I know what I said. Turns out I lied and ran a half marathon.
Why it happened (a.k.a. folding like a cheap suit)
Five months ago, I ran my first 10K. It took about a month and a half of training. I ran until I thought my lungs would explode, and I checked it off my bucket list. Done. “No more running,” I puffed and panted to myself while walking off a cramp at finish line.
Three months ago, all that good advice seemed like a distant memory. Two months was plenty of time to rediscover my couch potato ways. My defences were down. Before I knew it, a friend had talked me into buddying up with her for a half marathon. There was some protesting on my end, but she played the friend card. I caved.
How it happened (a.k.a. slowly losing my ever lovin’ mind)
And that’s how I found myself committing to 12 hard weeks of half-marathon prep. I’d been running roughly no kilometres a week at that point. So it was pretty much starting from ground zero … again. While the rest of the country wished Canada a happy 148th birthday, I spent my July 1st drawing up a very precise running schedule.
I could drone on at length in excruciating detail about my gruelling schedule, but I’ll be merciful and keep it short. I became one of those 6 a.m. runners to beat the heat in the summer and to squeeze in my longer distances by the time fall rolled around. By the end, I was plodding dutifully around my neighbourhood under the eerie yellow glow of streetlights. On the plus side, I saw many a sunrise.
By the time October rolled around, I was itching to put this run behind me. I’ve heard that marathons are 10 per cent training and 90 per cent willpower, to which I say, “Pfft.” Training had consumed my life. Dark circles had permanently moved in under my eyes from all those early mornings. I could barely get through the week without at least two or three loads of laundry solely for sweaty running gear.
Race Day (a.k.a. the moment of truth)
All grumblings aside, I’m glad I chose the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon to run my first half marathon. Toronto is such a beautiful city, even more beautiful sans traffic.
I’ve never appreciated the cheering crowds as much as I did in this race. When your feet are hating you for pounding 20 kilometres of pavement, you’re getting hungry, and you’re plastered in half-dried sweat, it’s a huge boost of energy to see people smiling and whooping and waving their (pretty creative) signs. One sign promised me free puppies at the finish line.
The Play by Play (a.k.a. a two-hour test of willpower)
1-6K: I had absolutely no problem with these first few kilometres. They were just dandy, downright enjoyable even. Adrenaline is coursing through me. People are cheering. I’m taking it all in. Life is grand.
7-10K: I’m getting my game face on, starting to see those runners in the first corral looping back. Never mind that they’re flat out sprinting even after about 16K. I’m chugging along at my own steady pace
11-12K: I’m starting to entertain the thought of cutting across to the other side of the road where the first corral runners are looping back, just to save myself about 5K. Seriously contemplated, but alas there were too many witnesses.
13-15K: I can’t believe we only just rounded the loop not too long ago. My feet are wondering what they did to deserve this. Is it just me or are these kilometres way more spread out than they were in the first 10K?
16-17K: Okay, everyone is passing me, including that 70-year-old man and that woman who looks like she remembers both World Wars. Is there even anyone left behind me anymore?
18K: Can I just lie down in the middle of this road? Will they be able to put up pylons around me before I get trampled? On the other hand, we’re getting into too-close-to-quit territory.
19-20K: Crying. Starting to understand how 90 per cent willpower comes into play. This feels like death. Oh look, people are cheering.
21K: There is no way 100 metres is this far. The end is within sight. Sprint, legs! (Legs ignore me, continue trudging at snail’s pace.)
Final 0.1K: Do not underestimate these final 100 metres. I’ve lost all feeling with my legs. Everything from the waist down is in silent agony. Legs, I command you to sprint! (Legs move ever so slightly faster. I pass one person before the finish line. Sweet victory.)
The Verdict (spoiler: never again … but for real this time)
I know I said this last time, but I do not want to run (another) half marathon. That might change when enough time has passed for me to forget how painful this all was.
Yes, I’m proud of myself for finishing all 21.1K. And sure, the first 10K this time around really felt a whole lot easier than my 10K race back in May. But by the time I hit kilometre 15, I could not see why people voluntarily subject themselves to this torture on a yearly basis. All I want to do now is retire my running shoes and sleep until 2016.
To all you regular marathoners, I respectfully say, “You crazy.”
P.S. The Great Reveal
And in case you’re wondering, I did reach my goal time. I aimed for 2:15 and came in at 2:13.46. Whoop whoop.