Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How To Eat An Elephant

So, somewhere in my complex and ever-so-slightly warped sense of taking on challenges, I decided that I would sign up for - and ostensibly run - a half-marathon this fall.

It's something I started spouting the second I finished the marathon relay last year; six miles to hand off a velcro "baton" to my teammate in the middle of Druid Hill Park. The relay was so much fun, and six miles - why that's nearly halfway there! If I can pull off six miles, I can certainly pull off 13.1. They're practically the same, really.


But, here's the thing: if I say I'm going to do something, and I mean really say it - not like that whole "I'M MOVING TO NEW YORK" half-decade of my life, or the time I was going to move to a writer's camp in Vermont for a summer and cut off all communication with everyone, or the time I thought I might convert to Judaism, or that one fall when I realized that my entire life's work was wrapped up in writing a screen play (and all of this is making me re-think my frequent announcements of Things I Am Going To Do!) - I'mma do it. Mostly. All ostentatious claims aside.

I think the biggest step was plunking down that $85 for an entry fee. Nothing like the greater part of a hundred bucks to say, "Yep, I'm in. Let's do this thing."

The next biggest step was the procurement of a decent training plan. I have many friends who've dared the half before (and some, like Legs, who have gone full-tilt batshit crazy and done an entire marathon), and so I asked for their plans. Everyone's got one, most are cobbled together from racing sites, running groups, even some books and training manuals. Putting together your own plan, however, is a delicate and personal thing.

I'm 11 weeks to the big event, and already running 4-6 miles on a regular basis. My minimal runs (maintenance runs) are about 3-4 miles, and once a week I'll try to log 5-6 as a long run. I ran the Survivor 7-Miler in June with a bit of aplomb, so I like to think that somewhere in my muscle memory I could dredge up 10 miles if I had to. In two weeks, I have a 6-mile run (at night...on the NCR trail...no lights...just moon...). Somewhere in the next two months, however, I have to find 13.1 miles in me. 12 tops to train, then 13.1 for the big day.

It would not be outrageous of me to say that this is one of the bigger challenges I've faced. Writing a thesis, getting a job, running 7 miles...all of those things required diligence and patience and work. Sure. But 13.1 miles is not 7 miles. And this is not something you half-ass.

My goal: I will not walk. I can slow down, I can jog, but I Will. Not. Walk.

What both complicates and makes things easier at the same time is that I have partners in crime. Catalano, my dad, and my boyfriend have all signed up for this adventure too. I will have running friends, we will all push one another, and while we may not cross the finish line all together, we will finish just the same. However solo I've wanted to be in my tasking in the past, having a group of people taking on the same challenge is pretty encouraging.

And then we will drink gallons upon gallons of free beer. It will be glorious.

So, I'm two days into the "eat the elephant one bite at a time" training. That saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time," reverberates. How am I gonna run a half marathon? One mile at a time. I did three last night. Four this morning. Good start.

One bite at a time.

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