Monday, January 26, 2015

3M Half Marathon Race Report

If the 2015 3M Half Marathon went poorly for me, I really only have myself to blame. Arriving super late, just before the start (and being in the port-o-potty line when the gun went off) was obviously my fault, as I somehow got it in my head that the start time was 7:30 and only realized at 6:15 that it was actually 7am. I certainly can't blame anyone else for my lack of training that led to a slow time and sore legs; this race was only my fifth run of 2015, and was twice as long as the next longest. I could attempt to blame lousy weather and allergies for the lack of running, but that's just an excuse. Plenty of other people were out running in the same cold rain and with the same cedar fever. I'm not sure I could have fully prevented the horrible blistering I got on my left foot, but I could have taken steps to mitigate it. If I had been properly prepared, it would have been a good day for a good race- the weather was mid-forties, sunny, with mostly favorable winds. As it was my 2:03:43 just barely cleared my lowest performance benchmark- quicker than my best run in a Half Ironman (a 2:05 at Galveston 2014). I finished in 2493rd place, which means I probably passed 3000 people since I started almost at the back of the 5485 recorded finishers. If you add up the number I passed miles 0-4 and mile 13 and don't subtract the number that passed me miles 4-12 it could be substantially higher.

I clearly hadn't studied the online materials going into this race, I figured I'd done it four times already I knew the drill. I was late for something else when I got my packet Saturday, so went through at maximum speed and didn't look over any of the posted information. It was only as I was getting ready that I thought to check the event email and discovered that I was running terribly late. I rushed out the door, drove to the venue at maximum speed, and parked in the first spot I saw, on the fourth floor of a garage. I would have gone straight to the start line, but my guts insisted otherwise. I was not-so-patiently waiting in line for the port-o-potty while the national anthem played, and then the starting gun went off. When I was finally done I ran over to the start corral and crossed the line on the thin tail of the massive snake of thousands of runners.
I have no idea what possessed me to start at an 8-minute pace (or the pace I did last year when I was better trained and 10 pounds lighter). It's probably just that I felt energized racing past so many people going 10+-minute pace, and paid no heed to what might be sustainable for 13 miles. By the time I was almost to mile 4 and had caught up more with people going my speed, I was about exhausted. I walked a water station and started back a little slower. A little past the 5 mile mark I stopped for a stretch as my legs were starting to get sore. Mile 7 was reasonably steady but at 9:15 pace. I walked another water station on mile 8. Mile 9 I took a longer stretch break. I could feel my left foot was blistering up by this point and it made pushing on tough mentally, because it was painful. I had a hard time getting going again after walking aid stations at the 10- and 11-mile marks. I was almost ready to bag it and walk the rest of the way around 11.5, but the road went downhill and I figured I'd at least let gravity lend a hand. When it flattened out the 12-mile sign came up and I decided to hell with the pain and to push hard for the last mile. I "lit the match" about 400 meters too soon, because once I made the final turn toward the finish line I didn't have the energy for a last-second sprint.
I received my medal, water, and banana, and headed as straight as my pained legs and feet would allow to the buses back to the start. I hobbled back to my car and headed for home. That evening was my race team's party; I sat as much as I could manage.

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