The hecticness is over, at least I can get some rest. On Saturday I ran a 5K, standard fare, but it was really hot so my time was about a minute slow. If I phrase it like that it sounds like I have no influence whatsoever over my time, which is exactly as it should be. I’ll also blame the fact that I had (and still do) a cold. Then after a brief stop at home to shower and change (the 5K was about 2 hours away), I headed straight to my best friend’s birthday party. Unfortunately I hadn’t thought to bring my fiddle so I couldn’t join in the impromptu concert, but I helped out in the kitchen while listening to all the music. After we’d eaten the majority of us hopped into the hot tub, which felt great after a day spent running and driving. That didn’t last for long, though, as I left early so I could get some sleep before the race the next day.
I really shouldn’t be calling it a race. While, technically, it was a race, I should only refer to it as a half-marathon. Considering as it was my first I ought to have taken it easy and above all not take it as a race. Unfortunately I tend to be more brave than wise, but I learned my lesson (or so I’ll maintain until the next time).
I woke up at six this morning and hauled myself to the starting line, a little bit lost and barely on time. Given this I decide to go off with the second wave of runners, which was let off a minute after the first wave. The pace for the leaders of the second wave was supposed to be 7:15-7:30 per mile, and I quickly decided that was too slow as I ended up far ahead of the pack. In fact, I had caught up with the end of the first wave in a matter of minutes and was passing people right and left. At about the second mile mark I caught up with the 7:00-7:15 pace group (there were pacers in orange jerseys for each pace) and ended up staying just ahead of them for quite some time. I felt really comfortable maintaining that pace. Furthermore, running right along side the pacer, was a girl who didn’t look like she could be more than 14, and that’s the absolute maximum. Runners, females in particular, almost always look younger than they actually are, and I took this into account. So when I say she didn’t look like she was more than 14, I mean she looked to be ten or eleven. In any case, I decided that she couldn’t possibly be much better than I, and thus that I could stick with her for most of the race, and then maybe she’d have more kick left than I at the end, or maybe I would. Furthermore, the last 10K race I ran was in about 39 minutes, which I want to say is about a 6:40 pace, but I haven’t done the math so don’t quote me. A half marathon is a little over twice as long as a 10K, thus I figured that I could safely run 20-30 seconds slower.
Almost exactly half way through I learned just how wrong I was. A bit after the 6 mile mark (so after about 10K) the pacer got in front of me. No big deal, I thought, I would just stick with the pack rather than keeping in front of him. About then the young lady who I assumed couldn’t be much faster than me decided she didn’t want to stick with the pack and sped up to stick with a group in front of us. I figured that either she’d been holding back a significant amount or would end up falling back later. I never found out which (I suspect she’d been holding back, which scares me), as I presently reached the point where I could either accelerate and be unable to run any further after the next mile marker, to maintain my pace, which would be almost the same, or to slow down. Grudgingly, I slowed down. A lot. Most of the people I had passed back in the first and second miles came right around and passed me. Eventually I even got passed by the 8 minute mile pace guy. At this point I was bone tired and walking/jogging rather than really running. The first time I slowed all the way to a walk for a few paces to shake myself out I felt like my head was about to float off. When I slowed down all the blood either went out of, or to my head, probably the former. The result was a rather exaggerated runner’s high until I picked up the pace again.
Eventually I made it to the finish line (as soon as I saw that it was close I broke into a mad sprint) and finished in about 1:40. I’ll get the exact time later.
Now, the bad thing is that I didn’t manage 8 minute miles or better, which was my original goal. But I did get my secondary goal of under 2 hours. And, considering my condition (second race in as many days, congested, cold- my chest was hurting from the fourth mile on), along with the heat, meeting only my secondary goal is perfectly acceptable.
(Nonsense, you’re going to easy on yourself. If you’d run smarter and just stuck with the 8 minute mile pacer from the beginning, which should have been obvious, you could have done it, says the voice in my head.)
There were people taking pictures of the runners, I’ll see if I can get some of those when they’re posted, if any were taken of me.