At 7:30 AM, this coming Saturday morning, a gun will go off, signaling the start of the 2010 Cowtown Marathon, Half Marathon, Ultra Marathon, and 10K. A few minutes later, my corral should be released, and I’ll be starting the half marathon. It’s been a little over 72 hours since I finished the last key workout of my current training cycle, a 14 mile run (my second). In a little under 72 hours from now I will hopefully be finishing my first half marathon.
While running the Cowtown Half Marathon comes at the end of a 16 week training cycle, the road to the starting line began long before that. As some of you might recall, in March 2008, I registered for the inaugural San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, which was held on November 16, 2008. Training for that race went well until week 10 of a 16 week training plan. In the middle of a 4 x 1 mile interval workout, my right knee started to hurt. Bad. We’re talking sharp, shooting pain. IT band, I thought. IT band, the doc thought. IT band, the PT guy thought. I went to PT appointment after PT appointment; I tried to keep running; I failed at continuing to run; I canceled the trip to San Antonio for the race; I rested completely; It still hurt.
After 12 PT appointments, a couple of follow-ups with the Doc, and the pain was still not any better, I went for an MRI. It showed a tear in the medial meniscus, as well as a ganglion cyst on the lateral aspect of the knee. Surgery was scheduled. Surgery was performed (February 3, 2009). No tear was found. Instead, a lot of loose cartilage and tissue on the outside of the knee was cleaned up. I began the recovery process.
By March, I started to ease myself back into running. By May, I hit my first post-op 100 mile month. In June, I ran my first post-op race—the xSIGHTment 5K, and set a PR. In July, I found myself needing to back off of the running some and began swimming. In August, I began ramping my mileage back up, and started a streak of 100+ mile months which is still going today. In October, I started to think about a race schedule for 2010, and put together a list, which included the Cowtown Half Marathon. I also ran my second post-op race—the Running Scared 5K, and set a PR. In November, I created a 16 week half marathon training program, along with a 6 week 5K program, using the Smart Coach tool at Runner’s World.
The two programs started off similarly enough that I used the 5K program (my first structured running in nearly a year) to get ready for a 5K race in early December, and then switched over the half marathon plan after that. The half marathon plan featured long runs and interval or tempo runs nearly every week. It also featured cut-back weeks every few weeks. As the plan progressed, the specified paces became faster, and the distances greater. Before I knew it, I was running 6 miles @ tempo pace, and 5 x 1 mile intervals, along with 13 and 14 mile long runs. This past Sunday’s long run marked the last of the key runs. All of the pre-race hard work is done. I am ready. There is not much more I can do over the next couple of days to gain fitness. The hay is in the barn.