Approximately a year ago I managed to run my first half-marathon. Not only did I manage to finish the race, but I also met my target of finishing it within two hours. This achievement was the result of six month long systematic training on the streets of Amsterdam.
Now — a year later — things are a bit different. I moved form Amsterdam to Barcelona in March. In the move I lost my running rhythm. My running frequency went from three times a week to once a week. Until spring. After mid May it became too warm and humid to move more than absolutely necessary so I stopped running. At the end of August I started running again. I ran two weekends in a row. Then came again a month without running. In sum, the last six months have not been the time of systematic training.
The difference in my training now, compared to a year ago, gave me an opportunity to perform a highly scientific experiment. The goal of the experiment was to show that training is just for losers. I decided to run a half-marathon — without proper training — faster than I did a year ago. Hence I went to the town of Sant Cugat to participate in the 24a Mitja Marató Sant Cugat.
The experiment started well. I ran the first 5k in 25:53 minutes and the next 5k in 26:06 minutes. Everything was going according to plan. Actually, even better than plan because I do not how to divide properly and thus I ran faster than I had planned. So far, so good. I was feeling good and it seemed trivial to beat last year’s time.
Shortly after the 10k mark the tables started to turn. The race became an uphill struggle. Both in the sense that I started to run uphill and in the sense that I started to get very tired. My engine overheated. I lost my pace. I ran the next 5k in 29:24 minutes. But I was still running.
After the 15k mark things went from bad to worse. I was completely exhausted. Game over. After the 17k mark I started alternate between walking and jogging. Small hills were to me as big mountains. Speed bumps turned out to be speed bumps.
After 19k I said to myself: “Are you a man or a mouse? It’s only 2k left. Run!” I turned out to be a mouse. I could not find any energy to increase my pace. I continued alternating between walking and jogging. Shortly, my humiliation was completed. I was overtaken by a clown in full costume. I said to myself: “You cannot let the clown beat you!” The clown beat me. I just could not run.
At the 20k mark I had run/walked the previous 5k in 34:08 minutes. The last kilometer took me additional 7 minutes to complete. I was completely exhausted. But I managed to finish the race.
In sum. I finished the half marathon in 2:02:28. Instead of beating my previous personal best by four minutes — as planned — I was four minutes slower than in the year before. Additionally I was beaten by a clown. By a margin. I had not been able to show that unorganized training is just as good as organized training. My experiment failed.
Even if I did not manage to prove my point I am still quite content with the race. I could at least prove to myself that I am in a good enough shape to run (with some walking) a half-marathon. I also learned the lesson that I should get my training in order before I try to beat my personal best. Presumably.