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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 10:30 am

April showers bring hardcore racers

April is fast approaching, and it’s going to be a busy month for a couple of us in the Illinois Times office. Amanda Robert and I are running three races in April, back-to-back-to-back, and we’re pretty excited. We’ve been training officially since January, though we started running in November or December as a sort of “pre-training.” Now that we’re only a month away from the first race, the distances are starting to get long, but we’re ready.

The first race is the Lincoln Memorial Half Marathon (Information/Registration) right here in Springfield. That 13.1-mile race takes place April 3, starting downtown by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and ending outside St. John’s Hospital. Last year, I ran it in 2:18:02 – a bit slower than a 10-minute per mile pace. This year, I’d like to try and get that down to two hours flat. It’s a big challenge, but I’m in much better shape this year than last, having lost 30 pounds and diversified my workout a lot since then. If I’m going to make the two-hour mark, I’m going to have to run about 9 minutes per mile, or 6.7 miles per hour. I hope my knees don’t swell up too much! (See: Runners knee)

The next weekend, we’re traveling to St. Louis for the GO! St. Louis race event on April 10 in Forest Park (Information/Registration). It features a full marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, 5K and more. Since we will have just done the Lincoln Half the week before, we’re going to take it easy with the 5K. (That’s 3.1 miles, in case you didn’t know.) My usual 5K time is somewhere just under 27 minutes. For this one, I’m planning to make it in 25 minutes. That means I’ll have to increase my usual pace by about 40 seconds per mile. Not too hard, I hope.

Finally, we’ll head to Louisville, Kentucky for the Derby Festival Marathon event on April 24 (Information/Registration). Amanda is going to do the full marathon, while I am trying to put together a team for the marathon relay. (If I can’t get enough interested parties, I’ll do the half marathon.) Amanda’s training for the marathon seems pretty intense; she’s doing 16 miles this weekend after doing 15 miles last weekend.

The best part about doing races is the freebies bag. You usually get a cool T-shirt, product samples and coupons. The second best thing is the after-race food. At the Lincoln Half last year, they had pizza, biscuits and gravy and a ton of other awesome stuff to recharge our batteries – all free to race participants! And of course, there’s always the bonus of getting in shape and feeling great about yourself. You get an incredible sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from finishing a big race as your friends and family cheer you on. I can’t explain it, but running races has definitely made me see life differently.

Later this week, Amanda is going to share some information on speed interval training. It’s a great way to build both speed and distance. Until then, leave any questions you may have about training in the comments section below, and I’ll do my best to find you answers.

Take care and GET FIT!

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