May 1, 2016. The date the last time I ran a half-marathon. Or rather, the last time I completed a half-marathon.
It was memorable for a couple of reasons. The first was that my brother Chad drove up from Florida for it and my sister Sara completed her first ever. The three of us finished at different times, but it was quite something to be in the same event.
The second memory was for a very different reason.
When I finished, I felt horrible. I slowly got out of my rain soaked clothes. My extremities were freezing. It took almost two hours for my body temperature to raise to a comfortable level. I threw up.
Why? Put simply, I didn't train very well at all. I was in shape to run a 10K, not an entire half-marathon. You might expect that from someone who lacked experience with longer races, but this was my 7th half, it was my slowest one, and it was definitely the most brutal physically. I was also burned out because of it all.
So, I stopped running...for almost a year.
I knew this time would come though. The time where I would finally miss running. It has taken me almost a year, but I'm there. I missed how I felt when I ran. I was in the best shape ever when I was running consistently, I ate really well, and I was just more fulfilled in all facets of my life.
However, I also realize that there is a right way to do this and a wrong way. I know that I can't just take off running and think I'm going to be in any kind of shape for it. That's a recipe for disaster, and if I did that I might never run again. I let myself get out of shape, and so it's going to take time for me to get back in stride.
So, where am I going to start? Even though I haven't actually started running yet, I have, kind of. I'm the type of person who needs a goal, a carrot to dangle in front of me. I have two and they are both focused on dates: 9/10/17 and 10/20/17. The first is the date for a half in Sioux Falls (SD) that I'm aiming to run. The second date is my 50th birthday. I want to make sure I get myself in shape and run another half before my next birthday.
I'm the type of person who needs a strong why in order to do something. I wish I was the kind of person who could just go out and run for the sake of just enjoying it, and maybe someday I will, but that's just not how I'm wired at this point. If I'm going to run, it's going to be to train for something.
The best part is that I have around five months to train and that's more than enough time. I can't put too much pressure on myself though. I can't expect to be running by my own definition of peak performance. I might never be at that point again, and that's okay. I just want to get out and go again, and that's more than enough. For now anyway.