TITLE: A Good Start AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 25, 2007 10:54 AM DESC: ----- BODY: I haven't written about running lately. There hasn't been much to say as I worked my mileage slowly starting over, again. My first milestone came yesterday morning, at the Sturgis Falls half marathon. The short description. I did not run a personal best, yet my race was a surprising success. Today, I am sore, and happily so. The long description: The race went much better than planned. I went into the day with relatively light training, consecutive weeks of 28, 30, 30, and 32 miles. My longest runs were 11 miles two weeks ago and 10 last week. I had done a couple of runs that pass for fast, but only 4-5 miles each. So, my plan for the race was conservative: try to run 8-10 miles at a 8:30/mile pace and then see how I felt. If I felt weak, I'd just try to maintain that pace; if I felt strong, I would see whether I could speed up a bit. I ran miles 1-5 right at an 8:30/mile average. Unintentionally, I ran the sixth mile in 8:20 or, and it felt okay so I held that pace through the ninth mile. I was fully prepared for the chance that this would burn me out. But it didn't. Miles 10-12 took us along a trail into downtown and back, with a small loop on the end. This meant that there were a lot of runners all along the course in both directions. The energy of competition kicked in... I ran my Mile 10 in 8:07, and then Mile 11 in 8:03. The race was on. I took the twelfth mile in 7:41, finally passing a young, strong-looking runner whom I'd been tracking for several miles. I ran the last full mile 7:30 and sprinted home to finish in 1:47. The young guy finished even stronger and beat me by 7 seconds. No matter. Though this was my second worst time ever in a half marathon, it was among the most satisfying, given my expectations. Context matters. I'm still tired from the race and a bit stiff, but that's to be expected. I have not run this far or this fast for this long in a long time. My body has a right to register its reaction. With yesterday's race, my last five weeks have been in the 28-30 mile range. That's a far cry from the regular 38-41 mile weeks I ran throughout 2005-2006 but also my best stretch since December. I still tire more easily than in the past, and I do not have much speed yet. But I can now embark on training for Marine Corps Marathon with some confidence. I'm wondering how aggressive I should be in training. I'm even thinking ahead to the race itself -- maybe I should set a goal of 8:30/mile for the first 15 miles or so and then see if I can finish strong? There is a lot said for balancing high ambition with a dose of realism that increases the probability of success -- and fun. -----