First, the good news: I ran a half-marathon (The IU Mini Marathon) today and finished it in 1 hour 43 minutes 30 seconds—my best time so far. My previous best time was 1 hour 47 minutes that I had recorded at the Geist Half Marathon last year.
The funny thing is that I didn’t expect to better my time today. First, Bloomington’s course with all its rolling hills is not good for setting personal records. Second, and more importantly, I hadn’t trained well for this race. In fact, my training was so less that I was even contemplating not participating in the IU Mini this year. I was running only about 2 to 3 miles a week, and my longest run was just a 5 miler two weeks back. But then I thought, “I have been running the IU Mini every year since its inception in 2006…I can’t miss it now…let me run it even if I take longer to complete it.” I was hoping to finish the race in about 2 hours.
I started slow—at the pace of about 8.5 minutes a mile. But since I was feeling good, I increased my pace after the fourth mile. Things went smooth until the 9th mile, after which my right knee started bothering me. I should have changed my old shoes, I thought. I had continued using my shoes much beyond its life time to save money—that’s the life of a poor grad student. Anyway, I continued running despite the pain, because I was feeling good otherwise. By the time I completed 12 miles the pain was pretty severe, but I kept telling myself that I was very close to the finish. However, a couple of hundred meters later, both my calf muscles suffered severe cramps. I could literally feel those muscles expanding and contracting with every painful step that I took. I kept running, but those muscle contractions became very severe. I feared the worst—that I may not be able to finish my race, if I kept running. So, I started walking. People who were behind me started overtaking me, but that didn’t bother me because I was not racing against anybody. Then, one runner shouted from behind, “It’s almost done man—keep going.” For some reason, those words put me back on my feet—I started running again. Fortunately, it seemed like the cramps had disappeared too. So, I ran very fast, using my lungs to their optimal capacity. I overtook a lot of people in front of me, and finally finished in a time that was a personal record. I was elated!
In today's blog post, I was planning to write about the lessons that I learnt from today's race. But it's too late now, and I'm very tired and sleepy. So, let me talk about the lessons in my next post.