Last Saturday, for the first time in my life, I ran ten miles. The number looks impressive. I’ve had several people remark on “double digits” in the lead up to this first one. From any perspective, it’s a milestone moment in endurance training.

The sad truth for my poor legs, however, is that ten miles is less than 40% of the total marathon distance.

The encouraging takeaway from each of the long runs during this training plan is that my stamina hasn’t felt truly tested. Every week, I’m convinced I can squeeze another couple miles out if I had to. I’m resisting the urge. I’m training smart, steady and slowly.

I fear the amount of progress is lulling me into false confidence. Training comes with gains and plateaus. I haven’t hit the latter yet. But I know that I can’t possibly continue for the next 21 weeks free from frustration and setbacks. I’m remaining as optimistic as possible.

To test my fitness level on the way to the Disney Marathon, I signed up for the 39th Annual Ridgefield Pamby Half Marathon on October 4th in Ridgefield, CT. It’s hosted by the local Wolfpit Running Club and should be a great event. I’ll be using this race as my “Proof of Time” for corral placement in Disney. Since past corral cutoffs have been heavily weighted towards projected finishes beyond 4:00, I’m not looking to race too hard, overexert myself and derail a couple weeks of training. Anywhere between 8:30 and 9:15 would be a comfortable pace for the half and would probably guarantee I’m seeded in the top 25% of marathon runners in January. My tentative goal pace is 8:45.

The half marathon will also be an opportunity to test my race nutrition both in carbo-loading beforehand and fueling during the race. It’s obviously nowhere near as intense as a marathon, and running a reserved pace may not require the same habits as if I was attempting a PR (though anything will be my PR the first time), but practicing energy gel timing and the logistics of water station approaches is essential to success when I finally run the marathon.

So cheers to 10 miles, but I continue to look to the real challenges ahead. I’ll have another running-related post once I’ve completed the half marathon. After that, it’s the long journey from 13.1 miles to the 20 mile run 3 weeks out. Then race weekend with the prospect of a week in Walt Disney World waiting as reward.

Ever upward.

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