thanks Luke for sharing your experience.
Running a half marathon for the first time earlier this year was fun. The word "marathon" is in the title, which sounds very impressive, but so is the word "half", which softens the horror of doing a long distance run for the first time. "Half marathon" is not as scary as "Very Hard 21km." Though I had run 10km numerous time without problem, the push to another level was exciting but as with any first time, a small source of anxiety. I sat down and talked myelf into the senisble approach; 8 weeks of training, realistic goals, new shoes, lots of stretching.... all the right things to keep me on track for success. Planning for success. The day of came and I woke up a half hour before my alarm went off (6:30am on a SATURDAY!) Refreshed, I had a small breakfast and reviewed my goals for the day... Half marathon in 1:45mins, running in my target zone of 120bpm, shouldn't be a problem. Put on my shorts, tied my shoes up tight, and headed out the door. Preparing for success.
Approximately 10km into the marathon, my heart rate monitor broke. The screen went blank, and started beeping out of control, which as anyone else can attest to became very annoying, very quickly. I tossed the watch aside which addressed my immediate problem, but it brought on a new reality... how I was going to deal with this unexpected hurdle? With all the training, the preparation, the first half in the bag... do I let it rattle my concentration, and lose focus, or do I accept the challenge, rise up to conquer it and face adversity head on.
Having kept a healthy pace and being in tune with my body, I decided to pickup up the pace slightly. Within a few minutes, I caught up to a pair of runners coasting at a pace slightly ahead of my own. After a quick point to my wrist and few words, I joined them on their run. At first I was worrying about endurance and my split times until I realized this was A) wasting energy and B) sabotoging my afternoon (not to mention all my training). With 3km to go, I hit the wall (better yet, the wall hit me.) I figured this might happen and was actually relieved it came much later than expected. My mantra became "one foot in front of the hour." Eventually I crossed the finish line. The damage? 1:38mins. How did this happen? 1:45 would have been a personal best (By 2 and a half minutes over training)... Discussing this with one of the other training coaches, we came to a realistic conclusion. Reviewing.
Too often we are tied to our programs, our plans, our zones, our times, our... everything but our bodies. While all the elements I just mentioned are vital keys to any succesful program, (without them I wouldn't have found myself feeling ready on race morning) however, when adversity strikes as it did, the aids I used to train myelf became irrelevant, and I was left with one remaining piece of the puzzle; my body. The decision was quick (mulling over it and feeling sorry for myself were far too easy options) and though I briefly questioned my decisions later in the race, it was truly the only was I was going to come out feeling great - giving it my all. Posting a personal best was already a goal, but I had managed to outdo myself just by listening to my body.
~ Luke Purm