An appropriate observation for someone who tries to run a Half Marathon while inadequately trained….
Now for all the sordid details…..
My adventure started on Saturday afternoon. Expo time! This time one thing was different. My oldest son was joining me on his first Half Marathon. We arrived at the expo a little after 4PM. A tribute to the Run Racing organization – for a major race (25,000 or so participants), the expo was incredibly smooth. We were literally in and out in less than an hour. There were *just* enough of the *right* kind of exhibitors to make the expo interesting. We walked through the aisles, collected some samples, and had a chuckle at the people buying new shoes for Sunday’s race (really).
Next up was the highlight for any Running Fat Guy. Pasta! Long story short – I found out this year that the restaurant that we used for last year’s Long Beach dinner is owned by an old junior High School friend’s husband. So – after a little phone tag, I set up dinner at La Parolaccia Osteria Italiana a couple miles from the expo. Blog pals Running Green Girl and a friend, Penny and her dad, akaAlice along with Walter the the herd, Jay, Mags and twitter friends @ridgeley and @tanyamr and her husband all settled in for an evening of friends and food.
Finally, with a full stomach and a couple of yawns, my son and I hit the sack for a few hours of sleep before the big day.
The day dawned early. Not bright. Just stinking early. We were out the door at 4:45 for the 40 minute drive up the freeway to Long Beach. We hit our prepaid parking spot a little after 5:30 AM, geared up and walked the roughly half mile to the start area. We hit the porta potties (there must have been 50 of them) just as the bikes were starting at 6AM. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a big race where there weren’t 20 minute lines for the porta potties an hour before start time!
The morning was overcast with a slight drizzle at times and temperatures in the low 60’s. Really a perfect day for a race. My son and I sat for a few minutes on the grass and discussed race strategy. Finally, about 20 minutes before start, he moved up to the front of wave 3 with the 4:00 pace group, while I moved to the back of wave 4 with the 5:00 runners.Who did I run into? No one other than my pal Slomohusky! (By the way – I now know the secret behind the name “Slomohusky”).We had a great time visiting. Then at 7:00 AM the elites started. Fifteen minutes later, Wave 4 got our starting horn. Five minutes later I crossed the start line. We were on our way.
Excitement – Miles 1 through 6
My plan was no secret. Keep it easy. Keep it slow. So it wasn’t long before Slomo left me in his dust. I ran into Jay in the first couple of miles and wished him well. The first three or four miles of the course goes by pretty quickly as we ran several loops through the harbor. At mile 4 we climb the only “hill” on the course as we headed up an overpass and back into Downtown.
The next couple of miles run through Downtown and Rainbow Harbor, where the crowd support was outstanding!
Throughout this part of the race, I had been watching myself and holding my pace down. I had been averaging around a 10:30 at this point. My knee, which had been the subject of much consternation the prior weeks, seemed to be behaving with my new knee strap. I was sweating pretty profusely though – something no doubt brought on by lack of conditioning and the near 100% humidity.
Mind Numbing Boredom – Miles 6 through 9
A little past the 10K point on the course, we moved onto the beach path. In my opinion, this is the worst part of the course. For the next three miles we ran, sometimes four abreast, on a beach path to never changing scenery. If you’re not from California I can see how this part of the course might be interesting – after all you are running along the beach. But, to be honest – the water isn’t really the open Pacific, but just the inside of the harbor. So – no crashing waves, no dolphins, just man made islands hiding some oil wells. Oh well. Head down.
It was about mile 8 that I first started feeling pretty fatigued. About mile 7 or so I broke out into a brisk walk, and had that sinking feeling in my stomach that the end was near. Sure enough – by mile 9 I was toast. My body was telling me how foolish I was for doing this. Even the soles of my feet hurt from some obviously work out shoes smacking the concrete for almost two hours.
The End is Near – Miles 10 through the Finish
Just as mind numbingly boring as miles 6 through 9 were, miles 10 and beyond are probably the most exciting on the Half Marathon course. We once again picked up crowd support and the closer I got to the finish, the more electricity there was in the air. Unlike last year where I was on my death march on this part of the course, this year I was walking/jogging and enjoying the sights and sounds. We approached “The Split” past mile 10 where the marathoners hang a right to visit the sights of the rest of Long Beach and us halfers continue to the finish.
All I know is at this point I was pretty much mentally done as well. At my pace the finish was 3 miles and 45 minutes away. You’re sooooooo far away from me! But – there wasn’t a whole lot I could do except grin and bear it. So I grinned. Finally in the distance the last left turn into the finish. I remembered that last push into the finish at the end of last year’s full. The feeling of exhilaration as I got my feet moving. This year? Not so much. I broke into a jog and watched my heart rate spike into the nether regions. So – I had to back off again and so gingerly traipse into the finish chute. But hey. I finished. I earned my medal. Bling!
I first started running two and a half years ago. My first marathon was two years ago this January. At that time I was not in shape at all. I had no idea what a training plan was. I went our and ran three or four days a week. And I finished my first Half Marathon in 2:24. This weekend? How does 3:07 grab ya? But, I’m not disappointed because I was able to make sure my #1 goal was achieved – I finished in one piece. Three days later I’m sitting here with a pain free knee. So I think I accomplished what I set out for.
What’s next for me is to take the remainder of this week off. On Monday I’m starting my road back to fitness. Most likely with a rest day (par for the course)….