Halo on the Washington Monument during an April 2012 run
The 2013 Marine Corps Marathon is in a little over a year away. So far I’ve trained for and run in one half marathon. That experience helped me learn several lessons that I will use to modify my training plan. My original plan was to rely on less running and more low impact aerobics. I took this approach due to my age. I’m currently 51, however I will be nearly 53 when I run the Marine Corps Marathon! This will be my first and maybe my only marathon so I want to be ready and to finish.

Coming into Balboa Park during 2012 AFC Half MarathonOn August 19th 2012 I ran my first half marathon, the America’s Finest City (AFC) Half Marathon in San Diego. I was not satisfied with my performance in that half marathon, and I definitely could not have run twice as far on that day. This should not surprise me because I was training for a half marathon, and pretty light training even for that.

The original plan was to run one more half marathon next year in March and then run the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2013. Based on the way I felt at the end of my first half marathon, I decided to add another half marathon to my training plan. So I have signed up for the San Diego Half Marathon on March 10, 2013 and the Rock and Rock Half Marathon in San Diego on June 2, 2013. This will ensure that I have an additional intermediate goal, and that I don’t have 7 months between races.

The end of a training run from Crystal City VA to the Capitol Replecting Pool - May 2012The San Diego Half Marathon is 17 days before the planned sign-up date for the Marine Corps Marathon on March 27, 2013. This race will be my last chance to reassure myself that I will be able to run a full marathon before I sign-up. For that reason I plan to train for a 20 mile run, not a half marathon. I want to have some energy left at the end of the half marathon… something I did not have at the end of my first one. So I will be running longer training runs, not long enough to prepare for a full marathon, but long enough to get a better idea of my ability to train for races longer than half marathons.

The steeper climb behind me but feeling the heatThere were two other lessons I learned in my first half marathon. First, the weather may not cooperate. It may rain. It may be unseasonably warm, or cold. You have to be prepared for unexpected conditions. I also learned that I have to run hills! All of my training runs were on flat courses, but the half marathon had a fairly significant hill about 3 miles from the finish. I was not prepared for that hill and I really have no excuses. I live in a very hilly location, and work in one too! I love running at the beach or at the lake near my home, but that is not the only kind of runs I need. I’ve already done one hill run near my home. It felt good, and I’m sure this type of run will help me prepare for a better time on my next race.

An issue that I anticipated in my original plan was that injury would be a huge set back to training and should be avoided. Unfortunately, I did not avoid injury while training for the AFC Half Marathon. I did not stretch as much as I planned, and my legs, especially my hamstrings go too tight. I was also too aggressive in my weight training. The hamstring tightness combined with aggressive weight training led to a back injury and a 5 week break in my training. I have to stick to my plan to stretch regularly, and moderate my weight lifting. I will still train with weights, but I will train with lower weight and more repetitions to help avoid injury.

I will admit that during the last couple of miles of the America’s Finest City Half Marathon I started to wonder if I would be able to ever finish a full marathon. I questioned my sanity, not only planning to run a marathon, but writing about it in my blog. I have not forgotten how I felt. I was tired, out of gas, pretty much done at the end of that race. I have put aside those doubts for now. Will I be able to finish the Marine Corps Marathon? I would not bet the farm on it… I only bet on sure things. However, I will approach the task with a realistic attitude about what it will take to succeed and a determination to make it happen.

Update: February 2013. I added a MCM Training Log page at the top of my blog to track my training. This way I can see how many long runs I’ve done, how many with hills, and also the pace over time. So far it has been very helpful and keeps me focused on what I need to do.  (Log page transitioned to a post after the marathon)

Next two posts in this series:
San Diego Half Marathon – March 10 2013
Evolving My Marine Corps Marathon Training Plan


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