Running closer to a New Year’s resolution

04/29/2010 12:00 AM |

Times/Review Newsgroup sports reporter Jake Williams is training to compete in the Long Island Half Marathon. This is another installment in a series of articles about his quest.

If and when I make it to the finish line of Sunday’s Long Island Half Marathon, it will be the first time in recent memory that I will actually have achieved a tangible New Year’s resolution.

I remember announcing my intention to run the 13.1-mile race, but what compelled me to do so is beyond me.

Back in January, my younger brother, Alec, and I were having lunch in New York City while he was home from New Zealand, where he has lived and worked for the past seven years.

The conversation turned to our resolutions, and I said the fateful words, “I’m going to run a half-marathon.”

The statement did not exactly come out of nowhere.

Last summer, my wife, Miriam, and I talked about running a half marathon. While the idea seemed appealing in theory, the actuality of it was too much for me then. The longest run I had completed was seven miles. Nearly doubling that sounded downright scary. I could not imagine doing it, though it took me a while to admit, both to myself and to Miriam, that my fright was the reason for my hesitance in answering. But by December, we were talking about it again.

After the first of what turned out to be several blizzards, I found myself seeking solace on a treadmill. I am a fan of neither cold weather nor of snow, though I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and went to college in Ithaca. I kept promising myself I would eventually move south, but the closest I ever got was Missouri. I chose it over Boston in part because I imagined it would be sublimely mild. It was not.

I found out how cold mid-Missouri could get during my first winter there. I went to knock some ice off my windshield wiper and it shattered in my hand because it was frozen solid.

So I took to the treadmill, an iPod loaded with Van Halen, from Los Angeles, and songs from the various “Rocky” soundtracks so I could imagine I was either running along the Pacific Ocean or, in the case of “Gonna Fly Now,” among the cold, but at least clear, streets of Philadelphia. Yes, my standards are somewhat low. And I still haven’t made it out of snow country.

Nonetheless, I found that after a while, I could run farther, and faster, than I had in a very long time. Gradually, I concluded that I could run a half marathon — or at least that I was no longer afraid to try.

Miriam and I found the evidence a few nights ago. She picked up a pad of paper to write out a grocery list and on it was a to-do list of resolutions we had made together nearly three months ago.

Register for the half marathon. Check. Write about training for a half marathon. Check. Train for the half marathon.


I looked at our half marathon training plan from Runner’s World last weekend, and was dumbfounded to see we are in the final week. Somehow, I made it all the way through the training plan: running up hills, increasing my mileage from six to 12 and, finally, come Sunday, to 13.1.

When I looked through my training notes, I realized I have run 230 miles in preparation for this race since I wrote my first column in the second week of March.

That number is still settling in my mind. But it serves as a powerful reminder of the time, work and energy I have put in to achieving this goal I set for myself. My battered, reeking running shoes serve the same purpose on a more regular basis. Maybe after the race I will leave them outside before getting them bronzed as a souvenir.

Now I am off to face a restless few days before race time. I doubt I will get much sleep before then, but I expect the training, the adrenalin and the energy of a few thousand other race participants will see me through to the finish line.

Once I get there, I will eagerly delve into the half marathon recovery plan. I am fairly certain it will start with carrot cake.

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