Monday, March 3, 2008

Managing Expectations

I guess I should preface this whole blog with a little about me. My running story, if you will.

As a kid, I was a horrible runner. I guess I had really bad form, because during little league baseball - which I was otherwise quite good at - and gym class, I'd get mocked for running so strangely. I remember in 6th grade during "Field Day" my friend and I decided on the 100 or 200 yard run or something that we'd go out slow and kick it at the end to beat everyone... yeah, I didn't have any kick at the end, at all. So I just was a poor runner.

Never ran in high school, never ran in any competition of any kind. I loved to play sports, but nothing organized. I played pick-up basketball games, some soccer, ultimate frisbee, softball, etc. I think playing all these sports whenever I could strengthened my skeletal and muscular systems, which has enabled me so far (knock on wood) to avoid any serious running injuries.

Come Spring of 2002, and I decided I wanted to run. I'd gone for jogs in the past, but rarely a mile, and rarely consistantly. I wanted to lose weight and get in better shape. In 2001 I had taken up mountain biking, and was loving that on Saturday mornings, but my friends would always beat me to the top of the mountain. It was time to get in shape.

I started running before work. I remember the day that I completed a quarter mile without walking. I was pleased. The thing was I was being consistant. I'd run 3 or 4 days a week. I'd found the forums on Runner's World, and that kept me motivated. That August I entered my first 5k (the one that goes with the Provo River half) and finished in, I think, 35:00 (no clock for the 5k-ers, only for the Half Marathoners). My brother-in-law ran the half that day, which was an inspiration -- you know, what the "real" runners do.

I kept running after that, until in October of 2002 my wife, pregnant with our second baby, went into labor at 32 weeks. She became a resident of the Women's Center at St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake for 3 weeks, effectively making me a single dad of a 2-year old. I couldn't really run with an unsupervised 2 year old, so I basically stopped. And then it got cold, and I didn't really want to run in the cold. So that was that.

I remember one day in the winter of 2004 when I was riding the bus to work, I was sitting at the bus stop waiting for the 5:30 a.m. bus in the really really cold weather of January or so, and a guy ran through the bus stop, obviously out for an early morning run. He was all bundled up, but he was out running. In the cold. It made me think.

Come February or March of 2005, and my little sister who had run the 5k with me in '02 asked me if I wanted to train for and run the half marathon with her that year. I said "sure"... and I began training again. I entered a 5k in SLC for June 2, and ran a PR 33:15. I just wanted to beat my time from the only other race I'd done. I ran a 10k on the 4th of July in Provo that year, and finished in 1:05 something - still the only 10k I'd done. Come late July/early August, and my sister says she's not going to do the half because she hadn't been running. I'm already registered, so I run it anyway, and finished in 2:30:37 (my goal was 2:30).

During that half, I broke the cardinal rule of "Don't try anything new on race day." I was running in shoes that were essentially a gift, no idea if they were the right kind for me or anything, and they were getting old... the bottom of my feet were hurting after my long runs (10 miles or so). So I figured I'd get new insoles. Well, that day the insoles gave me HUGE blisters on the insides of my arches... and one of them tore as I was trying to treat it, giving me a very awkward limp for a couple of weeks while it healed. This limp led to an odd pain when I tried to run, so for most of that winter, running was pretty much over.

2006 began with my wife and I expecting our third baby, and me running occasionally... just enough to be running. I did one 5k in the Spring, and PR'd at 31:52. I think I topped out with a 9.99 miler in April. More baby complications led to running stopping in August for a while again. I picked it up again in December, deciding that '07 would be the year I ran a marathon. I don't know why that goal surfaced then, just that it did. And I'm glad it did, because it kept me running in the cold of December and January.

In April I took $60 of tax return money and registered for the St. George Marathon lottery. The lottery results came out on May 8th, and initially, I wasn't on the list. I remember waking up that morning, not seeing my name, and being somewhat disappointed, but also somewhat relieved. That's a big commitment to have out there. Then the webpage got fixed and all of a sudden I was in. Yikes.

So with no complications, I trained for (poorly, but that's another post) and ran the 2007 SGM, finishing well behind my 5 hour goal at 5:35:36. During the training I also ran the Provo Half again, this time finishing in 2:19 something.

Now I've got the bug to do another marathon or more, and to train more appropriately, and get that sub-5. I am actually excited to see what more intense and more appropriate training will do for my marathon time. To that end, I've registered for the Ogden Marathon this upcoming May 17. And maybe, just maybe, someday, there will be a BQ in my future. Maybe.

No comments: