Part 2: 0 - 13.1

Brian Fantana: So the team pancake breakfast is tomorrow morning at nine, instead of eight. Ron Burgundy: Oop... I almost forgot. I won't be able to make it fellas. Veronica and I trying this new fad called uh, jogging. I believe it's jogging or yogging. it might be a soft j. I'm not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It's supposed to be wild.  -Anchorman (Link)


I was introduced to Ironman by my then boss, Graeme. I don't remember hearing about Ironman before that. I may have heard it on TV, but I never really paid attention to it.  An Ironman is a multi-sport race consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride, and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, raced in that order,without a break, and a 17 hour time limit.  I thought this was ridiculous and pointless.

Graeme mentioned, in passing, that he hadn't actually completed a full Ironman but just a half IronMan (or the Ironman 70.3). Jokingly and annoyingly, I started calling my new boss an "Iron Boy."

One day, Graeme finally had enough. He challenged me and said, "I have a deal for you, I will register for a full Ironman if you register for a half marathon or you can shut up about the Iron Boy stuff."

A half marathon? 13.1 miles?! I don't know what possessed me, but I said "Ok." He didn't accept that as an answer. He took it further and said, "Go find a half marathon and send me the confirmation email." I walked over to my desk, searched for a half marathon and found the 'Dover half marathon'. Dover sounded pretty and it was six months away. I'd never been to Dover, England before. Areeg likes traveling to new places, so I knew this would be a win-win. Being an American living in London, I had no idea that Dover, England was very, very hilly. With my registration complete, I then asked him, "What's the first step?" His response was "go run a slow mile."


That weekend we went over to Regent’s Park and I ran a slow mile. It was easy, almost too easy. I went back to Graeme and asked, "What now?" Unsurprisingly, he responded with "Now run 2 miles…." Basically, all I did from then on was add one mile every Sunday to the long runs and ran a "hard run" during the week.

Whether he realized it or not, this two simple steps became the bedrock of much of my athletic success:

  1. Register for the event right away. This created a sense of urgency and social pressure.  
  2. Don't overload myself with too many changes. Eg. Just add one slow run. This set me up for success rather than failure.

After the first few runs, all my stress, fogginess, and confusion seemed to disappear. Things became clear. My mind is a cross between a Stephen King novel and a Bourne Movie. Something about running seemed to quiet my mind. I was hooked on the post-run feeling. Looking back, I think the key to why I enjoyed running so much was that I didn't run very hard. It wasn't painful or unpleasant.

I followed this routine for 13 weeks adding a mile every week, running the outer circles around Regent's Park in London. A heavily pregnant Areeg and Yusuf would come and play inside the park and would meet me every half an hour at the same spot and give me water and a high five. This was Yusuf’s favorite part of the park visit and mine.

The night before the Dover half marathon arrived. As I got into bed, Areeg was setting the alarm for the next morning.  I looked at her with a feeling of dread and said, "I can't do this, I don't feel well. I will do another half marathon when I feel better." She said, "You are doing this, whether you like it or not!" I could feel the anxiety brewing in my stomach to the point that it was painful.

I ran the 2008 Dover half marathon (10 Feb 2008) in just over two hours in my long baggy shorts and a gray thermal and a backward Yankees cap. It was very painful. I was not ready for the hills. I limped for days. But I hadn't felt that fulfilled in a long time. I began understanding why people would say that endurance athletics was more mental than physical. 

10 mental phases of a race

  1. Registering for the race "It could be fun"
  2. Preparing for the race "I am not training enough"
  3. The night before the race "I'm not ready and I might be coming down with something"
  4. The morning before the race "Why am I doing this to myself"
  5. The first couple of minutes "I need to pee, I should have peed!"
  6. The half way point "I can't believe it's only half way!"
  7. The the 3/4 of the way through "Everything hurts; this is stupid"
  8. The finish line is in sight "I'm an Olympic athlete"
  9. Immediately after the finish line "Never again"
  10. 5 hours later "When is my next race?"

What I spent 

  • Asics Kayano Running Shoes(They looked cool)
  • Entry to the Dover half marathon
  • Travel and hotel in Dover

Training schedule

WeekShort WorkoutLong Workout
11 mile slow run(yog) and 1 mile fast walk. Slow enough that I could talk to somone on the phone
22 mile yog and 1 mile fast walk
33 mile yog 1 and 1 fast walk
45k tempo run. I tried to run the 5km as fast as I could & get a little bit faster every week.4 + 1
55k tempo5 + 1
65k tempo6 + 1
75k tempo7 + 1
85k tempo8 + 1
95k tempo9 + 1
105k tempo10 + 1
115k tempo11 + 1
135k tempo12 + 1
145k tempo13 + 1
155k tempoRest
It would mean a lot to me if you leave a comment with any comments, corrections or areas I should expand.