So here we are, 12 months following my bold decision to run 12 half marathons in a year. Like so many things in life, it was all about the journey, not the destination and I can’t help but reflect on the past year with a smile not just for my accomplishment but for my personal growth.
My times became faster, my body became stronger, and my tan lines became weirder. Much of my free time and weekends were spent running with a fierce focus on the next race. Many miles were traveled – both on foot and in my car – and my small personal goal became a huge part of my life.
As with many life events, there were both good and bad aspects. Obviously there were days I didn’t want to run, races that made me question why I even run at all, and many a night where my social life got put on hold so I could ensure a hangover-free long run the following morning. And the good? The good came every single time I ran through another finish line.
So let’s talk basics. How I got there (training-wise), how I maintained, favorite (and least favorite) races, things I’d change, etc. This is an attainable goal for anyone (we all know I come from humble beginnings) so should you choose to embark on such a journey, please allow me the pleasure of telling you like it is.
Training – Following my first half marathon (of which I followed this modified version of Hal Higdon’s plan), I was obviously in half marathon shape. I spent many months working my way up there so I’m going to assume that anyone wishing to do this is on that level.
Maintaining – A standard week looked like this:
Sunday: Long run (somewhere between 8-11 miles)
Tuesday: Some sort of cross training
Wednesday: 4-5 miles of hill runs
Friday: 4-5 miles of hill runs
Saturday: Cross train or rest
Obviously this is not technical, nor was this an attempt to become much faster or train all that hard. I was simply looking to maintain my fitness level and endurance and this seemed to work for me.
Favorite Race(s): This is a tough one. I liked them all for various reasons but if I had to pick one it would be the Secret City Half Marathon. The weather was cold, the course was flat, and I PR’d. I also became engaged a few hours later so there were a lot of external factors playing a role. My next favorite one was The Sassy Swan Half. I mean seriously, so sweet on J’s part and it’s the only race I’ve ever ‘won’.
Least Favorite Race: Ugh. The Santa Hustle. Not at the fault of the race coordinators, but at my own stupidity of wearing brand new shoes without breaking them in. And it was one of my worst times. And I cried. And my parents were there to see it all. And that stupid beard itched like hell.
Things I couldn’t have lived without: My shorty shorts (which Lululemon has since stopped making…grrrr), my head band, my iphone and all my downloaded books, MapMyRun, bananas & peanut butter Power Bars, purple handkerchief, and my support system, J.
Things I would have done differently: In a perfect world, I would have traveled further. But since my wallet isn’t overflowing with dolla dolla bills, it really just wasn’t feasible. I also would have incorporated more speed work in. I like to think that it was all about finishing, but once you taste the sweet victory of a PR, you instantly want it again and in order to do so, I need to up my routine of maintaining to improving.
Can anyone do this? Absolutely. Just be aware that it will cost a substantial amount of money (think registration fees, travel expenses, clothing, shoes, and various gear) and will probably take a bit of a toll on your social life (don’t worry, you get used to the disappointing looks of disgust from non-runner friends who just can’t understand why you won’t stay out until 3 am drinking). But guess what? I get to say, for the rest of my life, that one time I ran 12 half marathons in 12 months. And to me, that’s a far bigger accomplishment then anything I would have done at 3 in the morning.