Asheville Half Marathon Success with ChiRunning
First of all, I want to say an enormous thanks to all of you who continue to read my running blog and leave comments, feedback and encouraging pieces of advice. Hopefully my posts are encouraging for you as well!
The Asheville Half Marathon went extremely well on Saturday: the weather was incredible, the fans were loud and the course was challenging. Shelly, her friend Emily and I all started running together across the start line. I was very adamant on staying happy, focused and slow at the beginning. I felt a little silly as loads of people went barreling past us, but I knew in my body that if I didn't start running at an easy pace, I’d pay for it later.
So I held myself back, running at a nice easy clip and Body Sensed my way very carefully through the first two miles. At about mile 3, there begins a fun series of undulating hills. I really let my body go with the flow and crept up the uphills and sped quickly running down the downhills. It’s pretty fun to go cruising down the hills, knowing that I am going to feel fine, watching other people curiously turn their heads as I pass. I saw many people using their quads and holding themselves back. As Danny says in the book and in our training programs, “Surrender to the speed, Grasshopper!”
From mile 4-8, I had the biggest grin of a lifetime on my face. I really think the spectators must have wondered what I was so thrilled about. I simply felt wonderful: prepared, familiar with the course, full of positive self-talk and plenty of Form Focuses up my sleeve to keep me motivated and safe through the race.
Mile 9 – 10 is an entire 1 mile climb up a fairly steep road, Lookout Mtn. I did well on it by using my upper body to get me up the hill and focused on taking small, reasonable steps. I breathed out 5 and in 3 counts, and used my y’chi to focus my energy up the hill rather than down. I saw my friend Heather on the hill and I was so impressed with her performance that I myself got re-inspired.
I knew my running time was faster than my typical 10 min/mile pace when I reached the top of Lookout and was under 100 minutes. But I wasn’t concerned with my finishing time; as you read in my pre-race post, I just wanted to finish running injury-free.
When I rounded the bend at the beginning of Broadway, which is somewhere between mile 11 – 12, I recognized that I had probably been running a little too fast during my elated miles 4-8, but knew I could keep it together, and just backed off my lean, shortened my stride, and turned on my metronome to keep me in good rhythm. That last 1.5 miles were challenging, but I kept smilling, thanking the volunteers, and imagining how great I would feel about 10 minutes after the race. I dug deep and finished strong. The photo below pretty much says it all as I crossed the finish line: triumphant success.
I think the most important take-away message from running a successful race, for myself and for anyone, is that anything is possible: whether it be pain and injury-free training, a PR on a difficult course (yes, I did PR!), or anything performance-related in your personal or professional life, the most important thing you can do is “set up the conditions for energy to flow” (thanks, Danny). The ChiRunning technique and ChiWalking technique can help you figure out what those conditions are for running and walking, and those skills transfer into the rest of my life, helping me identify what steps I can take to create the conditions for energy to flow in the rest of my life as well.
For those of you interested in stats, there were 1,288 Half Marathon runners, and this is where I stacked up:
9.19 min/mile pace.
final time: 2:00:53.
(I ran Houston in 2:05… and Houston is a flat course!)
Many thanks to Danny and Katherine for providing me (and the world) with the techniques for success, thanks to Shelly and Bob for being my running buddies, to Kristin, Edgar and Miguel for cheering me into the finish, and for Ivan and Oliver, who have very patiently and supportively been there the whole way. And thanks to my readers who read this and make comments; it’s wonderful to know you’re out there, too.