Four weeks ago, we started training for a half marathon. Over the past year, we ran a few 5Ks and one 8K (and Eric ran a 15K last weekend), but, until recently, distance has not been our focus. However, we’ve always wanted to run a half marathon, so this is as good a time as any to begin training for one.
Our “coach” is nikerunning.com. We created an account when we picked up the Nike Plus iPod Sport Kit last year. After each run, we plug our iPods into our computers and each run syncs to nikerunning.com. It’s convenient to track runs and we can get our pace stats and mileage on the go with the push of a button.
The Nike Running website also offers challenges (for example, we’ve run over 211 miles in the year 2011, but not quite 365 miles in 365 days). They also offer training programs, including a half marathon training program for beginners. We’re 4 weeks into a 12 week program.
We signed up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in St. Pete, which is scheduled for February 12, 2012. We plugged that date into nikerunning.com and it gave us our 12-week training program, which we downloaded and synced with our google calendars.
During Week 1 of training, our longest scheduled run was 6 miles. That seemed far, but we had started running that distance at the beginning of 2011 before I broke my toe, so although it seemed to be a considerable distance, it was within the realm of possibility. During the 2nd and 3rd weeks, our longest scheduled runs were 7 miles. While those were more intimidating, once I completed that distance in week 2, I wasn’t particularly worried about week 3. However, Week 4 called for an 8 mile run. I was a bit apprehensive.
We started running with a group on Saturday mornings. People run at their own paces for their chosen distances, but we all meet up at the end if we get separated. Eric and I mapped out our run before meeting the group on Saturday. One thing (of many) that I love about St. Petersburg is that we have so many trails and parks along the water, so the runs never get boring and it’s easy to add mileage.
Completing an 8 mile run feels somehow exponentially more fulfilling than finishing a 7 mile run. I don’t know if it’s because 8 miles is almost 1/4 further than the halfway point to 13.1 miles (yup, I’m pushing it). Or, maybe it’s because 8 miles is 3 miles further than the 5 mile distance I’m relatively comfortable running. Or, maybe it’s because, after running south to the downtown area, we ran several miles north to Coffee Pot Bayou where, as we curved around the bend and looked across the water, we could see the skyline.
That’s when I realized why people run. That’s the key distance – where I can begin to explore the area without worrying how close I am to my start line. Where I can appreciate the city I live in and the smells and scenery along the water and where I can observe the people in this amazing little city, which is packed with walkers, runners, bikers, and outdoor fitness clubs. I love St. Pete and all of its idiosyncrasies. Saddest city? They obviously haven’t taken an 8 mile run around here.