14 miles...doesn't sound all that far does it? I mean, I drove 25 miles to Jr. High and High School for over 8 years and never thought anything of it. It's just barely longer than the distance between my wife's hometown and the Carson County seat, a little town called Panhandle. It's also just barely shorter than the distance between White Deer and Pampa. So I guess what I'm saying is I always looked at 14 miles and thought, "you know, that's kind of insignificant." Not so much anymore my friends. A couple months ago my best friend challenged me to run the Cowtown 1/2 marathon with him at the end of February. I was bored from sitting at home the first couple days of my unemployment and decided that anything to give me something to do was a great idea. He did a little research and came up with a plan for us to follow (which can be found here) and off we went. We just completed week 7 which means, you guessed it, this idiot ran 14 miles yesterday through the hills of his neighborhood. If I'm smart enough to have figured it out, you'll see the route right here.
This particular route is 2.5 miles long (it says 2.47 but it cut off the first block of the run for some reason) has 92 feet of ascent over the course of the route, and yes, since it's a loop, what must up, must come down. But let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, this route seems to never stop going up. All of the downhill comes in a 1/2 - 3/4 mile stretch at the end of the loop and it seems the rest of it is all uphill which means that most of the almost 6 laps of this 2.5 mile loop were spent looking up to the sky. Sure, that'll be great come race day, but it nearly killed me yesterday. I ended up running the 14 miles in 2 hours, 13 minutes, and 14 seconds which comes out to a 9:13 pace per mile. More importantly, I finished th 13.1 of the 1/2 marathon distance in 2:04, which means I need to shave off 4 minutes in exactly 3 weeks of work. As we taper down, hopefully my body will recover a little bit to be able to handle that.
So, what has this taught me? Surprisingly, that I love running. Yeah, there are some aches and pains, but I have a new stretching and strength program to help me avoid that as I move into Triathlons and maybe even a marathon. I love the high you get when you're done. About an hour after I finished yesterday I realized that I'd run in just over 2 hours 10 times farther than the average American walks in a week (I know it sounds odd, but think about it, most of us walk less than 20 yards to our car, park as close to the front door of our destination as we can, then spend all day in a desk chair. Kind of scary.) While that number is sobering, it comes with a significant feeling of accomplishment. I've also been logging my runs since the beginning of the year to keep track of how much ground I've covered. Since January 1 alone, I've covered over 115 miles. That's like running from Kyle (15 miles south of Austin for those not familiar with it) to San Antonio and back. I've also lost over 10 pounds since New Years and over 25 since I started running back around Thanksgiving. I feel better than I have in a long time, and I think this running bug officially has a hold of me.