I MAY NEED A 12 STEP PROGRAM
Somedays I think that there needs to be a 12 step program for endurance race addiction. Today is one of them. Last weekend, my running partner (who didn't get into the Dipsea race while I did) suggested that we run the Marin County Half Marathon together this weekend. With nothing better to do, I said yes. Registered for Sunday's event on Thursday without previewing the course or, frankly, having a clue what I was getting myself into.
Fast forward to Saturday-- the day started out with a brisk 50 minute open water swim at Aquatic Park. Water was warmer than I thought it was going to be-- at least once I got over the initial shock of getting my face in the water and I had a nice, easy swim. I came out of the water; helped both of my kids change their wet, sandy clothes (they had played in the sand while I swam), and headed home.
My running partner (and neighbor) Michele was going to pick up my race packet for me. Or at least we thought. She got to McNear's beach and found that the race organizers would not let her pick up my number without my picture ID. So, after a brief lunch, the kids and I headed up to McNear's to pick up my number. Interestingly enough, no one asked for my ID at all when they gave me my number. . . . HMMMM. . .. Fortunately it was a nice day and the kids and I walked the fishing pier (Jack now wants to be a fisherman) and played down at the beach for a few hours before heading home.
Disaster struck early-- WHERE IS MY TANK TOP? For those of you that know my running (and racing) history. I have worn the same Worcester Academy (my high school) tank top in every race I've done since 1991. Seriously. . . over 20 marathons, countless 1/2 marathons, and more 10K's than I can remember. . . WHERE IS MY TANK TOP? I can't find it anywhere. . .
Sunday morning dawned early-- Grandpa Russell had spent the night to watch the kids in the morning (since Daddy is in Los Vegas playing poker) and I got myself dressed. . . Unhappily might I say since I STILL CAN'T FIND MY TANK TOP. I wore one of my Falmouth Road Race Tanks, but it just isn't the same as my 20 year old, turned grey from repeated washings, seams fraying tank top from 1990. Michele and I met up and we headed out to the beach. Arriving early, we debated what to wear for about 30 minutes before we finally left the car, and our cover-ups.
We were lead to the start line by a Scottish Bag Piper-- bringing back memories of both my college graduation and our early morning wake up call at 1/2 way to iron wildflower weekend. At the start line we waited and waited until finally the race could start-- what were we waiting for? The race organizers needed to plant a tree. Tree planted, we started at 8-- about 20 minutes later than we were supposed to start.
Michele took off like a start-- she doesn't participate in races often, and this was the longest distance she has done in a few years. . . I let her go. There was no way I was starting out 2 minutes faster than our usual pace--I've been around the rodeo a few times and know what happens to people who start out too fast to early. Out and back for a few miles on the road and then to some new territory.
HOW THE HELL LONG IS THIS RACE ANYWAY?
Heading up the hill into China Camp Park it was getting hot. . . we had a few miles of rolling hills before we were to transition onto trails. I was watching my Garmin pretty closely. I wanted to make sure I was on pace for the first 10K and then would see what happened. Well, at what my Garmin called the 6.2 mile split, I was right on track. Then we passed a volunteer who called out,
"Mile 5 right ahead--Looking Good." HUH? Mile 5? My GPS says 6.2 miles. OK.
Same thing happens at the 6 mile marker-- my watch reads 7 miles. Which one is right? Basically, I started to get stressed. . . OK, I got pretty stressed. How long is this race? Did I miss a turn? Why is my watch so far ahead? Are we going to run over 14 miles (instead of 13)? What is going on? I'd better slow down because I have no idea how long this race is going to be.
This panic stayed with me for the rest of the race. At the bottom of Hammer Hill (which was advertised to be at mile 11), the sign said mile 9. I hit the switchbacks on the trail, enjoyed the shade, and found myself enjoying the run. That being said, I had no idea how much longer I was going to be running. At the top of Hammer, we headed back out onto the roads. The volunteer standing there said that we had less than a 1/2 mile to go. At this point, however, I was afraid to believe her.
Turns out she was right. I was almost done. There probably wasn't more than a 1/2 mile to go. I made the turn into the beach and could see the finish line. At the end I saw my friend Michele-- she had finished 6 minutes ahead of me. . . and had hated every minute of it-- she was miserable-- hard run . . . wanted to stop at mile 6. I on the other hand had enjoyed my run. I hadn't gone very fast but I had finished and finished strong. I felt ready to take on the rest of the day and felt like I could probably have run another 10 miles easily (or at least run another 10 miles and still felt OK.)
So as stops on the road to Iron go, this run was good. I felt strong. I took my time and paced it out appropriately. I ran the entire run as a nice training run (even running the trail hills where there were long muddy stretches). My time wasn't stellar and since I can always find an excuse for that I mention the fact that I had no idea where in the race I was; we were on trails and going uphill through mud, oh, and I want to have enough energy to complete this week's workouts and my next race. That being said-- my time could have been a lot worse, and my first 10K was wonderful.
Next stop-- The Rock. Next Sunday is Escape From Alcatraz-- a race I did last year (and was terrified of before I did it). It is funny that I'm not scared of this race at all this year. . . At least I'm not scared of it yet-- maybe by next Sunday I will be afraid to jump off the boat, but right now I'm looking forward to it.
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