Monday, October 30, 2006

The "Middle Half" Race

Some people like to start slow and finish fast, yielding impressive-looking negative splits. These are second-half runners. Other people like to start fast and finish if they're lucky. These are first-half runners. Then there are runners like me that run nearly even splits for just about any race or run, whether we are trying to or not. We are middle-half runners, because we're running average pace when most people are running their slowest. I like to draw people in gradually over the race's long middle, or break away on a downhill when they try to use it to take a break. I like to nudge the pace faster as the halfway point approaches and the guys around me are hanging on for life.

What I don't like is hitting the 11-mile mark in a half-marathon and realizing, "If someone tries to pass me I couldn't even put up a challenge." Inconsistent tense and all. It's not a pretty realization.

My morning started at 5:08AM for the Big Sur Half. I had set my watch alarm for 5:00, but forgotten that my watch frequently resets itself to 12:00AM, Jan. 1 instead of sounding the alarm. I should probably get a new watch. Fortunately I got to bed early enough to only oversleep by eight minutes. I'd already laid out my stuff, so I ate half an energy bar, threw my sweats and water bottle in my sweats bag, and drove down to the starting area (parking garage entry was barred after 6). Hung out around the starting line for a while. Wanted a drink of water. Fished in my bag for the water bottle. Oh crap. I'd left the water bottle open and all its contents were now in my extra shirt. Fortunately it was a cool morning so I was wearing the rest of the sweats.

I ran the race pretty evenly; at the split-calling points they called elapsed time, pace and projected finish time. The fastest my overall pace got was 6:12 and the slowest 6:17 (I didn't keep individual mile splits because my watch has no wristband, and because it had been shunned). There were a few dudes that repeatedly passed me and then dropped behind me early, but I buried them over the middle. I know I buried them because of the two guys that passed me with about 4 miles to go (they were both definitely second-half runners) and the one guy that got me in the last mile, none of them were these guys. And I really must have put a lot of distance between myself and the next pack if only one guy caught me in the last two miles. I was really a dead duck at that point. Oh yeah, and I ran the last 20 meters or so backwards, and a photographer got a picture of that and asked for my name, but I didn't get in the slideshow on the Monterey newspaper's website.

Oh. man, were those last two miles painful. I have a bit of a "training wall", where I do lots of 10-11 mile runs but very few longer than that. That's something I should work on, because I really felt it in those last two miles. Also, do any of you know how do drink water/Gatorade while running? I grabbed a cup at a couple of the later stations and mostly just managed to get water/Gatorade all over my face and hat. They also had a Gu station and I tried that, thinking it wouldn't splash as much, and failed even more miserably. Any solution involving slowing down is completely unacceptable. I know that it probably would help my overall time to slow down for a couple steps and get some fuel at strategic points, but adrenaline won't let me do it.

So in the end, 1:22:25 and 41st place. A month ago I wanted to run 1:20, but my training fell apart a bit and I knew that was out of the question, so I'm happy with the result for now. And also, I don't know who it was that first had the idea of free beer at the end of distance races, but it is a good one.

Beautiful course, too. Gentle rolling hills, especially in the middle of the race, which was right along the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean. Except that the Pacific Ocean and its rocky shore don't exist.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

That's more like it! Being only two minutes off your goal after training falling apart is not so bad I think (well at least in my head, but that is the difference between me and someone fast!)