Saturday, June 15, 2013

How to Run a Half Marathon with Zen – Part 1.

Photo by Tania Franco
I finally did it. It was one of those things that has been somewhere in my mind but always ended up in the back-burner with the stove turned off. You probably know the feeling. But this summer I ran the San Diego Rock & Roll Half Marathon in 1:51:54.
I started to run again only in the last two years or so. Mind you, I wasn’t the epitome of consistency by any standards, but it was a new beginning. See, I always led an active and athletic life. I played organized soccer in high school, and local clubs. Then I suffered a pretty severe knee injury when I was 19. I recovered from it and managed to play college soccer and at different division one clubs up until I turned 29 or so, then I stopped.

After this period of inactivity, I lost a good degree of strength in my legs and when I wanted to come back, I couldn’t play anymore because of knee issues.

I was a bit bummed for a while, and pretty much gave up for a couple of years. I gained a few extra pounds and I wasn't being disciplined with the gym. One day I saw myself in the mirror and the man in front of me wasn't who I wanted to be. So I went back out there with renewed energy and  determined to be the best version of myself from then on.

Last year I logged quite a few miles, and it was picking up towards the end of the year. I also went to the gym more regularly. Then the winter came along and 2013 started off a bit slow as I didn’t run or exercise as much during the cold days. 

But in March I decided to make a comeback and set a goal to run 600 miles before the end of the year. I have completed 150 so far. The truth is that setting goals may not exactly be “Zen,” but it is something that motivates me presently, and it serves as an indicator of the physical progress I make.

I knew the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was in the summer, and I had mentioned to Tania that I was interested in participating. Incidentally, I had said this before about other things and nothing happened. I think I could have easily come up with an excuse and just plan to run it “next year.”

But then along came Manny.

He is a co-worker and friend. I knew he was running regularly and one day he just showed up and told me that he had signed up to run the San Diego City Half Marathon. Just like that. We talked about his training as the date was approaching and the excitement creeping in. He would tell me about his splits and increasing his running distance closer to the 13.1mile mark. I was genuinely excited for him, and I started to look at my regular runs differently.

Back then I was running 3 miles at a time, tops. When I saw him the day of the race at the 10 mile mark after a killer climb, I knew that I had to do it. It was inspiring to see hundreds of runners from all kinds of walks making a tremendous effort to accomplish something, but more about this later. We got together for a couple of beers to talk about the race, and he was kind enough to share his experience with me. That evening we agreed to run the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, and after that day I started training with that objective in mind.


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