It was different training by myself, but I got used to it. I found a training program and got started. I lengthened my running intervals to 6 minutes and got faster. I chose some summer races and training went pretty well for the first month or so. But then I’m afraid I started overdoing it. Perhaps this was the start of my stress fracture? I guess I’ll never know. But I was running four days a week and then ran three races in three weeks and developed what I think was a slight IT band problem.
Those three July races were really good though. I got faster each time. The month started with the Freedom Run 10K in DeForest on the fourth of July. That race was not all that great, but I was satisfied with my time of one hour, 13 minutes and 5 seconds.
Nine days later was the Diva Dash 5K in Middleton. It was here I reached a PR I never thought I’d reach. I was amazed the whole way as I changed my running intervals to run 7 seven minutes (or maybe it was 8) and walk 1. I finished in 31:33. I couldn’t believe it!
It was after the Diva Dash that I got a knee pain one day while running 7 miles. I was about 2 miles in and I stopped to cross the street and stretched my legs a bit and this pain shot through my right knee. I walked a bit and stretched and it seemed to get a bit better. It hurt afterward and I rested a few days. It didn’t bother me much for awhile and then I got the pain again one day after swimming.
Despite this I still ran the Waunafest 10-mile race on July 26. I really like the 10-mile distance, I think because it isn’t as far as the half marathon, but its long enough that its not necessarily a fast race. In this race I took 6 minutes off my previous 10-mile time and finished in 1:53:05. I felt like a rock star for that whole race! It went though all these neighborhoods where residents were handing out water or put out their sprinklers and hoses for us to run through. They cheered for me like I was the leader of the pack!
But after that race, I started trying harder to take it easy. I dropped to running three days a week and I didn’t race at all in August. My IT band thing seemed to go away. When my taper drew near I was confident about the half marathon. I knew I could do it! I had the excitement and emotion that I missed in my first half marathon. This was the race I trained for and I was faster and I knew I would do my best.
I ran the first Fight for Life run on Sept. 6. Since it was the first of that race, it was a small one. I seem to pick those small races. I was the last 10K finisher, but I beat my fourth of July PR by 8 minutes with a time of 1:05:40. Once I can train again I’m confident I can run it in under one hour.
I had run the quarter marathon a week before San Diego and really liked having a shorter race right before the bigger one. I liked doing that again with the Fight for Life 10K two weeks before Fox Cities.
I traveled to Fox Cities with my friend Chelsea, whom I had met through the forums on runnersworld.com. Several of my family members made the trip and my aunt and uncle who live in Appleton came to the race as well. It was a blast having my family there to cheer me on.
We also met my other friend Jessica there.
I felt so good starting the race that I did something I hadn’t planned on: I ditched my intervals. I ran my first 6 minutes and then walked 2, but after that I decided to keep running. I stopped to walk when I felt like I needed to. I ran almost the entire first 5 miles without stopping.
That wasn’t the smartest thing to do. The number 1 piece of advice for race day is don’t try anything new. But it worked for me on this day. I felt great. Right up to mile 12. Jessica and I had separated early on and she caught up to me at mile 12. I was about to take a walk break, but I decided to keep running with her. I made it to about 12.5 and I just didn’t have anything left in the tank. I walked and tried to run three or four times before I just gave up and walked for a few minutes… until I came in view of the finish line. That was the motivation I needed to sprint to the finish. And I did. It was a phenomenal race. I had gone into it with a hopeful goal of 2:25 and a realistic goal of 2:30 to 2:35. Well, I shattered my hopeful goal and finished in 2:21:45! WOW!