May 22nd, 2017


I Wish…. - #9b - Run Half Marathons Back to Back – Part 1

Having not run a half marathon in 2 years, what do I do - Run 2 half marathons back to back. And all because of a silly challenge. :)

One of my nature is when someone throws a challenge at you - especially using the "woman" card, then I take it very personally to prove that there is nothing impossible for a woman either. (Reminds me of the song "Anything you do I can do better" from the 1950 film Annie Get Your Gun.) And the result  - I checked one item off my list now. :)

Challenge: Can anyone run two half marathons back to back within 24 hours? Doesn’t matter what time they finish it though.
Races I Picked: Airbnb TCS Brooklyn Half on May 20 2017 and Mystic Half Marathon on May 21 2017
How did I fare: Although timing was pathetic, I finished and earned my medals - as asked by me for this challenge.


How did this challenge start?
Well, it all started with a pithy comment. A couple years ago an Indian couple had completed 7 half marathons in 7 days on 7 continents. That is a pretty amazing thing to achieve - especially when you consider the age of the male runner - he was 60 when he went on this adventurous challenge. (More about them here: Towards late December of last year when I had mentioned about this, although appreciative of the couple's effort, a friend of mine scoffed that only a professional runner can do such a feat. I argued that why not an amateur runner - with the right amount of training anyone can achieve such a feat. Instead of agreeing or disagreeing, my friend mocked at me saying that sure right training can get a person to do such a feat but may be for a woman it would be hard to do as she would have to be trained double the time a man took. Could be true but thus began an argument that led to a two-part challenge thrown at my face by this friend.

What Races I could do?
When the New Year rolled in, I was thinking how to go about with such a challenge - especially since both the half marathons have to be run back to back within 24 hrs of time. Which means I needed to find two runs that were at drivable distance for me else I would be spending time in flights and tire me out more than needed. Then came the email reminder for Airbnb Brooklyn Half. And that instantly became my first choice.

The first race I picked was the Airbnb Brooklyn Half co-sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in Brooklyn, NY held on May 20 2017. Originally before the challenge was thrown at me I had wanted to run this race to test myself if I can run a half marathon at all since I hadn't run one in two years. This was as good as any to add to the challenge. The second race I picked was the Mystic Half Marathon in Mystic, CT held on May 21 2017. Both were in drivable distance for me to go. Perfect!!

How did I prepare?
Now that the races had been picked, my focus was next on preparation and practice. I had done back to back 5Ks before but preparing for back to back half marathons needed much more hard work. In the beginning it was feeble more so because of the cold weather and running on treadmills - which I personally don’t like at all. Then a month of sickness followed that reduced my training time further.

However past five weeks I had been training as best as I could to make my body get used to running long runs back to back. I ran approximately 5 to 7 miles every day - 3 miles in the morning and 4 miles in the evening; 5 miles one day and 7 miles the following day - alternating this structure. But the maximum miles I ran per day was 10 miles which was only once. If only I had done two 12 mile runs during the practice my body perhaps would have been better prepared. Going into the races I did know I wasn’t completely prepared so I was nervous about finishing them at all.

How did I finish the races?
The first race in Brooklyn, NY, I finished in 3 hrs 21 mins 57 secs. The second race the following morning in Mystic, CT was very tough on my body. Around 10 mile mark I almost gave up. It was either dragging myself the next three miles to finish line or call a cab and quit the race. Never one to be a quitter, I walked the next mile to 11 mile mark and then ran the last two miles - more like jogged. I finished in 3 hrs 28 mins 2 secs. The Mystic Half was tougher than Brooklyn Half not only because my body started rebelling against me, but because of the numerous hills - and running on hills is not my forte.

Did I achieve my goal?
You bet, I did. Albeit the timing was pathetic, I finished the races back to back. With a little more preparation I could have done better. However, I am pleased with my performance.
What Next?
I accepted the challenge thrown at me and finished Part 1. Will I throw a gauntlet at myself and pursue Part 2 of the Challenge? Perhaps I will; perhaps I won't. One has to just wait and see. :P