This is the story of my wife's couch to 25k. First let me say that if you know Michelle, she has always said running is a spectator sport. She has always supported me and my crazy adventures and been there with her camera to capture the moments. Many times she is just as tired as I am after a race from finding her way around courses so that she can crew me and get pictures. Enough of that though, this story is about her running McKay Hollow Madness 25k.
I don't remember the exact details of what made her want to do the race but I think it had to do with her completing the Huntsville Half Marathon, which she completed in 2:40:37. I basically challenged her to try McKay since it was "only" two miles further. She knew that it was hard just from me talking about it in the past. One thing lead to another and boom she was registered. I told her that she would have to train for the race or I would not let her do it. Well, throw in a son playing baseball, a daughter playing volleyball and me, a needy husband with a busy schedule, and when do you have time to train?
The training - over the past couple months, we tried to run different sections of the course and get in 4-5 miles at a time. This was usually one day a week, the rest of the time we would try to run some of the flat trails in our neighborhood. This was typically 2-3 miles at a time usually one day a week. This sounds like two days a week averaging 6-8miles, well I just looked at her log and I was exaggerating.
Here is the real log:
January - 3 training days - 6.85 total miles
February - 7 training days - 23.8 total miles
March - 4 training days - 15.7 total miles (not including the race)
The game plan - well I threw out the not letting her race if she did not train. We went in with the goal of finishing in the cutoff time. For the women reading this, the answer is yes, we had to go shopping to try to find a cute outfit that matched her new bright pink Sketchers trail shoes. We also had to buy several different kinds of snacks for the race since she had not trained with anything and we were not sure what she could eat.
The race - we started out slow but faster than what I thought she should be running so I kept telling her to slow down. By the time we entered the trail head we were near the back of the pack. Honestly, this is exactly where we needed to be. This early in the race any time we came to a larger hill I told her to walk and conserve energy. Early on it is easy to run some of these, but with the training she had done I knew it would catch up later. When we arrived at the first aid station we were way ahead of the cutoff and due to not drinking much our bottles were still partially full so we skipped this aid station. I keep telling her that she needed to eat and drink, at times even giving her Honey Stinger chews/waffles. Because she hates to eat when running and did not train with food she would not eat enough. In the next section, she started to have problems with her stomach bothering her. She was a trooper and kept pushing on. I was amazed when we made it to the second aid station still way ahead of the cutoffs and on pace to finish around 4:30. We refilled our bottles for the first time and even the aid station workers told her that she was not drinking enough. Everything was going good until we descended on Arrowhead Trail to Big Cat Hill. At this point she started running out of energy. Big Cat Hill zapped her even further, once we topped it we were reduced to a true walk/run. Once we reached the bottom creek crossing, I told her to walk through the water to try to refresh her legs some. She did but just barely. We started up Cry Baby Hill and at the next creek crossing (the area where you cross the boulders to stay out of the water) I just jumped in the water and told her that was the trail. Again, she was a trooper and slowly waded through the water. Cruel joke, I know, but it is very refreshing if you have never tried it! Finally, Death Trail, I just kept pushing her to walk with a purpose. I didn't think we lost as much time as we did or that we would be so close to the cut off, but by continually moving forward we made it. Her finish time was 4:53:48.
So what does all this mean? It means I am very proud of my wife. She is an incredible wife, mother and yes she is a runner. There have been many times people have asked if she runs too and I have always said no, but that is not the case anymore. Michelle is a runner! Do I agree with her couch to 25k program? No way, but I do enjoy spending time running with her.
Disclaimers/Warnings - If you are getting started running, I would not recommend trying to complete any 25k with this little training. I ran with her the entire time and experience with the course as well as regular training will make your experience much more enjoyable. My minimum recommendation is that you do the race distance mileage for your longest week of training before the race. You should gradually build to this level. Secondly, nutrition plays a key role in any longer race, we chose Honey Stinger since she used it at the Half Marathon.