Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nike+ Women's Half Marathon Recap: The Preparation

Week 9 of my training plan had a half marathon race. Um, right. That's not happening in New England in January (side note: there is a half marathon and marathon in February in Cape Cod, MA which sells out well in advance every year. The weather is completely unpredictable at that time of year. Who are these crazy people?). There were no half marathons anywhere remotely close to me that lined up with my training schedule. I wasn't going to travel for a training race either.

In December, I found out about the Nike+ Women's Half Marathon, a virtual race that lined up perfectly with Week 9. Yes, the $40 entry fee for a virtual race seemed steep, but $10 went to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and you got a bracelet afterwards. I would have preferred a T-shirt, but I'll take a bracelet. Kinda like a medal, right? $40 was way cheaper than traveling somewhere. The idea was to run wherever you are (On the treadmill? Outside? Either was a possibility depending on the weather) and sync a Nike+ run of at least 13.1 miles.

Hmmm. If I plunked down $40, I better well run hard. Seemed like the extra push I needed to actually race on my own.

Then I came up a crazy idea. I thought it would be a huge confidence booster to attempt to race (and unofficially PR) a half marathon on the treadmill. Go to the gym, load the treadmill up with a towel, water, Gatorade, and shot bloks, pick a time when there was something interesting on TV, make a playlist with my favorite songs, set the pace on the treadmill to about 7:45 per mile, run run run, and hope I could keep up. I don't particularly mind the treadmill, but 13.1 miles is a long way to run on a treadmill. The most I had done on a treadmill was 14 miles and at a much slower pace. Could I hold on to sub-8 on a treadmill? I knew I could run sub-8 for 8 miles ... outside. 13, though? On a treadmill? Crazy.

The only way to see if you can do something is to try to do it. You just might surprise yourself.

There are a couple of advantages to running on a treadmill. It is climate-controlled. The treadmill sets the pace for you so you don't have to think about pacing. It can be perfectly flat (although I set the incline to 1% so that it is like running on a flat surface). But there are some disadvantages. It can be incredibly boring. The scenery doesn't change. It is very tempting to stop if you are tired. You don't have other runners to help pace you.

Race recap coming up in another post ...

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