Official time: 01:48.38
My half-marathon split last year in New York was 2:00.17. And I took the first half much faster than the second half, I added fifteen minutes getting to the finish. So the big question was whether I could break two hours this time out. If yesterday was any indication, it wasn't going to happen.
I must have spent over four hours in my car yesterday, from home to Shaker Square, then to the offices downtown, to the rehearsal space, out to the far West Side, back to the rehearsal space, to dinner with the wife, out to Akron to pick up registration materials and back home again.
I do not like driving Akron after dark. I can't get the hang of the one-way streets in broad daylight.
At night the kids were wired, full of anticipation of the following day's activities, and the wife was also truly wrung out and exhausted. How could we put everyone down for the night, prepare for a day on the road including assmelbing all the necessary race clothes and materials?
The only solution was none at all. I put them to bed, and slogged through, cleaning up, making sandwiches, laying out my gear, pinning on my bib number, double-checking everything. There would be no time to do any of that in the morning, and I was already planning to wake at 4:30. I went to bed at 11:30. Five hours of sleep before a Half Marathon.
Of course, I was up checking the clock every hour, then every half-hour. Rolled out a little after four. Got my wife and the kids in the car by five-fifteen, and she drove me to the starting line by a little after six. I'd made it. Now all I had to do was run.
After a day spent in a car, the idea of two hours of exercise out of doors sounded like bliss, no matter what shape I was in, though I had to admit I felt pretty good. I'd had coffee, an energy bar, a sunbutter sandwich and mixed my first batch of Accerlerade.
Wow, that stuff tastes like ass.
At the tent I also had a banana, some Gu, water and Powerade. I was full of running product. Two trips to the port-o-johns (remembering to force myself to exonerate my bowels, which I was in no mood to do) and dropped my bag with the FedEx people, forgetting to keep my lip balm with me or apply and body glide. Luckily, I did not come to regret lacking either.
I won't say the run was easy, but it was a breeze compared to a full marathon (or as one announcement put it, the "real" marathon, which was kind of a pisser.) In the attempt to make two hours, I did a quick calculation an decided to start with the 8:24/mile pace team. This was also the 3:40 Marathon pace team, so I figured if I could keep that sign in my sights, I would make the run in 1:50.
Much to my own surprise, I not only kept the sign in my sights, I kept it right in front of me almost the entire way.
At mile 4 the race went past the photo lab where I broke my heel in April, 2005. That was a marvellous surprise, and a delightful vindication.
At a water stop at mile 5 I was frightened by a blonde woman in a pink top who began running the other way at the end of the water line screaming "Oh my God! I missed all of them!!!"
There were two marching bands at high schools, a steel drum band on steps at U of A, and a live blues band in someone's front yard. All of them were playing songs like Everything's Gonna Be Alright and Low Rider and others with strong drug associations. Where are the Techno marathons?
At mile 6.6 I grabbed one too many Gus, but I still have the one I didn't consume, I tucked it in my waste band. God, are those vile ... but extremely effective. By mile 9 I needed to pass a drink station (I had been alternating, water, Powerade, water, Powerade ...) because I finally began to feel a little bloated and like I actually needed to sweat a little more. That, and I was beginning to need to pee.
At mile 11 the "real" marathon and the Half Marathon split. There were far more of them, and we were sent in a much spottier line down the highway. I shared with some of my fellow travelers the fear that this was a big joke, and they were just sending us losers down the highway with no real finish anywhere.
Keeping my own pace, without a "pace leader" was not as difficult as I'd feared, and as we turned into Canal Park Stadium, I actually sprinted, passing several people. The clock at the finish had passed 1:49 (not my time, it took a minute for me to reach the start - chip technology is really super) and I really didn't want to go longer than 1:50. So I didn't.
There's more ... the girl ran the Kids 1K which started, or was supposed to start, at 9 am. I not only made the run, which they did not expect, but it took over a half-hour for the kids run to commence. I can carp more about that later. The good, great news is I got a PERSONAL BEST, my feet are in excellent shape, no blisters, no bleeding (anywhere) and, well, hey. What's next?