On the Path to PRogress in the Scenic City
On Saturday, February 23rd, Chattanooga hosted the Scenic City Half Marathon and 5k Challenge. It was a fantastically cloudy, cool day – perfect for racing without risking extreme weather! I started out with an underachieving mindset, since I was running a half marathon alone for the first time, but was intent on finishing as best I felt, even if it just felt like a “training run”. This race was a milestone event for me in many ways, as it was: (1) My fourth half-marathon; (2) the same location of my very first half marathon; (3) the one-year anniversary since joining the No Boundaries Training Program at Fleet Feet; and (4) where I PR’d by 6.5 minutes (!) since joining a second round of half-marathon training at Fleet Feet this past January.
So, how does one PR by 6.5 minutes?
I initially joined the No Boundaries 5k training program one year ago, in February 2012. My motivation to do so was that running was my absolute worst activity and I felt the need to overcome this shortfall as part of my 2012 goals and resolutions. Underscore: I was in no way, shape, or form a runner in any capacity! Little did I know what was in store for me over the course of the next year…
After completing my first 5k at the Run for the Deaf last May, my NoBo’s cohort (now favorite running buddy), Sandy Moss, declared we should all run our first 10k at the Knoxville Expo, only 3 weeks away! I figured agreeing would keep me honest and steadfast to continue running, and with a leap of faith I ran my first 10k shortly after my first 5k. Never underestimate the power of suggestion, because Sandy then managed to lasso me into training for my first half marathon in October!
Fast forward to last weekend: The Scenic City Half Marathon was the same site of my first half marathon (Four Bridges in Chattanooga). From my first half marathon to my best half marathon, I beat my time in Chattanooga by 10 minutes (the insanity!) last weekend.
This was also the first half marathon I ran by myself. I expected to drag myself for 2.5 hours. However, with a strong training base and signs all around reminding me of my running family, I never felt it was a solitary endeavor. In Mile 1, I could hear Shahin and Cheryl’s encouragement, followed by Jeannie’s unmistakable laugh, Henry yelling “Mosh, #2! Mosh!” and hollering “What the hill?!?” at every incline with Sandy and Tanya. There were even more subtle signs – Judy’s camelback in Mile 3, JD’s doppleganger wearing her orange tank at Mile 8 or Connie’s fashionable haircut at Mile 11. I was chasing y’all the whole way – you all got me through!
With the strong running base developed last year, this year I have been able to focus on speed work, consulting with coaches Cheryl and Shahin regarding pacing, and cross-training to make my next race my best race. Since I choose to run using 4x1 intervals (run 4 mins, walk 1 minute), I have been able to experiment on the track with negative splits (even with a walk break!). This is my second round of half marathon training with the Fleet Feet family, with the goal of running the Knoxville Covenant Half Marathon this April.
My biggest challenge now is to force myself to recover. Continuing on a high of an excellent race has only further motivated me to push my limits. But as I am learning, this can only be accomplished with a strong recovery. A strong recovery will lead to a stronger potential for improvement.
Hopefully coming up in the near future, training for my first marathon…(the things you guys talk me into!)
-Shaeen Dewji, Fleet Feet Training Program Member and Contributor