Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Going the Distance

Hard to believe that the last time I posted was when the school year was coming to an end and now we are about to end the first quarter of this year.  Time is flying by!

Since my previous post, life has been exciting and enjoyable.  I helped organize and attend my school's first mission trip partnered with Habitat for Humanity.  Between wearing a hazmat suit to clean out and demolish a house to digging through mud to create a rain garden, I learned a variety of new skills.  However, as a teacher, the greatest joy in the mission was seeing my students and watching them grow from the experience.  Of particular note, we kept their cellphones from them throughout the week leading them to realize how much fun they could have with their classmates when a screen was not in the way.  Some of them even commented how they didn't want their phones back since they liked being present in the moment by playing board games, playing outside, and just having conversations.  At times like these my students make me so proud to be their teacher!

On returning from the mission trip, I began training for my first half marathon.  I had run a variety of 5Ks and 5 Milers throughout high school and college, but I had never gone the full 13.1.  Like any training, I faced some ups and downs including shin splints, runners knee, and a very humid summer.  At times, I really considered why I was doing it and what was driving me to push myself.  However, I never gave or or let myself miss a run.  In reality, I especially liked my long runs since I was constantly trying to find new parks, trails and paths that I had never tried before.  The experience really opened my eyes to the beauty of the city of Pittsburgh and so many amazing things that have been added over the years to support fitness and running.  While I am sure it drives my wife little crazy, I never miss an opportunity to point out the different trails as we drive past them when going through the city.

All the training and half marathon research culminated on September 19th at the Greensburg Half Marathon.  When I was looking for a half to do, I wanted both one of that was small and also during late summer before the weather would get too unpredictable.  I lucked out in that the race met both those expectations.  In having not raced in roughly eight years, my nerves were definitely getting to me.  I ate a very small breakfast since I was not sure how much I could or should stomach and headed out the door.  When I arrived at the park, I just kept walking around anxiously waiting to begin.  When they finally called those of us participating the half to the starting line, I thought back to all the different advice I had read online and in magazines.  Trying to digest all those information, I did my best to implement it when the gun went off and the race commenced.  I expected my time to be somewhere around 2:15 since I had never consistently broken 10:00 minute miles and thought I would really hit the wall as the race continued.  To my surprise, I never necessarily hit the wall nor did I run as slowly as I expected.  When I reached the finish, my time was 1:48:18 and I noticed from the watch that I had run negative splits.  That was a shocker!  While my legs were definitely out of energy (I had my wife drive us home), my upper body felt great and I began to plan when I would do my next half.  I was in luck - the Pittsburgh Half Marathon registration opened the following week and I sighed up as soon as it was available.  My goal now is to improve on my time and at this time next year complete my first full marathon.  We shall see what happens!

You can read a full review of the Greensburg Half Marathon on Bib Rave

After my half marathon, I did take a few weeks off to heal from my various injuries that I refused to acknowledge while training.  With this week, the itch to go for a run has grown strong and I could not help but scratch it.  So, time to get ready for the races that are to come and what I learn along the way.

Happy running!

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