I’m Running My First Half Marathon!

Keeping cool on a 36-mile hike from Boulder to Estes Park.
Keeping cool on a 36-mile hike from Boulder to Estes Park.

When the North Face delivered a package at my doorstep when I first moved to Boulder, it started to inspire ideas. Good ideas. Bad ideas. Insane ideas. A few weeks later, they invited me to announce my best idea. Probably the best I’ve had in a while. I’m going to run my first Half Marathon on August 27 in Park City, Utah.

I’ve never run a race. Ever. I sat at a cafe watching the Bolder Boulder and cheering on my friends who were running the 10k. I live with two badass ultrarunners and a triathlete who have exposed me to a new world of training, athleticism, and ambitious outdoor sport in which I never imagined I myself might fall into.

So I’m officially doing this. I’m lacing up by boots and running 13.5 miles through the red rock hills of Utah thanks to the encouragement of my roommates, and my incredible partners at The North Face.

The North Face Endurance Challenge is a series of annual trail races across the United States which test competitors from a 5K to a grueling 50-mile competition. The course will start from the Park City Ski Resort and traverse a section of the Wasatch Range, climbing over 3,400 feet in 13-miles, following ski lines, single track mountain biking trails, lift hills, and uneven dirt roads before climbing into the spectacular hills above the magnificent Utah landscape.

I only started lightly trail running last summer when I was living in Seattle, running the hills on the oceanside Carkeek Park for 2.5 miles and gaining 300-feet of elevation. By the end of the summer, and thanks to the multiple mountain ascents that I made in the summer, I felt that my endurance and my pace had dramatically improved, so going into this, I’m brimming with confidence, if not a little nervousness. I’m not expecting to shake records here, but I have two goals going into the journey.

  • I want to finish the course.
  • I want to have fun.

Furthermore, I’ve been biking nearly daily, working more on endurance and aerobic work with increased weight and core workouts for stability and balance. I’m working not to add mass, but to push my workouts in building tone, physique, and a combination of fitness that serves both for running and for high alpine climbing. I’ve been in the gym three days a week, alternating between weights and climbing, and switching every other day with runs and biking, hoping to be able to run at LEAST 10-miles on a steady pace by the end of July. My first run earlier last week with my roommate covered approximately five miles at a 10 minute pace, which is the perfect standard, and where I feel I can still improve. My base running time is already at the perfect average and I feel that I can only go up from here.

Besides running, my gym work serves as a supplement to gaining strength and stability. I’ve focused on smaller weights and more reps to build lean muscle, but do so in a way that I’m not forgoing the strength that I’ve built up for climbing, which I plan to continue practicing throughout the summer. My typical gym workout looks like so:

  • 3 sets of shoulder presses (10-12 reps)
  • 3 sets of curls (Practiced in three variations 10-12 reps)
  • 3 sets of kettlebell swings and squat (10-12 reps)
  • 1 set of rowing machine (15-20 reps or until failure)
  • 3 sets of back extensions (10-12 reps while holding heavy weight)
  • 3 one minute wall-sits
  • 3 sets bicycles (30-40 reps)
  • 3 sets inverted sit ups with weight (12-20 reps)
  • 3 sets of planks, one minute each: front, left, and right side.
  • squats until failure
  • 3 sets of step-ups with small weights.
  • supplement with twice a week run and five-day-a-week bike which will increase as race-day approaches.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to improve or maximize my workouts, please do so in the comments below.

The North Face Mountain Athletics Series
The North Face Mountain Athletics Series

As for gear, I’ve been blessed that The North Face left some fantastic training and climbing equipment on my doorstep. Some of my favorites, including the Kilowatt Training Shoe, have become an irremovable part of my training arsenal, and the Base Camp, which was originally intended as a slackline and approach shoe, has become one of my favorite lifestyle pieces, wearing it to the park, but also comfortable enough to walk around in during the day. As part of the Mountain Athletics package, I also received the Kilowatt Shirt, Shorts, and Jacket, which have provided some ultra-lightweight and airy gear, which I’ve taken into alpine climbing trips to the Rockies, a 36-mile hike from Boulder to Estes Park, and mountaineering on Quandary Peak.

Finally I got hooked up with the Mountain Athletics app, a free app for Android and iPhone which sets a custom training schedule for all sports from rock climbing to trail running and keeps a calendar of activities and suggested training methods customized by the user. They’ve taken care of me from start to finish and I have a lot to be thankful for in going to this new endeavour.

So there’s just over 100 days to go till race day, and we’re only at the start of an extraordinary summer of climbing, running, training, and athletic. I feel that I’m living up to the ambition that I set for myself when I joined the team, and I can’t wait to see the places where we’re going.

2 thoughts on “I’m Running My First Half Marathon!

  1. Have a great race, Michael! I have a feeling you’ll do just fine. I’ve run a few half marathons and two full marathons, and as long as you put in the time to do the training, you’ll have a great time.

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