2009 Little Rock Half Marathon
Where do I begin?
Well, it turned out like I expected. No, I didn’t have my best half marathon time. I had my worst. 2:27:54 to be exact. Let me paint the picture for ya.
I didn’t want to get my stuff ready for the race. I eventually did, but it was a struggle. I checked the weather and it said that the temps for race time wouldn’t get past 46F. So, I decide to pin my bib number and “Half” designation on my long sleeve running shirt. I get everything else set up so that all I have to do is wake up and get dressed. I even had most of everything in my truck ready to go.
Had to take nighttime medicine to help me sleep because I’m still sick. Woke up, showered and ate a bowl of oatmeal. Looked at the weather one last time. The current temperature in Little Rock was 49F. So much for not getting into the 50’s during the race. This gets me re-thinking my entire race wardrobe. (Not in a fashion sense, but in a functional sense.) Left the house around 6:10 am. Still not feeling it for this race. Got to Little Rock shortly after 7 am and got a parking spot. Got out of the truck and decide to ditch the pants and long sleeve shirt and run in shorts and a technical T-shirt. So much for putting my bib number and “Half” designation on my shirt last night. Also, I’ve been using Vick’s ointment for the past 2 days to try to get my cough under control. You know, the medicine that you rub on your chest. Well, before I leave my truck, I have slathered it on my upper lip, in my mustache, and anywhere else on my face I think might help.
I finally get everything situated and head to the starting line. Starting to feel kinda lonely. Don’t know anyone there. I started in corral “D,” which is where all of the casual runners start. Every once and a while, people turn around and do that “smell the air” thing like they are trying to determine the source of some weird smell. I think the Vick’s is so strong, it’s not only keeping my coughing under control, but helping the others around me. So to throw everyone else off, I start smelling the air and looking around, too, in a way that tells everyone, “Yeah, I smell it, too. What is that?” It worked.
Well the starting gun fires (I think. I was so far back I couldn’t hear it.) and we’re all off. You can tell the first timers. They’re all giddy and ready to run, run, run. I can always tell who they are because, mentally, I have them pinned to the ground and am punching them until they realize that this is going to be how they feel in about 2 hours. It’s cute really.
Fast forward about 1 hour and 20 minutes. I’m coming up on mile 8 and to my surprise, feel pretty good. I look at my watch and start to calculate the time and what it would take at my current pace to beat/tie last year’s time. At this point, I’m right at 10:30 minute mile pace. If I keep it up, I’ll beat my time. I start to day dream that my wife, daughter and some friends of mine were going to surprise me somewhere throughout the course to give me that extra pep I needed to finish strong. I start to think that I have a chance. Turns out, I was getting high on the Vick’s.
Then, I turn the corner and hit the 9 mile marker. It’s a steady uphill climb for about .75 miles. By the time I got to the top, speed walkers were passing me. Yeah, that’s right. My run wasn’t fast enough for people walking really fast. Talk about embarrassing. I finally level out around the 10 mile marker and realize that I now 1) can’t stop running and 2) have to run 10 minute miles to tie last year’s time. (It’s amazing how good I am at math when I’m running.) I also realize that the .75 uphill run depleted what energy I had in reserve. And considering that I was sick and started out with less energy in reserve, I don’t stand a chance.
By the time I get to mile marker 12, I look at my watch and realize that I have to run the last mile in 5 minutes to tie last year. It was at that point that I gave it up. I started walking for a few minutes. I was completely spent. I barely had enough energy to start running again when it turned into downhill. Finishing the last half mile took all I could muster. I kept looking around for a familiar face. None in sight. I crossed the finish line and heard the announcer say, “Great job, half marathoners! You managed to finish under 2 and a half hours!” For some reason, I wasn’t excited to have just finished “under 2 and a half hours.” When I race, I only race to compete against myself. There’s no way I’m going to win one of these races, so I race to beat my previous time. So, my races have 2 places: first and last. Oh crap. I just realized that I’ve just summed up my racing philosophy to resemble that of Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights; “If you’re not first, you’re last!” Now I feel even worse.
So, I finished and got my medal. They also were handing out those mylar blankets. I almost passed them up. I was thinking, “Why would I want one of those? I’m hot.” Turns out, I’m glad I got one because I would have frozen on the long walk back to my truck. Or I should say, “the long limp back to my truck.”
I learned a lot yesterday.
All of the above 3 combined to create the Perfect Storm of Sucky Running.
Now I have to go train for my next race.
*Sniff* *Sniff* Yeah, I know. What is that smell?