So, I accomplished all of my goals for the half marathon today. Well, the jury's still out on permanent injury. My knees hurt at the moment, I probably need to schedule a session with a sports medicine specialist. I stuck to my plan for the most part, except that I stopped for a restroom break at mile 8. Also, I started picking my pace up at the end at mile 12.3 instead of mile 12. My chip time was 2:08:54, well under my official goal, but a little slower than I really wanted. If I hadn't stopped for 2 minutes, I would have been right where I was hoping to be.
I didn't wind up sleeping well last night. I woke up every hour or two, finally getting up at 4:15. I left the house at 5:30, but it took a while to park there were so many cars coming in. I dropped off a bag with pants and a change of shirt, and decided I should empty out some of the water I had been drinking. The port-o-potties were chaos, there were hundreds of people waiting in lines that were going left and right. I was still in line when the starting "gun" went off at 6:45. I thought about ditching the line and finding a bush, but it seemed wrong and I had already waited so long. When I got to the starting line, the 2:10 pace group still hadn't crossed, so I didn't feel like I was too late. However, probably because it was so overcast, it took a while for my GPS watch to lock onto the satellites, so I waited until it did before crossing the timing pad. At that point the pace runners were way ahead of me, so I had to play catch up, dodging scores of slower runners. My first four miles with the pace runners were 9:34 (catching up), 9:54, 10:01, and 9:26 (a noticeably downhill mile). Now, my strategy was mainly based on the elevation profile on the map, which when compressed as it was, made the changes look much more dramatic. The reality was that other than a few sections (mainly overpasses and the like), the change in elevation wasn't really noticeable to me.
At mile 4, I broke away from the pace group (not that it was a clear group other than the two pace runners with banners), and my next four mile times were 8:46, 9:17, 9:09, and 11:56 (including the rest break). Not particularly consistent, but in the range I was looking to run. My knees had just begun to bother me on mile 7, and stopping caused them to stiffen up. It took most of mile 9 for my knees to loosen up again, but even when they did I stuck with a roughly 10 minute pace until mile 13. At 12.3 I started to pick up my pace, first by lengthening my stride, then increasing my cadence. I felt like I was running on fumes down the final stretch, and was pretty much willing the finish line to come to me. I would have liked to have gone faster, but the last .18 mile (by my watch) was only at a 9:10 pace.
The 2:10 pace runners crossed right ahead of me, obviously they passed me when I stopped. Right after the finish line, I ran into several of the many co-workers who also ran the race. The first few minutes after finishing, I felt awful, more or less. My knees stiffened up almost immediately and I could barely walk. I had a bit of a stomach cramp from the middle of mile 11 all the way to the finish, so I wasn't feeling that well in that department. But, after gatorade and water and stretching started going to work, I came back around to the land of the living. After milling around and eating a little of everything available (cookies, breakfast tacos, fruit), I rode the bus back to the start area to get my car and head home.
The thing most people complained about on this race was the weather. Since I had never run this distance, it was not my top concern, but the conditions were certainly less than ideal. The temperature was about 60 degrees, and it was very humid. Most of the streets were wet, but if it rained during the race at all, I never consciously felt it. The one item out of the goody bag I decided to bring with me, a "shammy," turned out to be a big help mopping up the seemingly vast quantities of sweat on my face. If I could have picked the weather, I would have chosen 45 degrees and sunny, which were the conditions I had on some of my best training runs. It is what it is, and it's one more thing I can cross off of my "bucket list."