Monday, January 18, 2010

Chevron Houston Half Marathon epilogue

In January of 2009 one of the ambitions for the year was to train for a marathon. I started training with the 2010 Chevron Houston Marathon in mind, but then became inspired to take it a step farther.
Way back in the late 1990's I started riding my bike--far. I started participating in the MS150 events in Texas, which are a series of 150 mile or longer bike rides across this fair state. I rode in a pair of MS150 rides and decided the next year that I wouldn't "train" for the Houston MS150, but rather would train to be able to ride MS150s whenever they might come up so that I could ride the Houston ride, then follow up with the Dallas ride 2 weeks later.
When I began my marathon "training" in 2009 I stumbled into a "natural man" philosophy of running that suggested man's natural state is to be able to traverse long distances while running. This intrigued me because I had always assumed that running marathons was beyond the natural grasp of man. It was, effectively, an extraordinary feat. The reality of the thing is that long distance running is man's natural state and man should be able to simply just run.
Granted, under today's conditions of 10 hour work days and constant, frenetic activity that accomplishes nearly nothing, running ANY distance is an extraordinary feat and a full marathon is superhuman.
Nonetheless, I embarked on a "natural man" philosophy of running. Not so much training for a particular marathon at a particular time, but training to be able to run ANY marathon, ANYTIME. In November the wheels came off of that preparation and I realized I would not be ready for the Houston Marathon (it takes time to rub off the modern patina of industrial life). I chose to switch to the half marathon instead.

How did I do? Remarkably well. My time was 2:23, which the fastest 13.1 miles I've ever run. My last mile was the fastest of all the miles. But that only tells half the story.

You read the stories of the people who train for months and torture themselves on the roads doing all kinds of invented training methodologies. They train their stomachs for GU and carbo fuel bars. They lay it all out on a Sunday morning to nail that 5 hour marathon time and this extraordinary effort leaves them wrecked for a few days, unable to climb stairs or move freely for several days. And they call themselves heroes.

And for the most part they are heroes. They've accomplished an extraordinary feat that few will ever try. I do not wish to diminish that feat whatsoever. The ability for a desk jockey to rise up over the objections of his own body to do something magnificent should ALWAYS be applauded.

However, I've already done that. I wanted to do something more. I wanted to be able to get up the next day and live a normal life. And that is precisely what I accomplished.

I ran 13.1 miles fairly well, but not expertly. I am not wrecked. I will likely go out in the next few days and run ANOTHER 13.1 miles. In 6 weeks I am going to travel to Fort Worth and run 13.1 miles and set another PR. I did not train to run a half marathon, I ran a half marathon because I trained to be a natural runner.

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