We’re in the meat of the distance running season, and while there’s a lot of excitement, things aren’t always going according to plan.
* Right here in the Sacramento area, a cyclist guiding the lead runners in the Urban Cow Half Marathon took a wrong turn within the first mile. About 1,400 runners ended up doing 13.74 miles.
* Organizers of the Revolution Marathon in Cairo didn’t bother with mundane tasks like, oh, blocking off traffic. Here are the participants running through a busy intersection on their way to the pyramids at Giza. (RED ALERT to Jill at JoggingJeans.com. Check out the dude slightly left of center in this photo.)
It’s amazing how well your races can go when you stop worrying about speed.
Yesterday was the Urban Cow Half Marathon, an event that has grown geometrically over the last few years. Last year I could only manage the 5k due to an injury, then had a heart attack four days later, so anything short of a lightning strike would be an improvement. I’m feeling great, but I did miss a week of running after a slight groin pull during the Buffalo Stampede three weeks ago, so I wasn’t sure how well I’d do.
The weather was terrific – cool if a little humid at the start. I lined up with the 2:15 pace group, though I was hoping to beat the 2:06:54 I ran in May.
Mile 1 – 10:00
Mile 2 – 9:51
Mile 3 – 9:33
Jeez, what a mob! I’m not used to seeing such a huge crowd of runners in little ol’ Sacramento. Nevertheless, I went out faster than I really wanted to. But my heart rate was hovering around 125 and I was having no issues whatsoever, so I kept going.
Mile 4 – 9:27
Mile 5 – 9:35
Mile 6 – 9:23
I settled down into a comfortable pace. Mile 5 had one of only two significant hills on the course. I came up on a guy during the uphill, trying to “pass with authority,” when he spotted me, turned, and took off like a rabbit. He kept looking back at me, but I wasn’t following him. I thought, “Either this guy is much better than the pace he’s running or he’s gonna deflate at the top of this hill.” It turned out to be the latter. I kept a steady pace to the top then passed him easily on the other side. I didn’t see his expression but I heard him exhale… forcefully.
Mile 7 – 9:20
Mile 8 – 9:12
Mile 9 – 9:14
The race had a neat feature you don’t see too often in half-marathons. Because there was a two-person relay associated with the half, there was a large arch at 6.55 miles with the elapsed time on top and a timing mat to cross. I hit the halfway mark at 1:03:15, which was about 3 1/2 minutes faster than last time. I picked up speed gradually as we ran along the levee next to the railroad tracks. Physically, I felt great though I have to admit I was starting to get a bit bored.
Mile 10 – 9:02
Mile 11 – 9:01
Mile 12 – 8:57
I wasn’t exactly flying at this point, but once again I was running my fastest miles at the end of the race. I started using Clif Shot Bloks a few months ago and found they help me a lot. I don’t particularly like chewing anything during a race, but I take one (33 calories) every two miles rather than squeezing a GU (100 calories) every six miles. It levels out my sugar levels so I don’t hit those highs and lows I used to. As usual, I carried a 24-oz. water bottle filled with tropical Gatorade and took a couple of swigs every other mile.
Mile 13 – 8:44
There was another big balloon arch with a half-mile to go that read, “Let’s mooooove it!” So I did. Passed quite a few people in that kick, though a lot of runners had the same idea and I crossed the finish line in a pack of about 10 folks.
Finish – 2:03:08. 1,144th out of 3,536. 79th of 147 in age group. Completed the second half of the race in 59:53, giving me a negative split of about 3 1/2 minutes.
The post-race spread was pretty good, with some delicious oatmeal cookies and chocolate milk, but I headed over to the beer garden for a tasty Marzen from Sudwerk. It was a “B” beer for a “B” performance.
Now it’s heavily into marathon training. I signed up for the Clarksburg Country Run on November 13 because it’s 20 miles three weeks before the marathon, a distance I was going to run on my own anyway. The following week I’ve got the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay. The only goal for both is to cover the distance and establish a marathon pace for the California International Marathon on December 4.