After my 5 mile race I decided to see if I could step up to race a half marathon in March, it would be exactly 2 years since my last half. I wasn’t sure if I could return to this distance, especially after being injured for 12 months and not running for 6 months. I had recently started running with a large running group, 300+ people WeRunMiami, on Tuesday night and was regularly running sub 22 minute 5k’s each week with the group. One week I had a fast run and chased a couple of fast runners down in the last quarter mile and started talking to them after the run, Travis and Omar and they invited me to another run group iRun Miami that does interval training on Monday evenings. I didn’t go for a few weeks as I always had a hard weekend, doing boot camps Saturday morning, riding my ElliptiGo about 15 miles then running a mile with my dog. Sundays we would do our fun mock triathlons, including swimming in the 58 degree ocean which acted as a nice ice bath smoothing my aching joints, then Sunday evening I would do Beach Yoga for 75 minutes. By this time I had challenged Mark to race the half marathon after watching him and 7 others from my running group race the half marathon in Miami, I even renamed it the Half Markathon. Mark is 26 years old and had taken the role of our fastest runner in the Indian Rocks Beach Running Group, a title I wanted back had to start training hard to beat him. I thought I could beat him but he hasn’t ran a fast half yet as he runs in the group for the first 5 miles before stretching out so I wasn’t sure what he was actually capable of, so I knew I had to get serious about my training if I was going to beat him. I felt a sub 1:40 would be good enough but wasn’t sure if I could get down to that speed without my hip objecting again. I knew I would have to take it easy stepping up my mileage from the 15 miles a week I was doing.
So I decided to go to the iRun group to do some faster interval training. The first week I got there about 15 minutes before the group was supposed to start running and saw Omar in the store, he invited me to go on a pre-warm up run before the group. I thought “Oh Crap”, I’m not even sure I can even run the metup let alone do a pre-run but decided to go. We ran over 2.5 miles in the pre-warm up before 1.5 miles warm-up with the group, followed by 4 fast 1 mile runs and a mile cool down. It’s a smaller group of about 90 people that run in a nice quiet neighborhood but have some real fast runners. My longer runs had started and so had the fast runs all in the same session, it was going to be an interesting couple of months. At a Christmas dinner just before dinner my boss had started talking about starting a fitness group and I volunteered to organize this, unfortunately the only night he could do was Monday so now I was doing a travelling boot camp immediately before th interval training and the following evening running the Tuesday night run with a fast 3.5 to 4 mile run. My body was beginning to feel tired all the time, I had planned to race a couple of 5K races leading up to my half but just didn’t believe it would help. However I decided to continue pushing and increasing my weekly mileage, thinking I would be fine if I rested before the half, hopefully that’s true as it’s only a week away now.
The Tuesday after the Miami marathon I got to the run club and saw Omar, he said “Hey I want you to meet a friend of mine”. He introduced me to Ben Slimani who had just finished second in the Miami Marathon with a time of 2:22, we chatted for a couple of minutes and then waited for the group to start. The group has 3 waves, a slow group 12 minutes plus, middle group of 9-12 minutes which is really a 8-10 minute group, and then a fast group which I normally run with. The night before I had ran a hard 9 miles with the iRun group so was just planning on doing an easy run. As the middle group went off Omar left and waived for me to join him, I shouted “are you not running with the fast group” to which he replied “we’re just doing an easy long run, 5 miles or so”. I watched them leave and thought about it for 30 seconds before deciding to chase them, hey it’s not every week you get chance to run with a second place world class marathon runner, he actually won the race 3 years earlier. I caught up with them as we headed to the Rickenbacker Causeway and bridge, there was one other runner Matt who had just ran 1:21 in the Miami half along with Ben and Omar who ran 1:27, completely out of my league. As we hit the bridge they didn’t lose a step, they continues at the same pace and started leaving me as I huffed and puffed up the bridge and had to push hard on the way down to catch them, when I did I said “You don’t lose this old guy that easy”. We ended up running 4 miles out before turning and heading back. Matt stayed with me on the bridge return and then we closed the gap and ran the last couple of mile around a 7 minute pace, I was totally done but felt great. The following couple of weeks Matt found me before the Teusday night run to run with him, I was totally tired after the weekend and Monday night runs but it helped push me in my training. He works at Fit2Run Bayside in Miami and told me they has just started a run group on Thursday evenings and invited me to join them, it was an easy 5 mile run. That part was true but it was 2.5 miles from where I live so now Thursday’s became my long run.
