Monday, June 27, 2011

carmel half-marathon: luxe & reduxe pt. 1

This past Saturday, June 11th, I ran my first half-marathon, my first competitive race since running a near-anonymous and painfully-slow 800 meters at some year-end 7th grade track meet. From then on, I played soccer year round through high school, and though my Dad coached high school track for thirty-plus years, it bored me to even entertain the thought of running without chasing a ball. Even 4 months ago, I would've said the same thing. No longer!

Dad on-track right before retiring from the coaching game. Fitting that hurdles are in the shot, as that was his event in high school. The last time I ran them, in seventh grade, I bit it hard on the cinder track at Bon Air Middle School. It may have even been while warming up, although if it was the race, I must've finished. That night under the tub faucet, I dug the leftover charcoal bits out of my new-scabbed knee with a screwdriver.

Fast-forward through 8 years of non-exercise, undergraduate degree-working, cheap (and then craft) beer-loving, live rock-and-roll playing & touring, off-the-grid living; I eventually ended up in Indianapolis with a full-time job, making enough money so that I no longer had to live on Oriental-flavored ramen, bananas, and pasta (my one-year Bloomington diet). Fairly sedentary, I was cooking and eating pretty well, depending on my always-active metabolism to keep me DeBoy-thin. I gained some pounds, had a nice little belly going on at, yes, 160+ pounds. Doesn't sound like much, but I never even approached 150 in high school, despite eating 5 times a day.

In the Fall of 2009, a friend from high school contacted me about playing indoor soccer at the nice facility at Carmel's Off the Wall Sports. I agreed, and immediately thought that if I was going to pay to play (not to mention drive all the way to, blech, Carmel), then I better at least try to get back into some sort of shape. My first run was twice around a pathetically small neighborhood loop:

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Roughly .6 of a mile, two laps left me breathless, sore, sucking wind and holding my arms up and behind my head (I must not be the only person who finds this posture relaxing...). Wow, I was way more out-of-shape than I thought. With my history of soccer and still slim frame, I falsely assumed I was in fair shape, or at least more fair than most Americans. Wrong.

The first game was brutal, sprinting back and forth on Astroturf, the thick taste of sweating in cold weather in my mouth. Lactic acid build-up hit me immediately, and an offensive run, even down the small field, reduced me to a gasping, ineffective defender. I wasn't in shape at all. I ran a few times a week through the fall, then halted for winter, not ready to test the icy streets of the near-east side.

Asics GEL-DS Trainer 16. I thought running shoes were a farce, but as it turns out, my Dad's words were gospel truth. "Pay now, or pay later." Been running relatively pain-free since switching to these.

Amelia bought me really nice running shoes (my first pair) for my birthday in January of 2010, though it was really not till March till I started running again. I built up to a roughly 3-mile loop, running mostly mornings, especially once the heat of summer hit. I tried to run 3 days a week, plus the weekly soccer game, and began to feel better durning those as the summer progressed. In early fall, battling morning stomach-aches, my doctor advised me to run evenings instead, so I made the switch. After a vacation out West, I stopped soccer entirely, and began to focus on running. Using a wall calendar, I believe I ran about 150 days in 2010, with a goal of achieving at least 180 in 2011.

In December, I finally made the leap to join a local gym, though not just any. NIFS, or the National Institute for Fitness and Sport, features an indoor running track, among other amenities. This allowed me to begin timing my runs, and knowing pretty exact distances I was completing. For shorter runs, I began aiming for a 7-minute-mile pace (for 4 to 5 miles; still not quite there, as my fastest timed 4-miler is 28:05), while on longer runs (8+ miles), I tried to keep to a 8-minute-mile pace. At this point, I was running 4 or 5 times a week, with some bike-work or sprinting following most sessions. The NIFS indoor track has a little rubberized bounce to it, and is more forgiving than pavement, not to mention not having to look out for stray dogs, speeding minivans, and new-sprouted potholes.

At some point, I mentally decided I should run a half-marathon. Unfortunately, when the sign-up for the Indy Mini, I was dealing with a knee tweak, and didn't sign up since I wasn't sure how long it would be till I was at full-strength again. The Mini sold out quickly, and buying someone else's pass seemed an option for a minute, till I realized I didn't want to pay the transfer fee. So I settled on the Carmel Half-Marathon, the inaugural running of the race, found on a flier at NIFS. Yeah, I slag on Carmel and anyone else who lives in "Indy" but resides outside the 465 loop (suburbanites!); but I allowed myself to feel like I could run in their race. At least the streets would be better, I thought, with the kind of tax base that could pay for this. Plus, I run by myself, so a smaller crowd than the Mini's ~35,000 seemed more my speed. So I signed up...

Yeah...I did not wanna be in the middle of this, sandwiched between Carmelites with their sport beans and hairy dudes with iPods blaring their shitty, uptempo 92.3 playlist... That said, I'll probably run it next year.

Part two (the race!) to follow.

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