Today was the Winter Racing Series Half Marathon, better known as the Striders Half Marathon. I was a bit nervous about this race, not necessarily about the actual running, but rather about what to wear. WHAT DO I WEAR?? That's what I was thinking all week, once it become clear that it would be snowy, windy, and about 30 degrees at the start. The thought and indecision was consuming me. Tights? No, too lame. Arm warmers? Maybe, but do they warm the arms enough? Heavy gloves or two pairs of light gloves? Garmin or sports watch? Underwear or no underwear? I DON'T KNOW! It's the little things that matter, and since I don't really train anymore, I try to focus on the trivial.
For the record it was cold, windy, and with flurries of snow at the busing area. Once we bused up to the start line, it was merely cold with no flurries, no wind anymore. I ended up wearing compression socks, racing shorts, underwear, a tech t-shirt with a singlet over it, arm warmers, a full stocking hat, a long-sleeve tech shirt over the singlet, a stylish Nike sports watch, and two pairs of thin gloves. And socks and shoes. It was a lovely array, and if I could do it all over again, I'd do it the same way.
The race started, and I quickly evaluated how I felt: toasty and warm. Yesss...the long-sleeve tech shirt was paying off. At Mile 3, I got too toasty, and shed the long-sleeve shirt, which was the plan from the beginning. Now I was sleeker, better ventilated, and looking like one bad dude with my arm sleeves and compressions socks (a nod to Steve Hooper for accessorizing me so well).
For the next several miles, there was still no wind, and I was very comfortable. Life was good. Then at Mile 6.5 or so, we turn out of the canyon and starting going around the reservoir. We picked up a little cross wind and headwind here, but it was not bad. My temperature was good, and I experienced a healthy mix of sweat and ventilation.
This continued until Mile 10, and it all crashed around me. The best laid plans of mice and men...
We got a nasty headwind, and it made me cold. Cold, I HATE cold. And I was hating running and hating life, mournfully recanting my decision to shed the shirt earlier. Why was this happening to me?? What bad deed did I do to deserve this?
And it only got worse. Soon my hands were numb, making splits from my stylish sports watch nearly impossible to get. I was miserable.
Finally, I got to the last turn, with 0.1 miles to go, and the headwind turned into a tailwind. That was sweet, heck ya. And I finished the race with a time of one-something.
After finishing the race, I grabbed some food, and then Cody, Jon, and I sat in my car with the engine idling and heat full-blast for about 30 minutes (I kid you not). We were all bummed about having to wait around after the race instead of going straight home, but I apparently my time won some sort of door prize or money or something, and I decided it was worth staying for, since I can more running clothes with that money.
After the awards, we helped push some cars out of the mud, and some old rich guy's Jag sprayed mud all over my pants and jacket. That was lame, but then I remembered that I had more clothes at home.
All in all, I would describe this race as "Ploptastic".
Running-related race report:
Alexander Tomas dusted everyone from the start, and he was plain gone. Ran with Steve Ashbaker and James Moore through 2 miles. Separated myself from everyone after that, and ran the rest of the race by my lonesome. At the turn at Mile 6.5, Alexander had 70 seconds on me, and I couldn't feel anyone close behind me. So the rest of the race was just making sure I didn't fall apart, and to secure my 2nd place.
My watch ran out of memory, but off of my own faulty memory, my mile splits were 5:21, 5:20, 5:20, 5:13, 5:20, 5:20, 5:31, 5:40, 5:45, 5:32, 6:00, 6:02, 6:00, 0:37 (0.1). As you can see, losing the downhill put on about 10 seconds/mile, the slight headwind from Miles 7-10 put on an additional 5-10 seconds/mile, and the severe headwind from Miles 10-13 put on about 20 seconds/mile beyond all that.
I was feeling great through Mile 7, and thought I had a really good chance for 1:11 or even a high 1:10. But the headwind quickly revealed my vulnerabilities and brought me to my knees (metaphorically, but almost physically too). I've noticed over the years that adverse conditions, such as hills, heat, or wind, will hurt a less-fit runner more than an extremely fit runner. Today, the wind really whipped me into submission, whereas Alexander broke the course record in spite of wind. I just kept telling myself that the people behind me were slowing down as much as me, and just to hold strong and finish the race.
Fortunately, I have 4 weeks to toughen up and get some good training in before Indianapolis. 5:20 pace felt quite comfortable while the wind was favorable, so I do have hopes for going under 1:10 in better weather, on a flat, sea-level course with good competition.
Today, I was happy with 2nd, as it was quite a bit higher than I thought I would finish. It was a bit humbling to get beat my 4 minutes and to have my own course record broken by 10 seconds, but life is requires constant humbling so I look at it as a blessing.