On December 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm after a cheeseburger and frings (half fries, half onion rings) and a couple of winter ales at the Cherry Cricket in Denver, one of my best friends (Lisa) and I signed a "contract" on the back of the specials menu.
Valentine's Day 5k in Wash Park ("Wash" is short for Washington, but nobody in Denver calls it Washington Park). It took me 40 minutes to run 3.15 miles and I had never been so proud of myself in my adult life. Having never run a race before, and probably never even running 2 miles before this event, it was nothing short of amazing that I finished at all. And if you'll remember, the sense of pride completely overwhelmed me and I spent the day in tears.
The training continued as we had registered for the Colfax Half Marathon. Every Saturday morning, Lisa and I met for our long runs. As we toured the neighborhoods of Wash Park (think: half-a-million for 1500 square feet) and into the Downtown Denver area, every week our run would end and I would think, "Wow! I really am making progress. I think I could go another mile." And so we ran and ran and ran for 12 weeks. May 15 brought cold, misty, yucky weather and my first ever 13.1 Having partially torn my calf muscle, I was worried about the cold weather. But it turns out that not only would I be A-OK, I would run the whole thing a minute per mile faster than the 5K only 12 weeks before.
And the running continued. After dubbing this to be "The Summer of Run" about 2 weeks later, on Memorial Day, I ran the second-largest 10K race in the United States with 56,000 of my closest friends: The Bolder Boulder. That was an experience and a lot of fun. My body was still trying to recover from the "half" but I managed to run that thing 30 seconds per mile faster than I had run the half. Which is about right. It's about half the distance of a half marathon.
With only a week off, we started over with the training plan to prepare for the Diva's Half Marathon in Vail, CO. The training on this go-round has been lackluster, to say the least. I don't feel as strong or prepared for 13.1. Part of the problem is the weather. That's right, the weather. Running in heat and humidity is NO FUN AT ALL! It zaps the life right out of me. Bring on 38 degrees w/mist and snow any day. For as much as I wished for summer running, I am now wishing it away. My pace has picked up a bit too. Last weekend I ran 9 miles with an average pace of 11:45. That's a good 30 seconds per mile faster than the first half I ran. And in exactly 12 days, I will run another 13.1. Only this time at 8,000 feet rather than 6,000. It should be interesting. But as I've said before, I am in it for the pink feather boa and the tiara just before crossing the finish line. And because it's chicks only, rather than a beer tent, we get a champagne toast. My goal for this one is a step beyond the last: Rather than just finish, I want to finish without needing a medic. At that altitude, I am not sure what to expect. But unless the medic looks like John Stamos with a voice like Matthew McConaughey, I don't want to meet him (or her).
In 12 days I will be out of events to train for. But with three trips in September (two personal and one business) and two in October (one personal and one business) it's OK to not stress about long runs. Lisa and I have kicked around the idea of registering for another half that's in October but the entry fee is $100. And after the end of October there aren't many half-marathons in the Denver area until the spring. Maybe we will take a month off. Maybe we will register for an out-of-towner at sea-level (I have my sights set on the Tinkerbell run through Disneyland at night). Or maybe we'll decide to go for the gusto and run a full marathon next year in which case, we need all the time we can get to double our longest distance.
Regardless of what Lisa and I do next, I am already looking forward to our next adventure and a new beginning.