Friday, October 12, 2007

Running scared

Most people passing through downtown San Jose this week would probably see this sign and think, "Cool!" Or "Huh." Me? I'm more of an "OHGOD, OHGOD, OHGOD" kind of girl.

This Sunday, I'm taking part in the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, which will be my third time running such a distance. I signed up back in April, fueled by a ferocious burst of optimism as I recovered from my painful half-marathon finish in Santa Cruz. "This!" I said, finger waving wildly in the air. "This! Will be my triumphant return!"

Only now I have stage fright. Because recently I realized I may have made a grave mistake in how I trained for this race.

Again I decided to follow Hal Higdon's intermediate half-marathon program. Unfortunately the 12-week training plan coincided with the summer I fell in love with yoga. Which, like running, is another pastime I pursue despite a total lack of talent. I was on a roll, doing yoga three days per week and improving a little with each class. And I didn't want to give that up. So I would, you know, just sorta bypass a Wednesday track workout, or a Friday tempo run, in favor of grueling, sweaty 75-minute yoga workouts. Workouts that made my muscles feel strong, and lean, and pleasantly warm for the rest of the day. Plus, I told myself, I'm still working out four or five days a week. It's not as though I've spent the past 11 weeks on the couch with a bag of Cheetos.

But a couple weeks ago, a terrifying realization hit me: To train for this race? I WAS SUPPOSED TO RUN A LOT. But instead of the prescribed 4-5 runs per week, I have been doing 2-3.

But often, uh, 2.

Dammit! So now I'm a little freaked out. Like I'm going to be in a play on Sunday and I forgot to memorize my lines. Now, if there is one thing that will save me, it's that I did every single long-distance run in the plan. These are critical. Each Sunday I drag my sorry self down to the Los Gatos Creek Trail for long runs, and then longer runs, and then even longer runs, the final being 10 miles. And that distance I did two weeks in a row. So it's not like running 13.1 miles is utterly beyond possibility.

Yet for some reason I have it in my head that had I just done EXACTLY what ol' Hal told me to do, I'd probably finish this race with the friggin' Kenyans. But since I veered so crazily off-course, into the mystical land of downward-facing dogs and eight-parts bowing, I'm gonna choke.

It would probably be wise to revisit the goals I had last October. I, a person who was once so unathletic I would hyperventilate after a single lap around the track, was preparing for my first half-marathon ever. My goals were thus: 1) Don't die. 2) Don't throw up. 3.) Don't walk. That's it. Simple as that. And I'm fairly sure that on Sunday, with the right attitude and a favor from the angry gods of cramp, I can accomplish these goals again.

And, I guess if it all goes to hell, at least I'll have something to blog about.

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