First Steps

First Steps by Deborah Wiles
Published in Canadian Running

TWO MINUTES. That's what I missed my half-marathon goal by. Well, 2:224 to be exact. But I'm okay with the twenty four seconds. In fact, until recently I was OK with the two minutes, too. The race showed me that I'm capable of my sub-two hour goal for the half marathon. My time of 2:02:24 is a personal best and an 18-minute improvement from my race just three months earlier. If I had missed by 10 minutes, a sub-two finish would have felt like a pipe dream. But missing by just two minutes on a hilly course in unseasonably heat says to me that I can do it.

Not beating two hours on the first try also means I still have a goal. My new coach is also helping me stay motivated to train hard. I hired Stacy Chesnutt to coach me after I ran that 2:20 half. It had been an enjoyable race. I had stuck with my race plan, ran negative splits and finished feeling perfectly fine.

And yet, I wasn't excited. It was my sixth half-marathon and i knew I could go the distance. Simply covering 21.1K was no longer enough. I wanted to race. I wanted to go fast. Well, at least faster. I needed someone to show me how. Enter Stacy, a top local runner who ran a sub-3 hour marathon in January and has won numerous races. Stacy brings experience, a plan and, best of all, toughness. She knows what it takes to be fast and she has been teaching me, step by step. We've done hills, mile repeats and accelerations to improve my form. She doesn't accept any excuses and can deliver a swift kick to the rear without breaking a sweat. That's exactly what I need.

"Why has your pace fallen?" Stacy yelled from her bike one morning during a training run two weeks before the race. "The hill's over! Get moving!" I tried to channel Stacy's strength on race day but when the two-hour pace bunny passed me with 4K to go. I knew I was done. I wasn't going to make my goal. I still had the race of my life, which was fine with me. Until yesterday. That's when I read that former reality star Kate Gosselin just ran her best half marathon in 1:56:40.

Good for her. But, damn, if she can do it, then so can I. There's another half-marathon in two months that I've got my eye on. A flat, out-and-back course on a crusher-dust trail with only a few runners and no distractions. A quiet race exc3ept for the voices that will be playing over and over in my head: "Why has your pace fallen?" "Get moving!" and that's exactly what I need.