Half the distance does not equal half the accomplishment

Recently, I’ve been forced to face up to the realities and consequences of making tough decisions, whether my own or those of someone else. Before even moving out to Oklahoma, I had set this lofty (yet attainable) goal for myself of training for my first full marathon. That’s 26.2 miles. Yeah... I completed about 5 weeks of training with my awesome running group in Greensboro, NC (led by Marisa Pirih) before my move and have continued training on my own once I got to Norman, OK. The solo training has actually gone extremely well. I have run in three races (two 5K’s and a half marathon) in the past 6 weeks and with each one I beat my on personal record.

Somewhere along the way, life threw me a curveball and gave me new and unexpected (yet welcome) distractions that affected my sleep patterns. This in turn affected my training, of course. Getting up at 6:00 a.m. for hill repeats after getting only 4 hours of sleep is likely not the smartest move that I’ve made.

I can’t put all the blame on my lack of sleep, though. I have been doing quite a bit of traveling on the weekends when I should be putting in the miles for my long runs. Ironically, two of these weekends out of town were for races and I either didn’t have the energy or the time to squeeze in my long run.

Okay, so why am I giving a laundry list of excuses?

I have decided to scale back to doing the half marathon in Raleigh instead of the full 26.2. Yes, I’m disappointed, but I’m choosing to focus on all the positive aspects of my training, including my increased speed and distance, even if the longest run I’ve done is 17 miles. I’m going to have plenty of opportunities to accomplish this 26.2-mile feat. A runner friend of mine told me today that the peak running age is 46. There is absolutely no data (or truth) to such a claim, but it did emphasize that I’ve got several running years left in me.

Now for the revised goal:

Finish the Rex Healthcare Half Marathon in 2 hours or less.

I ran the Heels & Hills & Him half in 2:03 and that was in sunny 80° temps in TX (and with a half mile of walking). I’m thinking that even with the hills of Raleigh, I should be able to keep a better pace in the cool temperatures of NC at the beginning of November. If you find yourself in Raleigh at 7am on Sunday, November 1st, please come on out & cheer me on. 

Found some hills...and chickens and horses and wild turkeys

One of my concerns moving out to Oklahoma in the middle of my marathon training was how flat it is here. Flat in Central North Carolina? Not so much. The City of Oaks Marathon course? Definitely not! I had two wonderfully flat runs around the OU campus earlier this week, but I've been on the lookout for some hills to better prepare myself for November's race. A chance drive down an unknown road that's one block from my neighborhood made everything right in the world.


This 5-1/2 mile stretch of rural asphalt starts with some very subtle rolling hills as it winds away from civilization. These seemingly unending hills get larger and larger the further you go. As the path unfolds, you are alternately shadowed by trees (and the musky odor of skunk) and then surrounded acres and acres of farmland (and the sweet smell of horse manure).

For the entire duration of my 6-mile run, I was wishing I had brought my camera with me (or at least my phone) so I could capture some of the experience on "film." Instead, I decided to return to my new beloved road this morning for a leisurely walk. Maybe I was moving too fast yesterday to notice, but this morning I stumbled upon two chickens on the side of the road (no doubt pondering the ramifications of crossing). They were quite friendly and posed for the camera, as did the horse and wild turkeys. Well... the wild turkeys were off running in the distance, so I quickly caught them with my zoom, so they're a bit of a blur.

I'll be heading up to Oklahoma City bright & early tomorrow morning for a 13-mile run around Lake Hefner. Then classes start Monday!

The one where he moves to Oklahoma to train for a marathon with a marimba in tow...

Okay, there are nuggets of truth in this statement, but as a whole it’s not entirely accurate. Tomorrow, I am indeed moving “where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain” to be a Sooner for 4 months. I am also training for my first full marathon and the bulk of the training will take place in Oklahoma (but the race itself will be in Raleigh, NC). Margarita the marimba will be making the trek as well.

I’m taking a 4-month hiatus from my glamorous life in G’boro to accept a one-semester position as Visiting Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Oklahoma while Dr. Lance Drege is on sabbatical during the fall semester. My teaching responsibilities will include lessons for undergraduate and graduate students, directing the fantabulous OU Percussion Orchestra, and heading up Percussion Studio Class. Here are some upcoming highlights for the semester:

November 10 at 8:00 p.m. – OU Percussion Ensembles Concert
November 11-14 – Percussive Arts Society International Convention (Indianapolis, IN)
November 30 at 8:00 p.m. – Nathan Daughtrey, Visiting Faculty Recital
December 15-19 – Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic (Chicago, IL)

There will no doubt be more events to add to this brief calendar (student recitals, holiday percussion ensemble concert, Sooner football games) once I arrive & get acclimated.

Apparently I didn’t think this would be enough to keep me busy his fall, so I’m training for my first full marathon – the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh, NC. I ran my first half marathon last October and it kind of owned me – a very hilly course here in G-town that ends with a nice uphill flourish. Ugh. Pain. Accomplishment. Joy? I don’t know, but I had definitely caught running fever. The plan was to run another half marathon this fall, but as soon as I learned I’d be moving to OK, I decided that being in a new place would be the perfect opportunity to increase my mileage and aim for the full 26.2 miles. Not sure where the logic is there. Whatever, here’s my fall race schedule:

September 5 – Brookhaven Run 5K (Norman, OK)
September 27 (2 days before my birthday, btw) – Heels & Hills & Him Half Marathon (Irving, TX)
October 3 – Komen Race for the Cure 5K (Houston, TX)
November 1 – City of Oaks Marathon (Raleigh, NC)


I have a great network of runner friends here in Greensboro, so I can only hope I’ll find the same in Norman.

I’ll be doing quite a bit of blogging as the semester unfolds (for me that probably means one entry a month, but it’s at least something...).