February 14, 2013 Road to Boston: Week 18 I ran a half marathon here in Colorado this past weekend, in 25-degree weather on sometimes-icy footing. After my bout with pneumonia, my fitness and confidence have been in question. I was a little nervous about how my run would go, but told myself over and over that it was just a training run. However, ever since I first took to the starting line in 1981, running a race is different. No matter the distance or my fitness level, running a race is always special to me. On this day, nothing felt special—cloudy and slight flurries, a couple layers on, and my balky left gastroc reminding me that I wasn’t in tip-top form. I started out in the pack of 500+ runners, slowly jockeying for position and working on settling into a breathing rhythm. “It’s a training run, relax,” I repeatedly told myself. But training runs aren’t done with 500 other people. We ran on the Ralston Creek trail, great for a bike ride or a solo run, but a challenging exercise in navigation with snow, ice, and a crowd of fellow runners. My brain has been consumed with my tender calf since tweaking it a few weeks back; the injury is a result of trying to make up for too much lost training time because of illness. With that in mind, I kept wondering when it would start bothering me. We slowly climbed in elevation while heading west. Somewhere around the 4th mile, I realized that my calf was going to be fine—not great, but fine. From that point on, I started focusing on the race. Even though this was a training run, I was still in a race. My competitive side surfaced and I started thinking about my time. The good news was I have a new watch that shows my mile splits, but doesn’t show my total time. I am a numbers person, and can always calculate my pace and projected finish time in my head. This morning, I just had to run and listen to my iPod—a little Ben Harper, a little Sublime, a little Los Lobos. The turn-around point was nestled in a 300+ foot climb over a half-mile section—a little preparation for Heartbreak Hill, right? At the top, you could see the whole way home. And my legs are like a horse to the barn. Once we know where we’re going, we get there. Heading back down the hill was a nice feeling, and my momentum took me to mile 12, when my legs reminded me I have yet to put in the long runs necessary for the Boston Marathon. With the finish line in sight, I picked up the pace, got passed by a younger guy who said, “sorry, man,” as he sprinted past with 100 feet to go. (Tip: never apologize. It’s a race!) Crossing the finish line, I hit stop on my watch and saw 1:54—nothing to brag about, but faster than I thought I’d run. Maybe this calf will be okay. If you are so inclined, I’d love your support for the Massage Therapy Foundation—the charity I’m running for in April. I’d love it so much I did sit-ups on camera just for you: Care to receive more from Les, but in smaller bites? Follow him on Twitter at @abmp_les.