This time last year I was busy training for the half-marathon – 21km, which I completed in 2 hours and 24 minutes.
I have not ran a half-marathon since then, and will not be running the half-marathon next month either. Nor have I gone on any runs that have lasted more than an hour, nor can I remember the last time I hit the double digits in distance. A lot of this is a bit puzzling to me since my half-marathon experience was a very pleasant one – I wrote about it in my blog and in rereading the entry just now, to see if I was really remembering it correctly, to see if it really was as easy as I remembered and apparently this was the case.
Every once in a while I think about the upcoming marathon with some longing; or I think that while I might not be able to run in this race, next year’s May race is always an option. I think those things and then I brush them aside.
I’m not so sure why that is. I could run another race and chances are, I could probably run faster and beat my previous time. It’d be easier the second time around because I’d know what I could expect, I could prepare better, I wouldn’t be moving into a house in the middle of my training schedule, training for a spring race would mean better weather.
But the fact that I could do better isn’t enough of a reason for me. I ran the half-marathon last year because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, and I did. I was very happy to just cross the finish line – especially as someone who didn’t start running until I was almost 30. I’ve been told before that I’m not a very competitive person and I guess when it comes to running, I’m not.
I was thinking these things when I went out for a run this evening. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the sun was low on the horizon; I threw on some shorts and a tank and hit the bike paths that I trained on the year before. I knew the route that I had planned to run – 2.2km out and then 2.2km back and since I was running solo, I fell into a comfortable pace. I checked my stopwatch as I hit the halfway mark and doubled back and saw that I was at 13:39. I did the same run last week in 30 minutes so I started thinking that maybe I’d be able to beat my time from the week before.
And of course, maybe I wouldn’t.
As I began the ran back I started thinking about how I’m not a very fast runner. I’m less so when I’m running by myself and even though I probably could run faster, I’m not really inclined to push myself. I started thinking about my regular running partners who are much faster than I am, and can run a 5km in 20 minutes or less. I thought about the times that I run with them and how I don’t let their speed intimidate me or even use it as a motivation. When we run together, it’s always at my stubborn pace, as slow and steady as it might be.
I am a tortoise and my running partners are hares.
I thought about this as I ran, and realized that this was the mentality that I had when I ran the half-marathon. I didn’t care when I passed the finish line as long as I finished, I ran slow and steady, breathed properly, slowed down when I needed too, sped up when I thought I could. It was a strategy that worked for me and after the race we heard about people taking off at too fast pace, trying to beat the clock only to puke when they crossed the finish line or not even make it across at all.
So I ran along tonight, thinking about these things, accepting that when I run I’m totally a tortoise and will never be a hare. And as I thought these things, from the brush beside me there was a flurry of activity and then a rabbit leapt onto the path in front of where I was running. I startled and started to swerve but the rabbit corrected it’s course and starting running along the path beside me, just a few steps ahead and we ran like this for about 50 metres or so and then he veered back off the path and back into the brush and I started to laugh because even when I’m running alone I’m still running with rabbits.
As I closed in on the last few hundred metres of my run I checked my stopwatch and saw that I was a few minutes from the 30 minute mark which was where I was at last week when I did that route. It didn’t seem unreasonable to me that I could finish in less than 30 minutes so I sped up just a little bit, powering up the last hill in the path and rounded that last bend.
While I doubt that I will ever run a 5km in less than 20minutes, but I could see myself doing it in less than 30 minutes. The past few weeks that I’ve ran at the gym, I’ve increased my speed on the treadmills and do intervals at a faster speed than I’m used to. When I take my running out doors, I feel the interval training starting to kick in – I’m not neccessarily running any faster just yet, but I am breathing easier, have more endurance, feel like I can run, and run and run some more.
So while it might appear that I run like the tortoise, I seem to have a little bit of hare in me afterall. And tonight I proved it to myself but finishing my run at just under 28 minutes, shaving just over 2 minutes off my previous time.