It seems like I have been training a long time.
Ten years ago I trained with the Team In Training and finished the San Diego Rock-N-Roll Marathon (a “before I am 30” thing). Six months of training and 26.2 miles of hot fun!
For about 5 minutes this summer I looked to the horizon, saw 40 looming, and thought about training for another marathon. I thought again and determined a half marathon seemed like a better goal. I could train and continue to get used to my new job and new city. I could train and have a life beyond my training schedule. I could train and not be completely immersed in logging miles, counting calories, and nursing aches and pains. The half marathon seemed only half crazy. So, I started training at the end of June for the Seattle Half-Marathon. (I have previously written about a few of my training experiences. In sum, I am slow and determined.)
Sunday, November 27, 2011 I finished the Seattle Half Marathon in 3:14:38. The course was hilly. Rain poured. Wind blew. We raced. Just about ten years after my full marathon. Just about two months after my 40th birthday. I strapped on my shoes and three layers of gear and headed out the door of my downtown Seattle hotel. It was 6:30 in the morning. The sun rose with each step. The puddles baptized my socks and shoes. A soloist sang America the Beautiful. They called the half marathon runners to the start.
The race started at 7:15 at the base of the Space Needle. We immediately started up a gradual and definite incline. I greeted my glutes and quads as they woke up like hungry bear in Spring. I had not really trained on the type of hilly terrain that I would travel the next three hours. Neko Case on my IPOD perfectly punctuated the moment. I was the hurricane. The tiger. My legs were already heavy. I wished I would have trained on a few more hills. The course was/would never be flat. I knew Seattle was hilly. Why was I surprised?
I did the second half of the race with a Team in Training member. I saw the familiar purple shirt around mile 8. She was carrying the 3 hour 15 mile pace sign. I had been passed by the 3 hour pacer several miles earlier. I decided to talk with her and run a while. There is a certain bond between Team in Training people. We talked about our training experiences. We talked about what we do and where we are from. She was a nurse practitioner from Florida who had moved to Seattle for graduate school, fell in love, and stayed. We talked through the strain, numbness, cold, and fear. Once a Team member, always a Team member.
Training and racing at 40 taught me a few things: 1. There is a certain steel necessary to start the race. To say you will do it and back it up is important. 2. I don’t give up easily. As the wind picked up, and I saw people being treated for hypothermia along the way, I realized what I had endeavored to do was not easy. I was determined to finish. 3. The training is the race. When you finally get the shoes on that day, everything you have put into it until that point makes the difference.