Rock & Roll Half Marathon - Redux
Bottom line was we all agreed to do it the right way next year, with a 2 night reservation for hotel on the beach within walking distance of the concerts and within warmup distance of the starting line where [the kids] can watch cable tv while we race and we don't have to worry about hotel security as we try to cop a few z's on their well manicured shady lawns. We'll bring the rest of the family and hopefully some other folks as well, and keep talking about how it was more fun the first time around.
Indeed we did it the right way this year. On Friday the family plus Kevin (aka the original British gecko and practically family by now) drove south through the lashing winds and driving rain of Tropical Storm Ernesto, and pulled into
Kevin and I got up at the crack of 5am. Stepping out onto the balcony, the weather was cool but the stars were shining bright. Not promising weather conditions. A group of cheerleaders, noisy and giggling in the false dawn, got to the boardwalk as we left for the start. We wondered if they realized that the first runners would not get to that point for another two and a half hours. The walk to the start was about a mile and a half. Last year, when we stayed in
The gun went off and I followed my plan and started relaxed. No maneuvering around runners who had no business being that far up front, or trying to keep up with folks I knew would pull ahead of me anyway. Mile one went by in 6 flat and instead of fretting I smiled. Mile 2 took us up the bridge over the Rudee Inlet (one of two “uphills”) and passed in 5:52. I still felt fresh and picked up the pace a bit. The nice thing about this tactic is that it let me steadily reel in people ahead of me. Mile 3 passed in 5:45; already 23 seconds ahead of last year’s split at this point. I kept overtaking runners ahead of me, hoping to find folks I could work with but ultimately continuing the move ahead. The miles stretched along shady roads south of VB and through a military camp. Miles 4 and 5 were a bit uneven but more or less on what I wanted – 5:50 & 5:42 – and after the latter split I thought this is the pace to hold. Having said that, mile 6 slowed to 5:54. The highlight of mile 7 was that I came within range of a grey haired guy ahead of me and locked in on the target. I blew by him and the mile passed in 5:43. Mile 8 took us back to the top of the Rudee Inlet bridge (5:49) and back down into VB. The remaining miles would go up
Its usually disappointing to cross the finish a few seconds after a new minute turns, but I could not have kicked any harder even had I known how close I was. After the finish I stopped my watch, grabbed onto my knees and sucked air, grabbed water, and congratulated the guys I ran with. I took a gulp of water and got sick to my stomach, a feeling that lingers even as I write this. And then I realized how drenched in sweat I was. Drenched like I came out of the ocean. It felt as hot as I remembered it last year. I lurked around the finish waiting for Kevin, who had a bad day and finished in about 1:30. Chris finished just ahead of him, and I also chatted briefly with Lee Cox, a VF Striders guy against whom I have dueled a few times in local races and who wisely ran (i.e., not raced) today. After Kevin came by we got food (mistake), gear bag, and Spenco sandals (nice), and unceremoniously walked the half-mile back to the hotel along
AddendumRicky Bobby: “You’re either first, or you’re last. You taught me that [Dad]. I lived my whole life by that.”
Ricky's Dad: “Why that don’t even make no sense boy. I was high when I said that. You can be second, third, fourth. . .hell you can even come in fifth.”
Its now Sunday evening. Back from dinner at an Irish pub (my stomach has finally settled) and seeing Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (better than I expected) and the tail end of WAR (wish I had seen more).
The results are now up and my 1:16:07 is official. This time is good enough for 56th place overall (out of 16,000 finishers) and 3rd masters place. Unfortunately only the top masters finisher, with a 1:14 time, got cash so I will settle for some age group trinket that will get sent to me someday. Still, the race is big enough where this is a good accomplishment. I’m also satisfied in that, both time and placewise, I did everything I set out to do and for once I stuck to a pre-race strategy (see previous blog entry) that was something other than start out fast and hang on to the finish. My final 5 km time, at 18:06, was a little faster than my initial 5k, at 18:12. No one ahead of me had a slower 5k time, and I counted 14 runners who finished behind me with faster 5k splits (meaning I passed them at some point after 5k).
Today also marks a big improvement over last year’s finish, which was 1:19:41.
Checking Weather Underground the temps at 8:15 were in mid 70s and only 2 degrees “cooler” than last year’s race.
Enough geeking; time for bed.