Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

otherwise known as “Lessons from ‘A Hero’s 5k”

(alert…text heavy)

Let’s go back in time to October 30, 2010. This chilly Saturday morning I lined up to run my very first half marathon. I had followed Hal Higdon’s novice training plan to the tee. The only time I ever skipped a workout was if I literally could not fit it in that day. (I think that happened less than 5 times over 3 months.) I knew that I would be thrilled just to finish. I had no idea how my body would feel because the longest I had ever run before that time was 10.4 miles. I did not have a garmin and had no idea what my average pace was.

I finished in 1:59:56. Wow. I never thought I could run that fast.

I got cocky.

I ran my next race, a 5k, 2 weeks later and smashed my previous time. I ran 24:45, 4 minutes faster than my last 5k. The next 2 5ks I ran I finished within 3 seconds of that time.

Then I signed up for the Hilton Head Half Marathon and started training again.

I was not as diligent with my workouts. Each week of this training I have circled at least one workout. (meaning I did not do it) Occasionally it was because I literally could not fit the work out in. Most of the time though I was just lazy. I no longer had a personal trainer. (could not afford it) I decided that I did not like tempo runs so I just did intervals when I should have done tempos.

Then I ran the Greenville News Run Downtown 2 weeks ago. I missed my PR by 15 seconds. Did I run slower? Maybe. I did start at the back of the pack.

I decided that I wanted to “redeem” myself from that run and run a smaller 5k. I also really wanted to run “A Hero’s 5k”. I knew Geoffrey personally and I could not pass up the chance to run to honor his ultimate sacrifice.

I got cocky.

I thought, “This is the course I got my PR on. I can do it again, easily.”

Did I?


I started off way too fast. In the first quarter mile I looked down at my garmin to see 6:44. Whoa. I slowed it down. Then my shoe came untied. Nice. I stopped, tied it and then continued. I still felt like I was going to fast. When the garmin beeped I pressed the lap button and saw 7:44. Yes, too fast.

Mile 2: The steepest hill I have ever run is here. I kept telling myself that I had run a PR on this course with this hill before but the hill wiped me out. I did not feel the same for the rest of the race. I actually felt a little nauseous. Time? 8:18 Not bad if you include that hill.

Mile 3: I got very discouraged. During the first 1/2 I kept pushing but then I knew I couldn’t push any longer. For the first time ever I walked. I kissed my PR goodbye but knew I had to walk if I wanted to finish strong. I ran again but kept hitting that wall. With .4 left I walked for .1 and then took off as fast as I could make myself run. Time? 8:33 (I couldn’t believe that when I saw it on my garmin!)

The last nub…6:49

Overall? 25:49 with an average pace of 8:06 Not bad at all.

What did I learn?

I cannot shortchange training. If I want to get faster I have to train. If I want to get faster I have to fuel my body well. If I want to get faster I have to accept setbacks. If I want to get faster I have to lose the ego.

Next Saturday I run my second half marathon. Will I get the same time as the first? Probably not. Am I okay with that? Yesterday? No. Today? Yes.

I’ve already registered for my third half. As soon as I finish the second I will celebrate the finish. I will let my body recover and then I will commit to training for half number 3.


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