Six Tunnels Half Marathon
The healthiest way to progress your own running is to increase your mileage gradually over time. This will keep your injury rates low by allowing your musculoskeletal system to gradually adapt to the repetitive stresses of running. The quicker you increase your mileage, the higher a risk you are for having some overuse injury.
Three years ago my mom started running. She had run some when I was younger but had stopped over the years. I remember her saying that her hips would hurt her when she went hiking and thought she had arthritis in her hips. She started running in 2009 so that she might just be able to run a few miles of my 30 at 30 birthday run with me.
Since then she has continued to gradually progress her mileage. She eventually ran a 5k and then a 10k and about 6 months ago so expressed interest in running a half marathon. Her long runs were about an hour and she was running 3-4 times a week. I advised her on how to gradually progress her runs so that she would be able to run for over 2 hours while staying consistent and healthy with her training.
Her goal race came one month before her 60th birthday and turned into a family reunion party weekend. After looking at her long runs we thought a goal time of 2:15 was attainable. I signed up to run with her and keep her motivated.
She was very prepared for this race. She rarely missed a workout and was very dedicated to her training. She has had very few musculoskeletal issues over the last 3 years. Her core exercise program has helped keep her hips and core in good balance.
We got out to the race early and realized right away that we were almost the only ones not wearing green (the race was on St. Patrick’s Day). This turned out to be helpful for our family to find us since we were wearing yellow and pink!
The race start and course is very narrow and our first mile or so was slow due to lots of runner traffic. After 2 mile we settled into a groove and I let my mom set the pace. We were cruising at 9:30 pace for most of the race. She was looking really strong, talking easily, and saying how great she was feeling.
The race passes through 6 tunnels, 5 of which were old railroad tunnels to Hoover Dam. My GPS lost a signal in each one and since I had my autopause on it also stopped the running time on the race. This meant my watch was not giving me any accurate information. I could tell that our pace was not slowing though. At the halfway point the wind really started to pick up. and there were a few hills late in the race. The wind around the lake seemed to swirl around, sometimes at our back and sometimes in our face, but always blowing sand in our faces.
The wind got worse and worse but my mom kept pushing toward the finish line. She really showed some toughness out there as we passed many people who were now walking. With a few miles to go we realized that she was going to be way under her predicted goal time.
She had a huge cheering squad at the finish line and finished strong in 2:05:47! She looked like she could have run a few miles further. I was very proud of her determination through the tough windy conditions. She was awesome and never gave up! To top it all off, the next day she looked like she could have run another one.
She was second in her age group 55-59, and if the race was a month later she would have been in the 60-64 age group and would have won that by 15 minutes.
Thanks to all our family members for supporting my mom at her first half marathon! This goal was really 3 years in the making and she should be very proud of herself. I know it will not be the last.
Since starting running she has had less hip pain than when she was not running.
Happy Birthday Mom!!