Sunday, March 01, 2015

Seaside Half Marathon - 2015

Actually slept last night. Despite the foreign bed. Despite the pending race. We finished dinner, turned in early, and embraced the resulting silence. Which helped when the alarm started at five o'clock. Then the usual silence as everyone performed their pre-race rituals. Mine included: coffee, vitamins, KT tape, plenty of stretching, and the internal struggle over What To Wear. By six thirty, we were all ready and prepared to walk a block (ha!) to the starting line where 3,997 other racers were huddled in the grey air.


Found several people from The MS Gulf Coast wandering the crowd. IPA folks. Triathlon folks. And all our various handlers. Seeing so many familiar faces among the smiling racers helped take off the edge. The cold was a bit crispy, but everyone was in good spirits. Surprisingly quiet, well mannered. And eager to get started. Somehow, Allison & Nancy vanished, then Robin (fellow Ticking Tri Bomb) ended up next to me. Quick hug. Some chatter about pacing. And when the clock struck seven o'clock, the race gun sounded.

My plan to was to start close to the front, maintain a quickish pace at first, settle into something comfortable once the crowd thinned, and then cruise on the way back. That was the plan. Early into it, we went too fast, closer to minutes than nine. By the time the crowd thinned, nine minute miles were the norm. However my memory of a somewhat flat course was corrected around three miles into it when the rolling hills appeared. Nothing difficult, but they did not help. Nor did the slanting rise in the road at each curve. At the half way point, my watch showed my pace was BELOW the two hour point. Very happy! Much awesomeness. Made the turn, grabbed a gel, and prepared for the return trip.
Return trip did not go very well. By mile eight, my left knee (the one that died last year) began to protest. By nine miles it started to hurt to the point where keeping any reasonable pace was going to damage something. Barely beat my 10 mile pace from last week, but crept after that. Wanted to pick it up more and get it over with. Felt this gnawing desire to "push through the pain." But in the back of my head, ghosts of failed races from 2014 started to resurface.

Ended up slowing enough for Nancy to catch me. She was hurting, too. Her calf. My knee. Partners in pain. We finished the last two miles in shared suffering. Every couple of hundred meters one of us would say, "Almost there." Then we could see the finish line. Then the crowd was cheering. We held hands and raised them high as we crossed the line. Done at last. Her 25th half marathon. (Not sure of mine.) Both of us eager to get this one behind us. Didn't break two hours. Didn't PR. But finished in 2:19:50, which beat last year's time.

Things blurred after that. Drank a 30oz mimosa that didn't touch me. Allison finished her very FIRST marathon and gave us all a tear-filled hug. Returned to the rental house to get some more layers. Which didn't ultimately help. Had a free beer that wasn't great but went down quickly. BBQ was slightly better than last year. And ended up browsing the local stores rather than crash from the uncontrollable shaking that gradually threatened to overcome me.

Eventually, we all recovered our legs, shuffled back to the rental for some real beers, a shower, and a change of clothes. When we had caught our breath and made ourselves presentable, we went BACK out for Lunch #2. Chili dogs from Wild Bill's and a few more beers. Finally, felt warm and right and happy. And the world was beautiful once again.

Anyway. Another half marathon in the books. Not the prettiest. But it is done. And on to the next adventure...
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