We’re at the track and we’ve just run another 2000m when he says to me, “Here’s what I want you to do at the race on Sunday. Run very slowly, like a warm-up for the first five kilometers. Then take it slow the next five as well. Never go faster than a 5-minute kilometer. But once you reach the 11th, you can run.”
“What? In a race?”
“You will be running it as a training session. Not a race.”
“I don’t know if I can do that. I really appreciate your help and I want to follow your advice, but I have to be honest: I don’t know if I can do that in a race. I promise I will try. But when all those people are passing me, I don’t know if I will be able do it.”
“Just do your best.”
I laughed a little at myself on Sunday in the middle of the race. He was probably laughing at me. The course was flat until the fifth or sixth kilometer and then we ran up a mountain. An actual mountain, and there was snow at the top. There is no way I would have been able to go any faster than a 6-minute km, let alone a 5-minute km. And I was so glad to have an excuse not to have to even try.
Halfway through the race, we reached the top, and after that it was downhill almost all the way. I flew down and still clocked my worst time ever in a half-marathon. Oh well. It was fun, despite the rain and fog and mud, and I realized how much more I enjoy the actual race when I am not pushing myself to the limits of my lung and leg capacity. It was the first time – since my first half marathon a year ago – that I felt no pain at all, and enjoyed the entire hour and (BLECH!) forty-five minutes. (Okay, okay, forty-six minutes. THE SHAME!)
But my next race is exactly a month away and my hopes are high that he lets me run it like a race.