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Athens Half Marathon Prequel

With the approaching Athens Half Marathon that my “good friend” Will talked me into doing with some other friends I thought this would make for a perfect post. Maybe not truly perfect but the pictures of me during the event clutching onto my last breadth and life should be entertaining enough. But before we get there you have to know the prequel or you won’t care about the characters….if you even will after.

So the story is…well Will thought old roommates should run the half marathon at the end of October and…well that’s it. I’m not sure why I agreed or even how I ever did but I’m in it and in it to win finish it. With two months before the big event, I knew I had to start training immediately. I’ve run maybe 3.11 miles (5k) previously in high school when I was on the cross country team (soccer purposes only) but that’s the furthest distance I’ve ever completed without walking it all and I’m not in high school any more.

I began running around where I worked at the end of the day in order to get into shape and kill time for traffic to die down. Well after only a few days into training, I knew something was up. My legs were in some much pain that there wasn’t a day where I wasn’t sitting at home with ice packs on my knees. Didn’t take me long to realize it was an issue in my shoes. What can I say? I’m cheap and I just thought I could get through this with the crappy shoes that I had. I was, of course, wrong and broke down buying some legitimate shoes thanks to a running store in San Francisco. With reasonable prices and a great staff to help me pick the perfect shoe for my style of running, I settled on the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10. Talk about running on air, these shoes made me pull a 180 on running. Instead of a chore, it became something I looked forward to at the end of the day.

I had the shoes, the drive, and being a geek, I now needed the data. That’s right. I love all things tech and with my Android smartphone (HTC Eris) I had apps that could help me track my performance and training. I settled on RunKeeper only because of other friends using it as well and helping to cheer me along in the process. It tracks my time, distance, pace, elevation, and pretty much any other statistic I would want. I’m debating paying for the pro capabilities only to gain more data. We shall see.
Anyway, here’s the data from my latest run of 10 miles. I’m two weeks away and I had two primary goals: Complete 10 mile run prior to the Half Marathon and run under 10 minutes a mile. I’ve completed one of the two but I’m dangerously close to that second.

Figure 1: Pace during the 10 Mile Run

Yes, I know the first thing out of most runners mouth when looking at that graph. I am not a consistent pace kind of guy. Its hard for me to slow my pace and keep it across the length of my runs. If I have the power and I want to run it now. Sure this makes me look like an EKG but my overall pace goal is on target. Here’s another breakdown.

Figure 2: Further Breakdown of Pace during the 10 Mile Run

First, don’t let the last number fool you. The 11th mile was only .10 miles in length so I hope it was averaging at 4. On record to date, my best mile run came earlier this week during a 3 mile run where I clocked in at 6:43 on my first mile. Yes that was with a -128 ft elevation but I’d say that is still fast.
Now with the half only two weeks away my training is winding down. I feel well prepared and I’ve even experienced the runner’s high (it’s amazing). The only real variables I’m worried about now are the climate and the course. Training in SF is not the same as Athens but it will be late October so hopefully there will be less humidity. I’ve experienced several days here of running in 100 degree weather but humidity is its own beast. The course only worries me because I’m not as well prepared on hills. Sure, I live in SF and could have found the hills but my training ground is in Pleasanton and I didn’t have any.

Anyway, to conclude, I’ve enjoyed this process more than I ever thought I would. I look forward to running days and feel terrible when I miss out on a chance to run. It is my new stress reliever and it works wonders. For those thinking of preparing for a half marathon after not really running prior, here’s one final chart of a breakdown of how much I was doing on my way to the event.

Figure 3: Weekly Break Down of Distance

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Brittany Says:
October 9th, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Congrats Ben! It’s really hard to believe that a new pair of fitted running shoes will make that much of a difference, but they really do.

See you in Athens. I’ll be the pregnant lady jealous of all you people running the half!

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