Training for the Rotary Run

Sadie Craig

It started innocuously enough. I wondered if I could run around Greenlake. I was dealing with chronic shoulder pain, so I had to replace my beloved swimming with other exercise.

So, one sunny afternoon last fall, I did in fact run around Greenlake. Now, this is using the term “run” quite loosely. By run, I mean move as if I’m running, but do so at a snail’s pace. Speed workouts are not part of my regimen yet. I’m a beginner.

But after that first day around Greenlake, I wanted to go again. And again. Soon I found myself looking forward to running. If I had a problem, going for a run would help.

I told my sister, the marathoner, about it, with some apprehension. Would she say I was doing it wrong?

No, she thought it was great. She encouraged me to join her in a 10K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.

Suddenly, I had a focus. I started adding distance. To approach the 10K distance, sometimes I would run three miles, then walk another three. Sister the Marathoner said that was OK.

Then came race day in St. Petersburg, Fla. My mental preparation went something like this: What was I thinking? Why did I sign up for this? My shorts look funny. Hmm, there’s still time to switch to the 1-mile walk with Mom and Dad...

But there was also one other big question in my mind, that drove out all the other nonsense: How will I do trying to run farther than I ever have?

And I wanted to find out. So when the race started, I was optimistic. Sister the Marathoner patiently kept pace with me for a while, then ditched me when I stopped to tie my shoe.

People stood by the side of the road in the Florida sunshine, cheering us along. A band, complete with a bandstand and loudspeakers, was playing classic rock music. I was running. With all the encouragement, it felt like a great feat. I felt more motivated than I ever have on any run.

Sure, it was a little discouraging at mile five, when one keen observer noted, “They just keep getting slower and slower.”

But I didn’t care.

I made it to the end in a whopping 70 minutes. Not much to brag about, but certainly a baseline leaving lots of room for improvement.

More importantly, I officially had a hobby. I looked for races to run at Christmas, but couldn’t find any in my hometown. I ran the 5K race at Magnuson Park on New Year’s Day 2007. I shaved two minutes off my 5K time last weekend at the Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em race around Greenlake. Sister the Marathoner tried to talk me into a 15-mile race in Colorado.

And somewhere in all this excitement I discovered the Mercer Island Rotary Run. Well, I discovered the actual date about eight weeks ago, when I chose a 12-week training program.

Two short runs, one long run, and two cross-training days. Strength training. Gradually build up to a 10-mile long run, then the race. Sounds simple enough.

But I made the mistake of choosing soccer as a cross-train day. Soccer, I quickly remembered, isn’t so much cross-training as it is running in cleats and adding a ball and several sprints into the mix.

I played soccer the day before one of my long runs, and I was in pain for days. Funny muscles that I never knew even existed kindly introduced themselves.

That week certainly caused me to question this whole “half marathon” idea. There are plenty of other races, later in the season, that I could do. The Rotary Run kicks off the running season. I could take more time.

To be honest, I haven’t ruled out this possibility entirely. I love that the Rotary Run includes a 10K and a 5K race this year, so I can shorten my goal if training becomes excruciating again. I’m certainly in a prime position to achieve a personal best in the 10K, given what I did on Thanksgiving.

And some days, when I don’t want to run, or I don’t think I’ll manage this half marathon, those same doubts from the Turkey Trot creep up. But so does the question: How will I do?

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