The challenge now is to balance the running with the other activities that returned my health to allow me to run and to increase my mile so I can run a sub 1:40 half. I also decided to try to lose 10 pounds as running with less weight would help and reduce the forces on my hip each time I land. Not that I was overweight at 168 pounds for 5’ 11”, but wanted to get down to 158. I eat pretty decently but have frozen meals at lunch, not the best but at least I knew how many calories I was eating and not over eating. That would be replaced with a salad, I buy the ingredients each week and make it up in the morning before leaving for work, no meat, cheese, lettuce, radish, carrots, beetroot etc. I’ve never been much of a salad person but have really enjoyed these, so much tastier. I also cut out the 3 cookies I used to have in the morning and bought fresh fruit, mainly grapes that I had instead. In the afternoon I already eat a Greek yogurt so carried on with that and tried to add a vegetable to me dinner in the evening. I also opted to only eat red meat once every couple of weeks, eat vegetarian twice a week in addition to not having a drink 2 nights a week. As of 2 weeks ago I was down to 161 pounds so I may just make it when I return home next weekend for the race.
I’ve been increasing my weekly mileage by a few miles each week and icing my hip morning and evening and so far it’s been pretty good with just minimal pain. When I’ve felt any pain I’ve eased up a little and made sure to stretch which has helped. Last month I almost ran as many miles as I did the entire previous year as you can see in this chart. Up to last week I hadn’t done any speed work as sprinting would hurt my hip, however last Monday night the workout was 200’s and 800’s. If I had understood how many I don’t think I would have gone off with the fast group as we did 4×200’s with about 30 seconds recovery between each and then an 800. This was repeated 4 times for a total of about 3.7 miles with an average speed of 5:43 per mile.
As Judy is in England visiting her mother I decided to stay over the weekends in Miami and join the Monday group on their Saturday long run. They meet at 6:30 am so that meant no going out Friday evening so I could get up and run the 10 miles. The first week we set of and the pace of the first mile was slow around 8:40 so then I started to stretch out and chase the lead group that contained Omar. It took me a couple of miles to reach him and then about 4 of us ran together for a couple of miles. As we turned to head back Omar kicked up the pace a little and we were now running 7:10 and the other 2 dropped back but I was able to keep up. That was a big boost for my confidence as I wasn’t sure I would make my goal time of 1:37 but was still confident of running sub 1:40 but now I felt it was possible. I had now only run more than 10 miles 3 times in over 20 months so knew I had to get a couple more long runs in the last week.
So Thursday evening before heading to the Fit2Run group I ran a couple of miles and then headed over, reaching just less than 5 before running the 5 with them and then 2.5 back for a total of 12.6. 36 hours later I was back with the iRun group for the long Saturday run aiming to run 10 but if I felt good I would do a couple more at the end. We set off and again the first mile was slow at 8:45 but there were no runners out in front as many were running the Sarasota Half Marathon the following day. So I started to pick up the speed and was joined by 2 others, another male about my age and one of the girls that I had heard had ran a 3:11 marathon. I was just running by feel, not looking at my watch which is something I had started to do more often. I guess it must have been a decent pace because after a couple of miles the girl had dropped off and it was just the 2 of us. I found out he runs a 3:02 marathon, 1:25 half and had low 18’s for the 5K, I was way out of my depth however he was breathing hard and I felt easy and comfortable without almost any sign of heavy breathing. He suggested we run 12 so I said fine but as we got closer to the turn he said let’s for a little more so we get a full half in, to which I confirmed and carried on. By now it was getting warm and we had no water, I did have a gel with me as I wanted to practice taking it before the race but it was going to be hard with nothing to wash it down. I took the Gu around mile 8 and by now my breathing was a little heavier but I still felt strong. Just before mile 11 my right foot started getting a sharp pain in the middle towards the top of my foot every time I landed on it and I had to pull up. The person I was running with, I still don’t know his name, carried on while I took of my show and sock and massaged my foot a little. I put them back on and started jogging again. A few steps later my watch beeped and I looked down to see the last mile was 7:10 so I didn’t think I had any chance of catching him up but pushed on to try. I ran hard and the last mile was 6:45 when I caught him just before we got to the finish with a time of 1:36:59. I had accomplished my goal time in a fun run, in which I felt easy and had a slow start. Perhaps 1:35 is possible, I just wished I had a little more confidence to go out and run hard. Well I will know next week at the race, I’m confident of beating Mark just not sure how fast I can run, now to taper.