Prolific Half Marathon Running Opportunities
Last year, when I relocated to Portland OR from NY, I decided to run a half marathon every weekend. The reason for that crazy goal was to see and explore my new state, to meet some running friends. I’m always looking to make some connections with the running community.
I started my journey around Labor Day at the Dahlia run in Canby OR. I ran a 2:00:50 half marathon that day. The next weekend I ran two half’s, on Saturday in Tigard and on Sunday in Sunriver. I ran a 2:05 and a 2:15 respectively. Doing two races in one weekend I decided to reduce my speed slightly to prevent injury. And so on it went; every weekend I did one or sometimes two half marathons. I saw a great deal of OR, and some half’s I did in NYC when I went to visit. I was starting to make friends and I was truly enjoying my journey. My pace stayed between 2:00 – 2:25 depending on terrain, elevation, if I was pacing the race (which I do often for clubs like the Red Lizards), and daily life that has a tendency to intervene from time to time.
Adding in Altitude Training
After starting a practice as a Licensed Massage Therapist at Evolution Healthcare & Fitness, I decided to add running on the treadmill in the Altitude Training Room. I was not looking for any real gains in speed, but rather seeking shelter from the rain. Around February, I was sick and tired of being wet on all my runs, so I took refuge in the Altitude Training Room. I spent 1 or 2 days a week on the treadmill doing my usual 45 – 75 minute runs. Throughout the year, my training routine was averaging about an hour a day, 5 times a week. On the weekends, I would do my half marathons.
Altitude Training Improved My Performance
After about 3 months of consistently training in the Altitude Training Room I started to see some serious improvement in my half marathon time, without any extra effort on my part at all. I ran a 1:53 at the Hop Hop half in Portland and was totally surprised because the course was rather hilly. There was no great effort put forth on my part for the extra 7 minutes I gained.
Imagine my surprise when I ran the Narrows half in NYC a couple of weeks later and pulled up to the finish line with a 1:55 on a very windy day! What is going on here? I’m getting faster, without trying. As the year progressed, I ran more and more half marathons and finally I came to the weekend that would be the culmination of my entire year’s worth of work. By doing a great deal of doubles, I was going to finish ahead of schedule. In my last weekend of chasing 52 half’s in 52 weeks I was going to run 4 half’s in 4 days at the Portland Quadzilla over the July 4th weekend.
I lined up at the startling line of the Foot Traffic Flat on day 4. My body should have been exhausted from running 3 half’s the prior 3 days, and basically, 51 half’s in 47 weeks should have left my body tired and ragged. However the adrenaline and serotonin were stronger than the fatigue. I was excited to reach my goal. I had managed to run 51 half marathons in 47 weeks without injury. Perhaps I could put forth a little more effort and try to run a speedier race for my last race in my series and finish strong. I ran my heart out on day 4 of the Quadzilla and my 52nd half in 47 weeks but I never expected to be as fast as I was. I crossed the finish line at 1:50 smiling from ear to ear. I knew I’d easily run my Master Division PR race on the last race of my series! 10 minutes is a lot to shave off for a half marathon, especially since that wasn’t even my goal. When I crossed the finish line smiling from ear to ear, I didn’t feel like I was working too hard. I felt like I still had something left in the tank.
Speaking from Experience
I’ve been running for a long time and I have finished a marathon in all 50 states, twice. I’m certainly not new to training and challenging my body. I’m a bodywork professional, I know how to keep from being injured. I decided early on in this challenge that I was going to be running conservatively all year, so I didn’t incur injury while reaching for my goal. I went out for my usual runs every weekend with a casual and relaxed stride. Doing 52 half’s in 52 weeks’ time was an audacious plan in its own right. I didn’t want to get injured on the journey so I took it easy on my runs, not challenging myself physically. I didn’t change my diet. I didn’t change my running volume. The only change I made was to run in the Altitude Training Room a couple of times a week to escape the bad weather for about 5 months.
This was a great experiment for myself. It proved that I can run a half marathon or two every weekend, without causing injury to my body. It was also a great way to measure just how much one can improve by utilizing the Altitude Training Room. During the training at high altitudes, I encouraged my body to produce extra red blood cells when I ran which parleyed into a 10 min personal record half marathon time. I’m a convert. Next training cycle, I know what I’m going to do more of!