Archive for October 6, 2011

When I put together my training plan for the NYC Marathon I was looking for a half-marathon to run as a “tune-up” event 4 weeks prior to the marathon.  A race where I would be able to put myself back into a large crowd, lots of hoopla at the start, race day nerves and butterflies swirling around my stomach and an opportunity to gauge where I was physically and mentally with New York closing in on me.

16 weeks, 765 miles, 8 races and one triathlon later and here we are – The Denver Rock n’ Roll Half-Marathon.

2010 Denver Start

The race is important for me, but it is more important for someone close to me – my Sister-in-Law and Landry’s God Mother Kim.  Kim will be running her first half-marathon here in Denver on Sunday, the third mile of the race will take her less than a full city block from where she lives.

She will be running farther on Sunday than she ever has before – as her training plan called for a long run maximum of 11 miles.

When I am reaching the half-way point of my race and the burn is starting to creep into my quads and calf muscles and holding on at half-marathon pace is being challenged for the first time in the thin mile-high air of Denver, Kim will be slugging it out for the first time with a race course and distance that is going to test her.

She is going to find out some things about herself on Sunday that only being put in that position can do for a person.  There will be great highs and perhaps a few challenging miles and moments for Kim on Sunday – but all of those tough times will be erased as she comes onto that final stretch of road with the finish line in sight and just another 1/10 of a mile to go.

The emotions of that moment are something you truly have to experience to understand.

It has been said that you can only do something for the first time once – and when it comes to the marathon or half-marathon, crossing that first finish line is something that truly lives up to the hype.

Yes, when I hit the line on Sunday I will be happy to reach it and immediately I will reflect on the race, what I did well, what I could have done better and what I need to do over the next 4 weeks to be in a position to really go for it in New York and run the best marathon I have ever run.

It will be my fourth finish in the half-marathon.  I have run each one of them faster than the last.




That streak of three consecutive PR’s in the half-marathon is almost certain to end on Sunday.  Racing this week after last Sunday’s 10K PR at IBM and runs of 8.3 miles on Monday, 16 miles on Tuesday and 10 miles on Wednesday here in Denver at altitude would not normally be the way I would prepare to race a half-marathon.

But this weekend’s race is more about next month’s marathon than anything else.  I’m going to go out like I do at each event and leave everything out there.  I’ll try to lock in at 6:22-6:25 pace over the first two miles and see if that is a pace I can reasonably hope to sustain as the altitude starts chipping away at my oxygen and my ability to keep pushing.

The elevation did not seem to have any affect on me Wednesday morning through 10-miles as I ticked them off at 7:15 pace with spits of:

7:19, 7:28, 7:22, 7:19, 7:07, 7:17, 7:13, 7:13, 7:10, 7:12.

I felt solid and strong throughout and even threw in a few strides on the grass by the South Platte River when I finished my workout.  With two days of rest on Thursday and Friday, then a short 2-mile shakeout on Saturday morning.  I will have prepared this week in identical fashion to my ramp up for the IBM Uptown Classic last weekend.

It worked well for me at the 6.2 mile distance in Austin.  Time will tell if it produces another PR effort on Sunday in Denver.

No matter, the story of this day belongs to Kim.  I will be asking her to write a race report of her experience for me to post here on the blog to see the race through the eyes of a first-timer.  It has been awhile since I have been that runner, crossing over a finish line that at one point in the recent past seemed essentially impossible.

The amazing thing is that once you cross that line, another one almost assuredly presents itself just a bit further down the road.  For Kim, it looks like that line is already on her horizon – the Pittsburgh Marathon this May.

From there?  Who really knows.

All I do know is that when things get tough for me on Sunday – and they will, it is only a matter of when and how bad – I’ll be drawing inspiration to keep going from someone a couple of miles behind me, doing the best she can for as long as she can, which is what this thing is really all about.

Go Kim.