Monday, February 13, 2012

Ralston Creek Half

When I got out of bed in the morning, the National Weather Service website claimed that it was 9 degrees.  The race would not start for a few hours, but my nerves were already working overtime.  I rarely run outdoors below 32 degrees.  I am quite content on the treadmill.  Unfortunately about 2 weeks earlier, I decided to pull the trigger and enter an early season half marathon.

I was not and am not well conditioned for a 13.1 mile event.  My last long run was a month ago and was only 6.8 miles.  To feel ready, I would have liked to have logged a couple of 10 mile runs.  However, I naively assumed that I could treat 13.1 as a 10 mile training run and just coast in the last 3 miles.

The weather complicated things not only for my lungs, but also for course support.  Water bottles had ice floating in them, the energy drinks were extremely cold, and even the consistency of the energy gels more closely resembled caramel than gel.  As usual the volunteers and course marshals were great and kept me in good spirits.

I started to feel like I had over-reached a bit at mile 5.  I was desperately seeking the turnaround while accepting that I had 8 miles to go and no logical bail-out point.  If it were a 2 loop course, I would have taken the DNF at the 6 mile mark.  The toughest stretch was around miles 6 and 7 where I could get a view of the race ahead and competitors walking a climb that included multiple switchbacks.  I don’t mind walking, but seeing racers ahead of me succumbing to the elevation gain, made me realize what a tough spot I was in.

My legs started to tighten up around the 11 mile mark.  I got a bit of a boost as I started to catch some of the slower runners in the first wave that got a 45 minute head start.  Knowing that those competitors would be on the course over 3 hours, forced me to toughen up as my 2.5 hour goal time was still in reach.

I walk-ran the last couple of miles and cruised in at 2:31:41.  Which placed me 353/421 starters, 181/193 among men, and 32/35 among men 40-44 years old.  I was satisfied with my time, but did not expect to be in the bottom 10% of the field.  However, considering the athletes lining up for a half marathon in February in 23 degree weather, I felt a lot better about my race.

Thanks to SkiPix for race photo support.

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