Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Shamrock Half-Marathon: WWJBD?

Some might be thinking my letters are not quite right up there. I’ll get to that in a few.

Today I ran my fastest ever half-marathon. By far. I ran 13.1 miles in 1:56:53, a pace of 8:54 min/mile.  My previous best had been 2:01:27 (9:16min/mile). Before that it had been 2:09 (9:50 min/mile).

Shamrock Half-Marathon Results Page - 1:56:53
It was the first time I have ever broken 2 hours in an official half-marathon race. It’s a goal I’ve chased (literally) for years and it had eluded me many times in the past. Slippery little bugger.

It took me a while to figure out my problem.  At first I thought I was just incapable of running that fast. Or maybe it was a matter of training and/or nutrition. Or doing some core strengthening as well as running.

And honestly it was all of those. But that still wasn’t enough.

I finally realized if I was going to run a sub-2:00 half marathon I was going to need to JB a race.

Ummm, what?

JB– we’ll call him Josh Bun (because I'm not sure he'd want me to use his real name since he'll probably be famous some day) – is a running friend; one of the fastest people I know.  But it’s not just that he’s fast, it’s how he runs in a race – any race – that caught my attention.

JB runs as hard as he can for as long as he can. He leaves every bit of himself on the race course. Every single bit.

It’s not uncommon for JB to barely be able to be able to walk, or even function coherently, when he’s done with a race. He’s like the opposite of Jeff Galloway’s famous walk/run method. If Jeff Galloway’s theme is “You can do it – just take it easy so you don't get injured!,” JB’s theme is more:

“You can do it much faster than that, and it’s gonna hurt, and you’re almost going to die, and you might injure yourself, but you'll heal. Eventually.”

I’ve run a couple of my Ragnar Relay races with JB, and been around him during a marathon, and to be honest, I’ve, on occasion, scoffed at his running full-out, as-hard-as-you-can-go method. It seemed a little overkill to me -- especially the time he threw himself on the ground after a Ragnar leg because he didn't think he had run fast enough (one of my favorite Ragnar stories of all time, btw).

I think his running method is a reflection of his personality: he strikes me as a very genuine and enthusiastic person. Pretty much the opposite of me.

(Wait. I think that makes me a lying pessimist. Hmmm… Uh, okay.)

The truth is, what has kept me from breaking a 2:00 half before today has not necessarily been my running ability, nutrition, training or strength.

Me just before crawling to my car.
It’s been my mind trying to protect my body.

At previous races when my mind said at Mile 2: “Hey, you’re running a 8:45 min/mile. We’re pretty much going to die by Mile 12 if you don’t slow down,”  I listened and slowed down. Sometimes way down. But then by Mile 11 it was too late to pick up my speed enough to get the finishing time I wanted.

So today, as I began my race I asked myself: What would Josh Bun do? WWJBD?

He would run as fast as he could for as long as he could. And when he felt tired, he would harden up and run faster.

So that’s what I did.

It’s kind of like in The Matrix when Morpheus and Neo are sparring. Morpheus, knowing Neo is capable of so much more if his mind will just let him, demands:  You’re faster than this. Don’t think you are. KNOW you are.

My mind tried to get me to slow down at Mile 2 (and 5, 7, 8, 12, 13) but I didn’t. Instead, I JB’d it, and told my mind to take a hike. I didn’t think I was faster than previous half-marathons. I KNEW I was.

My splits for those who care:
Mile 1 – 8:37
Mile 2 – 8:35
Mile 3 – 8:47
Mile 4 – 8:41
Mile 5 – 8:54
Mile 6 – 8:30
Mile 7 – 8:55
Mile 8 – 8:47
Mile 9 – 9:04
Mile 10 – 8:57
Mile 11 – 8:52
Mile 12 – 9:03
Mile 13 – 8:55

Of course, it hurt. A lot. That’s part of the joy of the JB method of running: leaving it all out there on the race course.  But I don’t see myself leaving this couch any time today. Or maybe tomorrow.

But most importantly, I came home with my sub 2:00 Half.

So, WWJBD right now? Hopefully, be proud of how I ran.


  1. I was a faithful disciple of the WWJBD running method today too and it paid off big time. At mile 24 of my marathon facing yet another uphill I pondered walking. Then I asked myself, WWJBD? He would sprint up this hill like the Atlanta Po Po was chasing him! So that's what I did! Lol

  2. Congrats on a great race. Loved reading this race report. It was excellent! WWJBD, I'm thinking the guy just might be be a legend someday. Thanks to you, i'll be thinking about him during my next race.

  3. Congratulations on your first sub-2! That's my major goal for the year. Congrats on an awesome job! :)