In honor of the holidays, I am posting special blog posts chronicling 12 of my favorite running races from 2012 and the somewhat funny lessons, or gifts you could say, that came from them (well…they’re funny now; at the time not so much).
On the 4th day of Running, the Kansas City Half Marathon Gave to Me: 4 weeks of training with Jason “Four”d.
Yes, it is possible to run a half marathon after four weeks of training.
No, I don’t recommend it.
And yet, I do recommend seizing opportunities that pop up unexpectedly because by running the half marathon last minute last year, it revitalized my running life and changed my personal life. It also taught me that lots of mental determination and wanting to impress a boy definitely help when struggling through 13.1 miles.
Last fall I was working at the Athletic Club of Overland Park (where you can literally do a beer run b/c you can run on the treadmill then run upstairs to the bar for a beer). One of the members regularly chatted with his personal trainer after their session at the front desk. I overheard them talking about running, and I eavesdropped. I overheard this member mention his “Hill Run,” and my ears perked up like a puppy.
He was cute, looked in his late 20s, and was very friendly. I’d said hi to him before and knew him by name, Jason Ford, from the check-in computer (yes, you can creep on people with sources OTHER than Facebook. LOL). He talked about how hard this hill run was, but I had my doubts since I was Hill Master. His hill route probably was nothing compared to the hills I’d run in Kansas City or the giant hill at the Lake of the Ozarks where people driving down it usually go into a lower gear.
Anyway, I couldn’t help but jump into the conversation at this point, and so from time to time when I saw him we’d talk about running. One day I went to the lunch half hour Cycling class because I was getting sick and wanted to take it easy (for people who run a lot, anything besides running starts to feel easy b/c running is so intense). Jason was in the class, and since I’d talked about running so much, I couldn’t look like a wimp. I tried to suck it up and ignore my fatigue and the fact that I couldn’t breathe through my nose. After class, Jason asked me if I was running the KC Half Marathon.
“Well, I’d like to but it’s in like, what, four weeks?” I responded.
“We can do it! We both workout and run a lot. We’ll be fine!”
“I don’t know…”
“We can run together, and I have P90X on my laptop. We’ll be fine.”
“I guess. I mean, we’ve both run half marathons before, so it’s not like we don’t know if we’ll finish or not…OK.”
And that is how Jason Ford starting sucking me into racing events I normally would pass up. It was always “We can do it!” or “We’ll be fine” or “There’s nothing to worry about!” Or my favorite, “Hey, we have 4 weeks! That’s plenty of time!”
Well, we trained our butts off that four weeks, but if we both hadn’t been maintaining some level of fitness before, I’m not sure the half would have gone as well. But then again, if we’d been training properly for four MONTHS instead of WEEKS, it also wouldn’t have gone so painfully. But having someone to suffer with and talk to made the race a lot more fun, even if it hurt.
Jason is a fairly new runner. He had knee surgery late 2010 because he was one of those fabulous role models you saw on the KCPT news mudsliding on Memorial Hill at Rock Fest. And consequently, he jacked up his knee. But six months later, he was running his first half marathon in Colorado, Horsetooth Half. Then a few months later he tackled a couple of triathlons and completed the Five Trails Half Marathon in Leavenworth (which is actually hillier than Hospital Hill – it is amazing!). He also took me on the notorious “Hill Run” around Pflumm and Johnson Drive, where six miles with seven giant hills kicked my butt! I was very impressed by how he pulled off these difficult runs with inexperienced training he had.
But he’s very enthusiastic, and like most men, doesn’t understand the word ‘no.’ So he’s always ready to tackle some new sporting feat even if he has no idea what he’s doing or very little experience. There’s no reason I can’t do it, he reasons. And while it’s good I’m there to make sure we don’t go overboard and that we train more now, it’s great he pushes us to try new things and makes me realize a lot of our own limits are in our heads. How do you know you can’t run a race until you try? Who says you have to follow running by the book?
I always stress about wanting a good time or to feel completely prepared for a race, but he’s shown me that I usually underestimate myself, that if I have the determination and motivation (a good chunk of that motivation being wanting to beat him or at least keep up), I can accomplish a lot. He’s just happy to run and always points out the little things I’ve accomplished by running – little things I often overlook because I’m frustrated my performance wasn’t up to my standards.
This year, we ran the Kansas City Half Marathon again and actually trained for four months instead of four weeks. And I felt better but still started to hurt the last few miles – but knowing we had done this race before and with little training made me know we could for sure finish this time. Because once you’ve done a half marathon with little training, everything else seems easier.
Also, when you’re running with someone like Jason, a beginner who knows no bounds, you experience running for the first time again. And you remember to enjoy the running itself, doing races just to try something new or running a challenging route to test yourself, to prove there’s nothing that says you can’t. And to share this joy with others.
Because running with that girl you recently met and impressing her with your giant hill run just might lead to some much-needed good food and beer afterward. And that could lead to you asking her to do more than just run with you. And eventually that could lead you to ask that girl to run and enjoy experiences with you for the rest of your life. Thank you, baby, for the inspiration, for the motivation, and for pushing me to be a better runner and person. 🙂