Summer of halves? Maybe… maybe not.

The half-marathon at the end of May went really well, all told. I had a lot of support from friends – especially P & T, who managed to combine showing up at the start, finish, and three points in between with doing a huge bicycle ride of their own (the overachievers) – and I ran exactly according to my plan (walk the uphills, jog as much of the rest as possible). I finished in 3 hours 20-odd seconds, which I’m very happy with! The only problem was that a near-faceplant at about mile two had developed into a really painful left knee by about mile 10 (probably from trying to save myself from eating dirt). Still, I enjoyed (!) the race enough that by a few minutes afterwards I was saying that I would do it again – which is a first for me and races.

I took some time off running after that, primarily to let my knee recover. Instead, I went on some bike rides, did some yoga, did some climbing, etc.

Yesterday, however, I decided to go ahead and try to do another entry into the “summer of halves”. Set out from the apartment at about 7:15 am, planning to do a predetermined 13.1-ish mile loop around Lake Union.

I did it – I finished, and in a slightly shorter amount of time than the previous one – but the experience has made me rethink whether the plan to do a half-marathon each month is a good one.

The main problem is my left knee. It started twinging by mile 2 and was full-on aching by mile 6, and the last three miles of the “run” were more like “limp-jog 25 m, walk 200 m, repeat”. Not fun at all. And I spent the rest of the day grimacing every time I had to bend the knee while applying any pressure on it. I’m better today, but going downstairs is still not awesome.

So, of course, what I should do is take more time off, rest the knee more, right? Except the less I run, the less good at running I get. I could tell that my running fitness had declined in just the three weeks since I did the previous run – more time would presumably only make it worse!

Adding to the knee considerations is the fact that my body just simply does not like running long distances. Full stop. And shows that by … being deeply unpleasant in the GI realm for many hours afterwards.

All in all, I’m just not sure that doing two more half-marathons is really a good idea. So I’m toying with other things I could do. What about a half-century? After all, a week ago yesterday I went out for a spur-of-the-moment bike ride and got back home 32 miles later. So 50 just doesn’t seem that far out of reach.

::shrug:: Anyway, I did two half-marathons in the space of three weeks, which is… an accomplishment of some kind, right?


I very nearly signed up for a second half-marathon that is taking place two weeks after the one I’m doing this month. I like the idea of doing another – of having another impetus to keep doing some modicum of training/regular running – but the $100 entrance fee made me pause. Do I really need to spend $100 for, essentially, a bit of bling?

No, of course not. But the idea of having regular races to spur me is still a good one. So, taking inspiration from P and T and their┬áridiculous/awesome Picnic, I’m going to try to do something myself.

My new plan: run a half-marathon at least once a month this summer.

By which I mean I will commit to doing at least one 13.1-mile run every month. I don’t really intend to worry too much about time or anything like that – I don’t for organized races, so why should I for mine? – but that may change. ::shrug:: I don’t know! Maybe I’ll need to introduce a time focus to make up for the fact that otherwise these are just long runs. Who knows?

This will be a good way to get me to keep running, and to get in better shape overall. I want to try to do the Timberline Trail over Labor Day weekend, and might cap off the other end of the Summer of Halves (title is a work in progress) by signing up for an organized half-marathon in September. Again, we’ll see!

When the stick no longer works

Back in January, I did what I periodically do, and decided that I needed to sign up for some sort of arbitrary timed event (read: race) to get me to add running back into my regular rotation of exercise. So I signed up for the Stumptown Trail Half-Marathon, which is happening at the end of this month in Forest Park in Portland. I knew I didn’t want to do another full marathon (I’ve done three, and that seems to be holding strong as “enough”), and I knew that I much prefer trail running to road running. So a half-marathon (this will be my… hm, fifth or sixth?) on the lovely trails of my favorite park seemed ideal. And with five months to go before the race, I had visions of the lean, mean running machine I’d be by the race.

Except that seems to be too far in advance to be an effective prod, now. Because I know that I can procrastinate and not really train and still finish half-marathons – and full marathons, and the occasional self-imposed ultra – on mostly just willpower. Continue reading “When the stick no longer works”