The New York City Half Marathon website tells me there are 26 days, 12 hours and 13 minutes left until race time. That makes me more than a little nervous. Twenty six days is a lot of time for some things, but when preparing for a half marathon it doesn’t seem like much time at all. In January my focus was just increasing my mileage after taking December off. But now when I run my mind wanders to times. How fast do I want to do this race? Do I want to beat my best time of 2:04:50? That was on a flat course and the first half of the NYC race will be in hilly Central Park. And the fact is I don’t seem to be getting any faster. In fact I think I might be getting slower. I know my endurance is better than last fall but my speed is not. Last week I did start some speed intervals, but even a burst of speed over 200m somehow manages to make everything from my lungs to my stomach to my muscles feel miserable. To be blunt, speed intervals suck any of the fun out of running for me. Given the choice of a very long run or a short run with intervals I will always choose the first option.
So I know speed is not my strength, but does that give me an excuse to not go for a personal best? If I am not aiming for a P.B. am I just cheating myself out of accomplishing something difficult? When I ask that question I remind myself that just running 21.1, not to mention all the prep that goes into it, is difficult in itself. So I am thinking that maybe when I run New York I will aim for a good time, one I can be proud of (maybe 2:12 or under?) but allow myself to experience the fun of the race. I will be seeing NYC for the first time and I will be running a route that will take me past so many famous landmarks. Maybe I should stop for a picture or two or slow down to take in the fact that I, a former non-runner, am running a route many would envy experiencing. I think in the end that this race may not be about the final time, but as they say, more about the journey itself.