After Sunday's United Space Alliance 10-miler, a race distance PR for me, I still find myself seeking the elusive perfect race, a race with ideal conditions, and one that will give me some indication that the full marathon in January is probable or even possible in under 6 hours. I had hoped this would be the one and that it would give me a little bit of confidence going into the Koala/Luke's Locker Half Marathon in two weeks, a race with a 2:48 minute time limit, which closes the course completely after 3 hours. Can you tell I'm worried?
On to the good stuff!!! I spent Saturday and Sunday at a beach house in Galveston, fishing with the kids and relaxing. I arrived at UH-Clear Lake to light showers and overcast skies. Whenever I arrive at a race, I get this excited, nervous feeling about me, kind of like when you've waited in line to get on a roller coaster and you're next. I walked over to the tents and started to mingle. Lot's of familiar faces. I was trying to relax a little and clear my mind but unfortunately, laughingly, I cleared all the important stuff out as well. I almost forgot that this is a chip timed race and came reall close to not even going over to get my chip. LOL!!! Then I realized I left my Garmin, searching for satellite signal on top of my truck. I hope the feeling and craziness of race day never goes away. I hope it never becomes mundane to me. This is too much fun!
Of course, On The Run put on a great event. The race was very well organized. The course was very flat and there were a half dozen PR's by Striders and bloggers, including an awesome 1:17:34 by Steve, a speedy 1:30:39 by Jessica, and a brilliant 1:25;13 by Joe C of the Bay Area, just to name a few outstanding performances. First timers, June and Bill delivered stellar performances with 1:55:36 and 1:35:23 respectively. WTG everybody!!!
Unfortunately, my Garmin splits are a mess. For some reason, the 1 mile autolap was WAY early on mile one so I hit the Lap button twice. Then I turned the autolap off but passed the 4 mile marker without hitting the button. I did this two more times so suffice it to say, it's all screwed up. I'm not even going to try to figure it out. When the official times are posted, I'll update with my 5 mile time, recorded by the chip. Beyond that, I'm not sure. On the Garmin thing, most people I talked to showed the distance as 10.07-10.09. That's only about 140 yards. I've been reading a little about the accuracy of GPS and how it can be off. Motion Based does some fancy calculations to try to correct for the shortcomings of GPS but it's just silly for me to worry about all that. No system is perfect other than measuring it with a tape measure but GPS is probably about as good as it gets.
I ran pretty strong the entire race. One issue faced by this first timer is how fast to go, how much to conserve, not wanting to bonk by the end. Well, I guess that's several issues. I wondered most of the race if I should pick up the pace or if by doing so, I wouldn't have enough in the tank to finish. So, steady it was. I held about 14:30 pace. I think a couple of early miles were around 14:15. At mile 7, I picked it up a little and finished with a 13:39 mile 10. Speaking of finishing, my good friends Bill and Jon came out around mile 9 to pace me and give me a bit of a boost into the finish. Appreciate it guys. It really helped me focus for that last mile. Then, coming around the last corner and looking down a little less than a quarter mile, I saw June and Cassie hootin' and hollerin' and got an even bigger boost. The Striders tent was positioned very close to the chute so I received a big welcome and much trash talking there after turning in my chip.
My finishing time was around 2:23:00. Probably the highlight of the race was coming across the bridge by Clear Lake and looking out over the water at the wall of rain coming toward me. There was no doubt that it was headed my way. In a way, it was refreshing when the bottom dropped out. It kind of washed the "tired" right off of me. But my shoes got just a little bit heavier and the puddles got deeper and for about a half a mile there, I was running in about 2 inches of running watter, with cars splashing water on me as they drove by. It sounds like a horrible time but frankly, I had a blast. It wasn't like a training run where you can just live to train another day. THIS WAS A RACE!!! So, knowing that, I just embraced the conditions and turned it into a fun time. I actually ran with my eyes closed, only opening them briefly every 5 or 10 seconds to make sure my course was true but trying to protect them from the stinging downpour. FUN!!!
On to the half!!!