The time after the half-marathon has been perhaps more stressful and exhausting than the half-marathon itself. I would've written sooner, but shortly after the race on Saturday I went with my sister and new baby niece to see my grandmother in Alabama, followed by a return drive home, a dash to the airport, a dash to work to start my new temporary position at the university (until our grant starts in July), finish grading papers and collecting miscellaney from the kids and turing in final grades to the registrar, plotting for my trip to DC for a meeting, and doing some data checking for my dissertation. In between I agreed to help co-write the evaluation portion of a small grant, help a friend get connected to some folks before writing his own grant, and took on a new freelance opportunity with the paper. It's hardly shocking then that I had to push a freelance deadline back to the middle of the month. On the bright side, I'm going to see the O's Saturday, and I got a free radio subscription for baseball on the internet, through which I caught the Marlins-Braves, Jays-O's, and Nats-Dodgers yesterday.
So, with my kvetching out of the way, here are the pertinent race details:
- I finished.
- My final time was 2:01:43, well ahead of my seed time of 2:25, but just shy of my goal of 1:59:59.
- I wish they had splits for each mile, but they calculated an average mile pace of 9:17.
- My 10k time was about about 53 or 55 minutes.
- I finished above the median for my age group (30-34), but only barely.
- Complete results can be had at www.cmmarathon.com and looking up my number (11752) in the half-marathon results.
Now for some racing commentary:
- The time waiting to start the race was not dissimilar to the time spent behind the starting blocks at a swim meet when you're in one of the first events. Lots of standing around, pacing, dissipating nervous energy. Only with more clothes on and no goggles.
- The race used a wave start. This is a terrific idea, especially considering how crowded the race proved for the first 4 miles. I can only imagine what would've happened if they all started in one pack. The critical problem I think is that the course bottlenecked between markers 1 and 2 and stayed that way for, oh, the next 5 miles. Imagine letting out a U2 concert at Giants Stadium but forcing everyone through a turnstile.
- The congestion, coupled with my naively chosen seed time and surprise that you could skip ahead to a different starting corracl, meant that I probably ran 14 miles just from weaving in and out of race traffic.
- My sister and her baby camped out at my improv friend Ann's house, which is located on the race route on Music Row. She took some video footage, but looking through the camera while holding a baby doesn't make for effective identification (though it probably qualifies her to work security at an airport or perhaps the British consulate's office in NYc). So, she didn't notice I was going by, and only barely caught me on camera after I was about 3 steps past her. I hadn't bothered to yell out to her because it looked like she was shooting me already and, you know, I was running and afraid to waste oxygen.
- I expected more cell phone usage on the course, but I didn't see my first mid-race cell phone usage until the sixth mile. Apparently people like to call each other to find out where they are on the course. I only saw one other instance (about mile 10), so it wasn't too bad.
- I expected I'd start out fast, and I did, going roughly 7:30 to 8:00 for each of the first 2 miles before settling into the 9:30 neighborhood. I did a good job of picking people to pace off of, and for the first half of the race, I used pretty good judgment about abandoning folks to find somebody further ahead to pace off of who were closer to 9:00, which I would need to get under 2:00.
- The problem came around mile 8: I got a little over-confident and stepped up my pace to about 8:30 or 8:45 for the next two miles. I hadn't run any beyond 8 miles before, but my previous good judgment for the first 8 miles and my first hit of water at mile 7 deluded me into thinking I would be able to cruise the last four miles.
- Things were ok through 8, 9 and most of 10, but mile 10 turned out to be the longest damned mile of the race. As they readied us for the full/half course split, they ran us up a not too big hill but big enough in a short enough distance at that stage to cause me to take my first 20-30 second walk break.
- I think I might've been ok after that except I let myself get a little dejected when I saw that we were going to have to double-back through part of the route: instead of turning left onto James Robertson Pkwy, we had to turn right for a piece then U-turn back. It just violated my sense that you should always feel like you're moving forward. So, I walked another little piece, about 60 seconds this time. I had one more 60 second walk up a slight downtown hill toward the beginning of mile 12.
- The running experts say that unless you're one of the elite racers it's actually faster to plan to walk for some stretches because you end up running faster enough during the time that you run to offset the slow down that occurs by walking. It actually kind of makes sense based on my treadmilling: I can walk on the treadmill (if I hold onto the bars) at the pace that I practice at. Perhaps I should practice harder.
Well, that's all for now.