Monday, May 26, 2008

May 26, 2008: Half Marathon Report

Short version: if you haven't trained in 23 degree Celsius heat, the race isn't a lot of fun. If you happen to wear black shirt/shorts/cap at the same time, it's even less fun. Sometimes you have to walk even when you don't want to.

I did the Mississauga half marathon two weeks ago in 2:40:47. I wanted to do Ottawa in 2:39 or less and I really wanted 2:35. The problem? I had no basis for thinking I could achieve that time. I didn't finish Mississauga feeling like I was full of energy and like I could have done more. The last 2km were rough, and I was tired. So why'd I figure I could be faster in Ottawa? Well, because I wanted to be.

But sometimes that just isn't enough.

I was nervous at the start in Ottawa, likely because inside I knew I didn't have what it would take to get the time I'd essentially pulled out of the air. There's been a point in every race where I've seriously felt I couldn't keep going. I hit that at about the 4km mark in Ottawa, a BAD sign given there were 17 more km to go at that point. I started to feel a bit better, and from 13km to 17km I was doing well, largely because I gave up on the time goal and decided to go on what felt right. I found a pace that felt comfortable but still a challenge and stuck with it.

Just past the 18km mark, I started to feel really thirsty, and ridiculously overheated. I took a cup of water at the aid station there, which I hadn't planned to do (I take my own Gatorade), and since I can't drink while running I had to walk.

And then I couldn't get going again. I kept saying, "I'll run after this next post" and then walking past the post. Just before the 19km mark, I said to myself, "This is not how you want this to go. You have a choice right here: you give up and walk the rest of the way or you run and you don't walk again. What's it going to be?"

I ran to the end.

I was likely not a lot faster than I'd have been walking, but I did run. I nearly quit running several times but I didn't let myself, and I'm so glad. I still wish I hadn't started walking the first time (my plan was to walk only my scheduled walk breaks) but I am so glad I made myself run again, because when I finished I knew I'd given it everything I had.

That's how I want my writing career to go too. I worked my butt off on Seven last week and I know there wasn't anything left to give. The book is the best I've got. Everything I know how to do, at this stage, is in there.

All I can do, in writing and running, is know I've put everything I have into it. And I've done that with Seven. And I did it with the race too. And I'll continue to do it.

Until I achieve that 2:35, and until I see my books on the shelf at every bookstore.

And then I'll set new goals and achieve those too.

One race at a time.

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