The next race I have coming down the pipeline is the Illinois Half Marathon, at the end of April. It won’t be a new state or a new race, but it’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s so well-organized, the course is flat yet interesting with the numerous changes of scenery, and the weather at that time of year is usually pretty decent. All in all, it’s a great course for PR attempts. I’ve PR’d there the last couple years, but this year, barring illness or outrageously hot weather, I’m going for a big one: I’m shooting for my first sub-2:00 half. As my friends and I joke, it’s my “breaking 2” attempt, in a nod to Kipchoge’s efforts to do the same (for twice the distance…).
For me, sub-2:00 is within the realm of possibility, but I knew from the outset it was going to take some work. To take my training to the next level, I began adding an interval day to my weekly routine about a month ago. Not going to lie, at first it sucked in every possible way. The fast stretches felt interminable, I struggled even to break 8:30 for some of the later repeats, and I ended up sounding like a wounded water buffalo by the time I “sprinted” down the final stretch.
I stuck with it, though, and lo and behold, as my more experienced runner friends have assured me, it has gotten better. I’m now up to 7×400-meter repeats, and I’m starting to hit most of them under 8:00, which is ideally where I’d like them to be. Next step: improving at holding it together on the penultimate interval, which is consistently my slowest!