Allen, Texas - The New Year’s Double. An inaugural event that was just too tempting to pass up when I first heard about it in early fall of last year. I was likely getting ready for a half marathon and starting to feel a little cocky. Surely, I could run a race on back to back days. The real question was what distance those races would need to be for me to survive. You could mix and match 5k, Half Marathon and Marathon as you wish on the morning of New Year’s Eve followed by the race New Year’s Day.
While I was tempted to throw in a full marathon as one of them, that seemed like much more than I could handle given my training history. In my decades of running, I simply don’t do well after Thanksgiving. I’ve held on to run the White Rock Marathon in early December, but that’s taper time and I like food and beverage way too much to take the month seriously. It was decided. Half Marathon on both mornings. With registration completed, I was fully committed to do something I had not done in 18 years of running races.
Training seemed pretty obvious; back to back longer runs. The second day would gradually build up from a short recover run to approx. 80% of the previous days mileage. So, when I ran 10 on Saturday, Sunday would ultimately be 8 miles. As with a lot of my training...I didn’t really stick to it very closely and only run the above combo a few times. One thing I did do for a few months was increase my overall weekly mileage by about 30% by adding an extra run or two in during the week.
A few days before the event I was both excited and a bit nervous. I knew the first leg was going to be fine and just blocked day two out of my mind. My lack of ideal training was a little worrisome, but my plan was to forget a PR and just save plenty for the second race.
New Year’s Eve - Warm at 8:00 AM and I was slightly overdressed. Walking the water stops and shooting for mid-9:00 pace the first half was comfortable. Clearly many of the other runners were participating both days and the group was wonderfully friendly during a race.
How much to speed up on the second half was the question. I opted to drop it to around 9:00 and then creep into the mid-8’s toward the end if I felt good. Well, the warmth of a bright sun got to me a bit and I realized I was exerting much more effort than I wanted given the next day’s requirement. I still finished with negative splits and a total of 2:02.21. It was almost 5 minutes off my PR set back at the end of October. I shouldn’t have been disappointed because I planned to be several minutes slower than a PR. Yet, part of me thought I could nail 2 hours even with hopes to match it on day two.
Now the tough part. New Year’s Eve with a race the following morning made for a great excuse to avoid any major social outings. Unfortunately, we throw a fondue party for our teenage kids and their friends. Lots of cheeses, fried meats and veggies, melted chocolate and adult beverages for...well...the adults. I helped prepare everything as the primary cook in the house and got the kids rolling in fondue land. I retired to my bedroom to read and nod off to sleep well before midnight.
New Year’s Day - North winds and 41F at race time. This was significantly different from the previous day. I wore similar layers and it turned out to be perfect. Same basic plan with what I thought was a similar pace. Ended up more than a minute slower on the first half this day out of pure caution I suppose. Then, around mile seven, I realized that I felt fantastic. How could it be so? I still held back afraid I might bonk and this elation was simply a hallucination before death. Finally, at mile 10 I cut loose and tried to get the rest paced in the mid-to-low 8:00 range and see how close I could get to yesterday’s time. 2:03.04 final time. 43 seconds. 43 seconds that I knew I could have shaved off if given the chance.
I was obviously thrilled with the whole thing. Two half marathons in two days! My family had already deemed me as insane, but now it was official.
A great metal each day and if you ran both days a commemorative plate to display them both in...great touch. Support on the course was great each day. It helps that it was a looped course, but having enough volunteers to cover those running the full marathon one or both days says a lot about great race organization.
I really only have one last thing to say on the whole thing: Where do I sign up for next year?
Run in Peace, Rest in Grace