To Race or Not to Race, Redux

A few weeks ago my daughter told me a friend of hers is running in a race in the next town over. She was thinking about running it too and wanted to know if I’d like to join her. Issues affecting my decision:

  • I have become almost as slow as I was when I started running. My slacking off due to the pandemic being a factor, (although I’m also looking into other potential reasons – more on that later).
  • The race is on my birthday – will racing ruin it or make my day? Will I be too exhausted to have fun the rest of the day?
  • It’s a half marathon -13.1 miles!!!!

I have run the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage six times now, but it’s the only race I’ve run and it’s a 5K, 3.1 miles. My last race, on December 5, I ran more than a minute slower per mile than my race in 2018. I.e., I’m not in the best shape. And the most I’ve ever run is six miles so far.

I thought and thought about it and finally decided:

  • I’d feel like a complete chicken if I didn’t do it.
  • I’m pretty sure I’d get quite fit preparing for a 13.1 mile run.
  • I’ll be damned proud of myself if I manage to finish the race and not be the last one in.

It’s not the first year I’ve run when the temps hit the teens and the slush and snow is covering the roads (see the pictures above). I am quite comfortable running in in winter conditions, but I don’t dare slack off now, with only weeks until the race.

So I’m following Run With Hal‘s half-marathon training plan. The mileage is getting longer. It’ll be seven miles on Sunday, the long run for this week, the longest I will have run to date. Four miles has become rather routine and six feels just a bit long. So seven shouldn’t be too bad. I’m bracing a bit for the 10 or 11 mile runs, which I’m assuming will be coming up on the schedule pretty soon.

And I’m getting fitter again. My VO2 max is creeping up. (The definition of VO2 max according to my watch is “the maximum volume of oxygen, in milliliters, you can consume per minute per kilogram of body weight at your maximum performance”. In other words, how efficiently you use oxygen. It had gone down to 30 over the last few months when it had been 33 or 34 in September. Now it’s up to 32 and hopefully climbing. This is the really important number, far more important than pace or miles run as this indicates my level of fitness, which is, after all, the goal of this whole running adventure.

Here is my watch’s reporting of my VO2 max on 9/11/21 and 2/24/22. (Ignore that it says 12/31 on the recent one, not sure why that is happening lately.) Note that my fitness age is lowered considerably with each jump in VO2 max. 33 gets one into the Excellent (blue) category. My goal is to get in the Superior category with VO2 max of 37.8 and up. I wonder how old I’d be if I got into that range??

And look at the cover of Runner’s World on the issue that just arrived today!

It seems it’s not just wishful thinking that this race could get me in really good shape.

The length of the race and the length of the runs preceding it present problems I’ve not dealt with before, not having run as far. I’ll post my revelations as I resolve them, always hoping that I actually do resolve them. So stay tuned.

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