Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Light bulbs: Oct. 22, 2011

Oh, we just have the best ideas around here. There is always some big plan in the offing to build something or go someplace or organize some get-together. Or spend a Sunday morning running 13.1 miles. Because, really, why not?

The four phases of a half marathon

    First, there is the bright idea phase.

    “Hey,” says my workout buddy during a June training session. “We should run that half marathon they’re having downtown in October.”

    “That’s a great idea,” I say. “Let’s do it.”

    Here is what I’m thinking: October? Sure. That’s a really long way off. That’s such a long way off that I don’t even really have to start thinking about this. Heck, by October I could probably be ready to run a full marathon. Or do a triathlon. Whatever. No problem.

    Second comes the reasonable goals phase, also known as the delusional phase.

    Short training runs a few times a week. The heat of summer hasn’t quite taken hold, the 3, 4, 5-mile distances are really not that big a deal. We run, we chat, we feel pretty good about this whole project. Sometimes we even go really fast for a few miles. Look at us. Training for a half marathon. Isn’t it the cutest thing you ever saw?

    Third comes the whose-crazy-idea-was-this-anyway? phase.

    Training runs of 6 and then 10 and then 12 miles. Meeting at 7 a.m. on Saturdays to get nearly two hours of running in before a blanket of Southern summer heat unfurls. Better yet, running after work in August through stifling air that tastes like a hot wool sweater because there was just no other time to get this done.

    Or, on one memorable occasion, meeting at 7 a.m. on Saturday to run even though we were out late on Friday celebrating my running buddy’s birthday.

    “Whose crazy idea was this anyway?” I asked my friend that morning as we ran the hardest 6 miles in human history. “Why did I agree to this?”

    “I’m dying,” she replied.

    “Well, happy birthday!”

    (In the whose-crazy-idea-was-this-anyway? phase, it is poor etiquette to remind the person whose crazy idea this was that this was HER crazy idea. In this phase, however, people really kind of stop caring about etiquette.)

Before it started hurting.
    Then the race. This is not one of the four phases. This is just one very exciting morning, which goes incredibly well or incredibly badly or somewhere in between, depending on a number of variables ranging from weather to injuries to mood to whether your favorite running shorts were in the hamper and you had to wear your second-favorites, which just aren’t as good. We ran. We finished. We’re proud of ourselves. We’re pretty tired. We’re going to go eat breakfast and drink mimosas.

    And then, within minutes of crossing the finish line, comes phase four: the when-do-you-want-to-do-this-again? phase. This phase is the irrefutable proof of what so many people have said to us over the last several months: We are crazy.

    It’s cool, though, because the next big race is not for several months. There is plenty of time to train. There’s so much time to train, in fact, that maybe we should consider training for a full marathon. I mean, we just ran 13.1 miles. We could do that twice, right? Why not?

    Yes, this sounds suspiciously like a bright idea.

    Did I mention that the four phases are on a loop?

After we forgot that it hurt. 

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