After the fall: Preparing for a ½ marathon

Note: This column appears in the 1/8 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 1/9 issue of the Peoria Times

One month before we moved to Arizona, I ran in a popular five-mile road race in New Jersey. To make a very long story very short, I did not finish. Because I collapsed. I wish I were joking.

About four months ago I received a phone call from my mom, who excitedly informed me that she had signed up to join Team in Training and was coming out to Arizona to participate in the PF Chang’s ½ Marathon. Because I had not run a race since my brilliant showing in NJ, I figured this was my opportunity to get back on the ol’ saddle. The way I figured it: There’s only one thing to do when you collapse after running 4.8 miles, and that’s to sign up to run 13.1 miles.

Well, race day is fast approaching -- it’s on Sunday, January 18th -- and I am feeling a mixture of nervousness, excitement, nausea, and hatred for PF Chang himself. My mom has been part of a team-oriented training regiment since she signed up, and has already fast-walked a full 13.1 in preparation for the race. She is like a fast-walking Kenyan at this point. I, on the other hand, have been left to my own devices. I started training in October, because that was when the weather finally dropped to a brisk 97-degrees. I have been doing well, but the last time I felt ready for a race, I ended up in the ambulance, so it’s hard to say.

Contrary to what my embarrassing episode would imply, I do have running experience. In fact, it was ultimately my overconfidence that cost me that day -- I did not eat or drink anything before the race, and the humidity that day was approximately 112%. It was a wake-up call though, which is why I have been focused this time around on other factors besides what color t-shirt I will get at the end and where the after-party is. For example, nutrition has become important. Go figure!

Throughout my training, I have been making sure that I eat before each run. This, unfortunately, has raised a new set of problems, namely, finding a food that doesn’t make me sprint back to my house 15 minutes after I leave. But I hear this upcoming race has Port-a-Johns, so as extremely uncomfortable as that would be, I’m not overly concerned.

And it’s not just eating before the run that’s important. Apparently, when you run for over an hour, it’s crucial to eat during the run. My rule of thumb had always been: if you are eating while running, then you are running too far. But now I am forced to do just that. In fact, one of my Christmas presents this year was several gel packs. (Worst Christmas ever.) If you have never had a gel pack before, it’s basically a smorgasbord of nutrients made into a gel and jammed into a handy pack. You can imagine how tasty they are. But I know that they work, because that’s what they gave me to eat in the ambulance.

This week, the training intensifies. I will keep you up to date on my progress, because I know how much you care. In the meantime, I am headed to PF Changs this weekend, because I have a 15%-off card for signing up for this stupid race. It’s the least he could do.


Lisa R said…
Love PF Changs. I would recommend the Mongolian Beef know. I love their lettuce wraps...perhaps you should try those. And their garlic noodles are yummy
Gail said…
Mike, I am one of your mom's coaches and she has been dedicated to her training throughout the season. I have no worries that she will finish the race. I just hope you will succeed this time around. Good luck on Sunday!
Bob said…
Is Larry the Light House running?
Judy said…
With my luck I'll be seated between Larry and Wendy the Windmill all the way to Phoenix!
Great article as usual Mike! See you at the finish line!
Jason said…
Wait a minute, don't be so quick to downplay your running skills. I saw with my own two eyes a running race in which you handily beat a certain N.J. publisher that shall not be named. The fact that he was a Macaroni grill enthusiast may have helped you, however you were laughing the whole time and ran some of it backwards to handicap it evenly. Im with you. Can you blog and run?