In twelve weeks, I hope to be in the best running shape of my life and break a 1:39:59 time at the Securian Winter Run (Half Marathon.)
All I have to do is train harder than I’ve trained before. Which I can definitely do. But I need to stick to it.
Oh hi, by the way. My name is Mark. I started running when I was in ninth grade in 1997 when I joined my high school’s cross country team on a whim, mainly because a lot of my friends were involved in it and I didn’t want to feel left out. It was a good decision, but I haven’t always been the most dedicated runner.
I was never a star runner in high school, and in fact came into Cross Country with absolutely no family background in running. I joined the golf team in seventh and eighth grades, which was the extent of my athletic participation since quitting baseball when I was ten. So, going from zero to 5ks at age 15 was a big shock to my body. I took many an ice bath that first cross country season, and I got used to being the kid who got the “pity clap” at the end of the race. But I never considered quitting–not because it didn’t feel extremely hard (it did), but because the thought never crossed my mind to quit.
Through the rest of my cross country career, I moved myself up from being at the end of the pack in every race to finishing in the middle, where I generated my 5k PR that still holds to this day, 21:07, in my very last high school cross country race. (My senior year season after the one that ended early for me when I collapsed near the end of a race and was rushed to the nearest emergency room. I was on my way to PRing in that race, dang it. But that’s for another blog post.) The following track season, I PR’d my 1 mile time — 5:49, which also holds to this day.
Then, I got to college, and got lazy.
My freshman year of college, I definitely put on the freshman fifteen. (Probably more like the freshman thirty, to be honest.) For whatever reason, I never made the connection between the good stuff I was doing in high school and how it could trickle down(*) into the rest of my life. Sure, I had spurts where I got “back on the train” for a few months, but never fully committed to building this great thing that I started on a whim.
(*)It’s the height of political season, so forgive my colloquialism.
Then my professional career started and I stayed lazy. Okay, not “fully” lazy, because I was learning a lot as a young public accountant, but I did not make staying healthy a habit. I studied for (and failed, a lot) for the CPA exam(**), for a few years, and continued to go down an unhealthy path.
(**)The CPA exam is taken in four parts, usually over the course of 18-24 months. Studying for each part takes about two months, and about 20-30 hours of studying per week. i didn’t start passing it until I actually committed to doing that.
It took a lot of self-reflection (and, frankly, a lot of support from my awesome wife Brigitte) to get to the point to quit messing around with the CPA exam and just pass the thing. I finally did pass in February 2010 and was licensed in May 2010. At our local gym around that time, I remember seeing a map of the Twin Cities Marathon route and having the same sudden light-bulb go on in my head that went on in ninth grade: “I should do that.”
So, as soon as I was licensed, I dove in headfirst to marathon training. (Considering my longest race I’ve ever run before that were 5ks, I think this was kind of insane of me to do.) It helped that I essentially used the mental energy I needed to pass the CPA exam to push myself to the Twin Cities Marathon. All in all, throughout the experience, I regained my love for running (though not without a lot of really, really tough training days) and haven’t stopped since. Since I started running, I have lost about 35 pounds and improved my 5k times from the mid-30s that I was running in the few times I ran 5ks in college back down to a “near” PR 5k a few weeks ago, 21:40.
But, I’m back at a crossroads. I’ve gotten to a new plateau where I need to push myself to achieve the next level. And that next level is, improving in the Twin Cities Marathon, where it all started. The first signpost is getting that 1:39:59 at the Securian Half so I can qualify for Corral 1 at Twin Cities. I have a twelve week plan that I started yesterday with a great six mile run and a BodyPump class. I plan to achieve all of that with y’allz inspiration helping me get there
But it really starts with me. (As wacky as that link is, a short film by my friend Sean, the overall message is true. No spoilers; just watch to the end.) I need to do it. And I need to commit to it.
Let’s do this.