Tuesday, April 24, 2012

[The Corey Project] It's not the 13 miles that get you; it's the last .1

This seems like a fitting end to The Corey Project series.

If you've been following me on Twitter or Facebook for the past three months, you've probably been annoyed with my Runkeeper postings and running rants. That's because after 12 weeks of training, I ran in the Charlotte RaceFest half marathon in the SouthPark area April 14. 

It was my first organized race of any length, outside of my one year of track in high school. (Yes, I ran track in high school.) My goal was to run all 13.1 miles. I didn't accomplish that, but I'm still proud of finishing the race. 

Before starting the training, my longest run was four miles and I had only done that twice. I considered three miles a "long weekend run." The idea of running five miles during the second week terrified me. Now I can run five and six miles without too much trouble. 

The training went really well well until my 10-mile long weekend run. Whether it was mental or physical, I struggled with every training run more than 10 miles. My long runs for the last four weeks were really, really bad, which is why I was worried about the actual race. If I couldn't run 10 miles straight in a training run, how was I supposed to run 13 on race day? 

That's why, despite not completing my goal of running the whole thing, I'm happy with my finish. 

The weather was perfect: sunny but cool all morning.I started out running a 10-minute mile pace, slower than I normally do but it felt good. I made it nine miles without stopping, except for a quick pause to grab a cup of Gatorade at mile eight. 

After nine miles, things started to go downhill. Actually, uphill. The end of the course winds through the very hilly Foxcroft neighborhood. My legs were exhausted by that point and I had to walk on the first big hill after the nine-mile mark. For the last four miles, I alternated walking and running. I ran the last mile to finish strong. 

I finished the half marathon in two hours and 28 minutes, slower than I would have liked but still respectable. It averages out to about an 11:30 mile pace, including the walking. I was tired after, but felt good. 

I don't plan on running half marathons often, but I would like to go through training again and run an entire race. The best thing that came from my training is the ability to run for longer distances. I hope to keep going on three- and four-mile runs during the week and saving longer, five- or six-mile runs, for the weekends. I also want to improve my speed so that when I decide to train for another half, I will be at a faster pace and will be ahead of where I was when I started training for this one. 

I never expected to run a half marathon. At the beginning of The Corey Project, I hated running. I still don't love it, but it has become a part of my life. 

Since starting The Corey Project about a year and a half ago, I've lost about 65 pounds. I would still like to lose a little more, but I couldn't be happier with my progress. 

I will continue to update my fitness progress here, though posts won't come as frequently as they did at the beginning. Thanks to everyone that has supported me and offered advice during my project and my half marathon training. I couldn't have done it without you guys. 

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