not only hold a fast pace, but also feel good doing so. I believe my greatest asset in this race was that I had no idea what kind of fatigue, pain, and challenge was in store for me. I pushed it early while I felt great and after mile 7/8 I just did everything I could to hold it; I am an endurance racer and have never been a sprinter, so being able to blindly push myself early is my best option. Unfortunately, from this point on, I know what the race has in store so it will be harder to push myself early and not hold back trying to "save energy."
Then on top of it all, today was the Ford Ironman World Championship; the best of the best professional Ironman athletes going head to head in the relentless Kona, Hawaii course. I watched about half the bike and the entire run (the top women are still coming up to the finish as I type this) and the men had an incredible competition. It's been great to watch the race both for the inspiration but also for both cycling and running tips; no one better to learn from than the best athletes out there. Then along with this, two men have run 2:41 marathons (6:08/mile pace). These people are beyond amazing.