Part I Marathon
Okay, butterflies in my stomach as I think about the challenge I've undertaken. A friend invited me to run the Bangkok Marathon with him on November 21, 2011. I laughed at him initially, but as he is on my softball team and he is former Navy, I couldn't say no (Technically I said "Maybe" hahaha).
Now, I've had some pretty bad leg problems the past couple years, mostly with my right knee which sidelined me from running and even climbing stairs for many months. I also pulled a muscle playing softball (not enough stretching before our game on a very very hot day) which laid me up for half of the softball season. So, the idea of running any farther than 5 kilometers is kind of daunting. I know I can do it but I'm not sure that my body shares that sentiment.
Physical things aside, I really have no time goal, I just want to finish. I know I can finish, but the race organizers have added intermediate time limits at 15km, 18km, 28km, 34km and the final distance of 42.195km. These time limits mean that the race organizers will pull runners off of the course after a certain amount of time so they can open local roads and thoroughfares to morning traffic (something like that). Scary knowing that I have to get past the 15km checkpoint in 2hrs. Here are the other cutoff times:
15 km (9.3 mi.) = 2 hours
18 km (11.1 mi.) = 2 hours 20 minutes
28 km (17.3 mi.) = 3 hours 30 minutes
34 km (21.1 mi.) = 4 hours 40 minutes
42 km (26.2 mi.) = 6 hours
I think I'll be aiming for a sustained, steady 12 minute mile pace...probably get me there!!
I haven't ran farther than 5km at a time for many many years. In fact, I've never participated in a road race of any distance. Marine Corps runs don't count, plus that was 20 years ago when I was a kid with rocket fuel blood, and still then I was only running 18-20 minute 3 mile runs. Some of my buddies were down in the 15-16 range! Freakin' rabbits!
When I left the Marines in 1994, I was running 3 miles in about 24 minutes. This is where I find myself right now...back in the mid-20s for a 5km run. This is acceptable to me, I'm not young anymore, I understand that. But to be able to maintain that kind of pace over 42km is just crazy! I have to work my way up to a comfortable pace in the next few months...again, I'm just concerned about FINISHING the race! In fact, it's more of a "run" for me than a "race".
Right now I'm just nervous. I've registered for the marathon already, but If the next few weeks of training results in my knee giving out again (I have to resist pushing myself too hard too fast, I'm a beginning runner) I'll re-register for either the half marathon or 10km race. I'm cautiously confident that I will be able to line up for the full marathon though!
I have 94 1/2 days to prepare myself physically and mentally for this challenge! I won't be preparing alone though, Pae will be running with me during my short to middle range runs as she is also going to run the 5km race that same day!! Her running also depends on whether she is scheduled for flights that week or not. I'll also be running longer distance runs with my friend, probably on Fridays and weekends as we are both teachers here in Bangkok and that is when we have time to get together when the sun is not so high and hot in the Bangkok sky. It's freakin' hot here!
Part II Personal Bests
Pae and I have been running for the past 2 or 3 weeks. We watch a lot of The Biggest Loser, and it's motivated us to get off of our backsides and to be more active. We've played badminton, kicked the football (soccer) around, gone to the gym, ran at the track and gone for short walks to try to stay active, and to burn lots of the calories that we load up on daily!!! *Thai food rocks**
I try to keep track of some of our run times so we can measure improvement, etc. Yesterday at the gym (treadmill) we both ran personal bests for 5km, again, not including Marines.
Yesterday Pae dropped her best time by almost two minutes!! She ran 5km in 41 minutes flat! Every time she runs she adjusts her running style and mechanics and finds things that feel better, she's found a breathing rhythm that she's comfortable with, something I haven't had any luck with yet *sinus problems*. She's gaining confidence with every run we do. Watching her run now compared to even just three weeks ago, I can see such a difference in her stride, her posture, she looks comfortable, focused and confident! I know she'll definitely improve on that time and be in the thirties by this time next year, even with the challenge of finding time and energy to run when she's also flying 12-20 days per month and splitting time living between Bangkok and Australia.
Pae hopped off of the treadmill and stretched so I figured I'd hop on for a quick 5k after a half hour of spinning. I threw on my Korean pop music playlist and got to it between 12 and 16 kmh on the treadmill. The week before I had run a 23:42. Last night I shaved 17 seconds off of that (23:25), probably by running the last 400 meters between 14-16 kmh with Pae cheering me on. I know these times don't sound spectacular, but they're what our bodies and experience are capable of after less than a month of running. We'll get better, we'll continue to enjoy our runs and running together. The important thing is that we're moving our bodies instead of succumbing to a sedentary couch potato lifestyle.
Now I just need to similarly commit myself to a healthier, more nutritious diet!! Muhahahahaha!!