02 October 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Providence Half Marathon

Well, I did it. With so little training, I decided to show up on the morning of the Rock 'n' Roll Providence Half Marathon to see what would happen. I was going to take it slow and easy. I planned on walk breaks. I toed the line, I started an easy shuffle. And before I knew it, mile after mile was ticking by and miles four through eight were each done at a ten-minute pace without me even thinking about it. I'd told Mike to expect me to finish in two-and-a-half to three hours but I texted him after mile seven, then at miles ten and eleven with my progress.

Mike and Muffin made it just in time to see me finish in two hours and fifteen minutes.

I felt fine during the run. I kept telling myself to slow down and take it easy. I told myself to enjoy the sights and the music, and I did enjoy those things. I smiled at some of the signs and spectators along the way. I stopped to use the bathroom. I stopped to drink some Gatorade. I stopped to take a few snapshots. I kept thinking of all my laps around KBR Park in Hyderabad and all my early mornings running before the heat of the day set in. I didn't want those laps and hours to go to waste. I didn't get to run the two half marathons I'd trained for in Hyderabad but even though I may have lost the physical training from those runs, the mental training was still with me. I thought of getting to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and about being in labor for nearly thirty hours. Running a half marathon was way, way easier than those things.

I've been paying for it since I crossed the line, however. I've hardly been able to walk and Tylenol has been my best friend. Bed time last night was the first time since Sunday that I fell asleep pain-free.

There is a movement among people who want to run a marathon to use a "training-free" training plan. If you want to run that one race and never run again, I say, sure, why not, but you're not doing yourself any favors by not giving yourself an inkling of how much pain you'll be in afterward. I wouldn't recommend anything like it unless you really know your body well. I knew I could do the distance; I've done it before at walking and at running paces. I had an idea of how much it was going to hurt afterward and I knew when to back off to make sure I didn't get injured along the way. I would not recommend this no-training strategy to someone who has never done long-distance running or racing before.

If going to the mall is U.S. consumer culture overload, then running a big race like a Rock 'n' Roll event is the running equivalent. I haven't raced in the United States in a while; the last one I did was a much smaller race, so seeing all the gear and technical running clothes on people who are more casual runners, not elites and not sponsored athletes, was kind of a shock. I have to say people run with way too much freakin' gear. And I saw a lot of evidence that it didn't really help much. Yes, I carried my phone with me with a GPS app running. I run with my phone every single time in case I need to make an emergency phone call. But I don't care about the best tech tees and running skirts. I saw people with Garmin watches, ipods, and water belts -- lots of people with all three -- and they were getting tangled up in their earbud wires; GPSes were beeping with low memories and low batteries; water bottles were popping out of fueling belts when people took off long-sleeved shirts. All those distractions just slow you down, possibly more so than if you just ran without it all. To me, too much stuff only leads to more things that could go wrong. The running isn't that hard; I think people get caught up in the self-imposed difficulties brought on by all the gear. As far as commercial industries go, the running industry is starting to annoy me almost as much as the wedding and baby industries. But that's all I'm going to say about that for now.

I'm going to continue running my own races from now on and not worry about the people around me.

Watching the race was fun and all, but she was really impress
with the free chocolate milk and bananas afterward.