Saturday, January 26, 2013

Long Beach Half Marathon - 2013

Late January and yet the temperature approachs 70 degrees in South Mississipi! Beautiful day for a half marathon. Truth be told, I did it mainly to get a finisher's medal. My first and a big enticement. Stoke my fragile confidence. So I woke up early, hit the road, braved the gnats, stretched, and joined the fray.

Longest distance I've done in probably six weeks. (Only my second half marathon!) From Long Beach harbor, to Pass Christian. And back again. 13.1 miles along the beach. One whole side of  HW90 closed for racers. Flat, breezy, and water stations roughly every 1.5m, I was pretty confident I'd be able to finish without puking, crying, dying, or all of the above.

My plan was to start at an easy pace (ran too fast, too early last time) and maintain it between each water station. Then slow down at each check out, grab a drink, and pop a Gu every other station (ie: every 5K.) If it worked, I was hoping to finish in 2hrs and 15min. (My previous race was 2hrs and 19min.)

Gun sounded and the crowd ambled up to speed. Almost immediately I spotted my co-triathlete, Lisa McCombs and fell into place behind her. She was pacing with one of her students (Keith.) And for the first  half of the race, our plans synced together perfectly. At the turn around, we were averaging just over 9 minutes per mile, and had slowed to walks at two of the stops. About 6.55 miles of music and breeze and lots of asphalt passing under our feet.

We approached magic mile #9 and my brain started to get scaly. Our old friend The Lizard was rattling his cage, trying to get free. So he could tap dance on my brain and convince me to stop. But (THANK GOD!) I had a great support crew sending me Pep Talks through Endomondo. And right on time, they started cheering me up. Their words of encouragement helped push me through my mental barriers and (amazingly!) I was able to maintain my focus almost the entire time.

Only a couple of notable occurrences otherwise:

  • Around mile 11, I was  overheating. First time EVER, I took off my shirt and ran topless. During the day. In public. Not sure how many women and small children I scared, but it was a huge relief. Unfortunately I forgot I was wearing earbuds. COMPLETELY tangled myself and brought my pace to a grinding halt. By the time I recovered and geared back up to speed, I'd slowed to a 12min mile. 
  • Toward the end, the last quarter mile, either the racers ahead of me were slowing, or I was picking it up. I passed three or four folks in the last few minutes. THAT felt awesome.
  • I got beat by a dog! He (and his owner) went the full distance and pulled away from me shortly before the turn around. And I didn't see them again until the end. Pooch was limping a little. But I eyed his pads and they were actually intact. So he beat me AND he was still in good shape. Good job, Scooby.
  • As I'm leaving, I look down and notice blood on my ankle. Didn't feel it, but the friction from my sock or compression sleeve or shoe had rubbed a spot raw. Raw enough to bleed. Better than rubbing my nipples off, but still a surprise. 
In the end, I finished right at 2hrs and 10 mins. Below my goal and I averaged 10min/mile. Personal record for the finishing time. Personal record for the pace. And I got my medal. Great way to start the day.

And another notch on Ye Ol' Geek's belt. Next up? Hopefully the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in NOLA next month. To make up for my horrible failure last year. HOPEFULLY!
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