Friday, February 8, 2008

Half Marathon

It sure was nice of Lou to point out that I'm a seasoned veteran (see the previous post). I have completed 44 half marathons, 26 of which have been the Indy Mini marathon. I'm not sure Lou was even born when I ran my first one. This is a great distance for a long challenge but not so long that it will zap your legs for several weeks of recovery as with a full marathon. This is not a good race distance for kids and even high schoolers if they are also planning on running track and cross country. I made this mistake in my youth. I was never blessed with wicked fast track speed and I never, as a youth, appreciated track. So, I started running long races at a fairly early age. I raced my first half at the age of 15, my first full marathon at 18 and my first Boston at 19 (2:38). I now know this is not the best plan for our young runners. I try to encourage my daughters to stick to short races. The early years of running are the prime time for developing leg speed. They then need to gradually build their ability to carry that speed. So, again if kids are interested in track and cross country, encourage them to stick to the shorter races. High schoolers and middle schoolers should learn to run fast in the shorter race distances (5Ks and shorter). This will only help them if they choose to move up in later years. Bob Kennedy didn't race longer than 12K until near the end of his competitive career. Many of the great Marathoners were very successful on the track and in shorter races before they moved up to the marathon later in their careers.

As I said earlier, for older runners (high school & up) who don't need to worry about competing in school sports the half marathon is a wonderful challenge. Just follow what Lou said in his post and you should be fine.

Other than the Indy Mini, my favorite Half is the Ludington Lakestride.
This small Ludington, Michigan race is held in mid June. It starts near the channel next to the Lake Michigan shoreline and goes north into the Ludington State Park for about 2.5 miles on a nice hard sand trail. The course gradually climbs to exit the trails over a large sand dune and then rejoins the road for the last half along the Lake back to the start. It is a hard course to run quick times but you can't beat the scenery.

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