Well, not one to shy away from setting tough goals, I have decided to attempt this Sunday's infamous 'Not So Hilly' Half Marathon (NSH) in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. This will be my third NSH in four years (I missed 2010 because the date conflicted with a full marathon I had already committed to run in Halifax). Newfoundland is best known for its hills, so the existence of 21.1k of continuous flat road is considered satirical.
As a full marathoner, the half marathon has always been considered a speed drill of sorts. the two previous times I ran it, I entered the race on tired legs, having previously run several marathons in the month leading up to it. ironically enough, I would cite my 2009 and 2011 NSH races as the two most perfectly-executed races of my career as a distance runner. In both cases, I entered with a specific plan to run all 21 at consistent paces, and did so almost perfectly. in 2009, my goal was 5 minute kms, and in 2011, it was 6 minute kms. In both cases, I crossed the finish line just mere seconds faster than my goal.
Anyway, 2012 is a very different story. I have not run a formal race since Oct 2011, when I struggled through the Cape to Cabot 20k - a race I ran on extremely bad knees and under conditions of being grossly over-weight and under-trained. Well, 3 weeks after that race, I woke up one morning with ankle pain, which turned out to be a torn ligament. It seems that a challenging summer of running on bad knees, and under-trained muscles, had put extra pressure on the ankle to the point where it eventually just gave out.
Anyway, after several visits to the physio clinic and only a handful of short runs, while still extremely painful, I have built up a muscular support system that has at least allowed me to run on the ankle without risking any further damage (beyond what would otherwise be considered regular risk probabilities).
Bottom line, although I had done practically no running in Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb and March, I was finally able to start logging some miles in April. In the past 6 weeks, I have had 8 runs of 8km or greater; including 1 at 16k. It's hard to believe that I have not run 21.1k or more since I limped my way through the Newfoundland Provincial Marathon in Sept 2011, which i finished in 5 hr 56 minutes. but my recent 16k demonstrated to me that 1) the ankle can handle this, and 2) as poor a shape as I may be in, I can still do this within the 3 hour time limit.
So there we have it. a goal of breaking the 3 hour time limit. I guess that works out to slightly more than 8 minute kms. Quite sad to think that my goal is to finish dead last. but at the same time, to finish this race at all, is something I would have considered unthinkable, a mere two weeks ago.
After reflecting on my blog and vlog that I posted yesterday after my disappointing 10k training run, I figured that the best way to get myself fired up and excited about life again, was to set extremely ambitious, yet attainable goals. running this race and crossing the finish line will put some legitimacy on my comeback, as while not a full marathon, this will still represent a significant accomplishment as my first post-ankle-injury race.
For those who are not aware, ligaments are probably the worst thing you can injury: bones heal, muscles repair themselves, tendons and ligaments generally do not directly heal. once you've stretched or torn them, they are stretched for life. in the case of a ligament, if you completely severe them, you will need surgery to weave them together - like a wicker basket. In my case, I have two torn ligaments, but they are not severed, so I have been advised against surgery but to strengthen the muscles around them and adjust my running motion. losing some weight would also be advisable, as I know I ask a lot of my entire body, by carrying around what has got to be 80 pounds too much.
Anyway, sure, there is always a chance that I will not finish this race, but heck, I live my life based on a probability matrix. I have just about everything to gain, and only a minimal chance that I will actually come out of this with something to lose. So it's on! looking forward to finally pinning a number on my running shirt again. and excited that what has traditionally been my busiest running month (May), will not be completely shut out. While it still remains unlikely that I will ever run another full marathon again, this is at least something positive.