March 13, 2005

First official half-marathon!

I just got home from running my first qualifying half-marathon. It was a beautiful day in Central Park for a run. I wished my body knew that. I spent the run in more distress than last weekend's 14 miler. Part of that is the conditions of the race -- its hard not to get anxious when there's a time limit; but part of that was just -- an off day. Didn't have the energy I wanted; lungs still not up to speed. My right foot still complaining, at times loudly.

Lots of positive things though. My first six miles was fairly standard, even though after two miles, I got too warm. I ran most of the race with my hoodie tied around my waist -- does anything else scream "beginner" more than a hoodie tied around one's waist? Maybe the fuel belt. Anyway, the first lap -- OK. Didn't walk on the uphills. The route was clockwise, so this was my first time doing the Central Park loop backwards; it was interesting. The two major uphills were pretty killer, but no worse than Prospect Park's major uphill.

The last seven miles got much harder, to the point (in miles 8 and 9) that I thought I'd end up finishing this walking. Fortunately, I finished jogging, though very very slowly.

I was pleased to note that I did not get lapped by the leaders until mile 6 and even at mile 7 (where the finish line was set up), I'd still only been lapped by seven runners, though when you do get lapped by people running five and six minute miles, you feel the breeze!

As usual, we at the back of the pack quickly began to recognize each other and there's a sort of comraderie built up after several miles -- a little competitiveness, too, I suppose, but mostly comraderie. And real concern for each other. I must have sounded like hell to the others the last six miles. With all of us doing bouts of walking, we kept passing each other. (I did get a grin out of one older gentleman who at mile seven finally passed me and commented, "I've spent the last four miles trying to catch up to you!" He wound up finishing one or two minutes ahead of me and was never out of my sight.)

One of the guys who was quite conspicuous was an old Asian gentlemen, whom I recognized from the last couple of ING Marathons. He carries short strings of sleighbells so he jingles as he runs. Turns out, he runs only slightly faster than I, but takes sit-down breaks periodically -- so we were pretty even most of the race. I asked him at mile 9 if he was alright, he said he was. He nearly caught up to me by the end, too. I actually waited for him after crossing the finish line so I could shake his hand. I'm considering the Coney Island 1/2-marathon next Saturday and he said he's going to be there.

Other people can definitely affect my mood while I'm out there. For a good four miles, there was this group of three women and one guy (the women weren't officially in the race) jogging together. I could hear snatches of their constant conversation, which became clear and LOUD the moment I passed them. One woman just would NOT shut up! I mean, she's running for christsake and I swear she never inhaled. Just blah blah blah blah blah on and on. Fortunately, I didn't have to listen to that for long.

So. though I walked quite a bit in the last five miles, I finished the race running. A couple weeks ago, I mailed in my ING Marathon entry for possible lottery selection. One of the questions is about how fast I've run the marathon or half-marathon. I had only done 12 miles in Central Park at that point, but based on that time and allowing for this and that, I guessed for a half-marathon -- 2 1/2 hours maybe. I looked up at the timer as I crossed the finish line and -- subtracting the 30 seconds at the start of the race before I crossed the starting line -- it was 2 1/2 hours precisely. Spooky!

Here are my official race results:

I am now going to take a long hot shower, then go back into town to pick up some medications and see if I can't find a bicycle shop that's open.

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