This was my third annual half marathon race in a row in my hometown of Ridgefield, CT, and by far the worse performance of the three. Just like last year, I hadn't done much to prepare for this event, short of sending in my registration fee. I am an avid jogger, rarely, if ever, missing my every-other-day jogging habit. My regular distance is about 4 to 5 miles. On weekends I might push that to 6 or 7 miles. The only time, as of recent, I went farther than that was the Sunday prior to the race when I covered a 10-mile distance.
Still, there is a big difference between casual jogging and a long-distance race, specially one that covers 13.1 miles and where speed matters. I had thought that I might have a chance of breaking my personal time from 2 years ago, but that goal proved to be elusive this past Sunday.
I had a good rest the night before the race and, as this was my third race, I wasn't feeling much anxiety. I arrived at the starting point with just enough time to pick up my number and soon the race got on the way at 8:30. The first few miles were pretty typical for me. I'm not a morning person, let alone a morning runner, so it took some time for me to get comfortable and find my pace. I don't know about other runners, but for me it takes a few minutes for my body to warm up and then everything kicks into automatic. But around the 4th mile I started to feel some fatigue and had to downshift. A runner had collapsed on the side of the road and people were tending to him so I continued on. Soon I was hearing the commotion of sirens in the background; obviously the medics were on their way. There were still some 9 miles to cover.
Things were going okay but with every passing mile I could feel the fatigue growing. Finally around the 9th mile I had to slow down to a fast walk. Going into a walking pace is something I always dread, but I also realize that ignoring the body's signals could have devastating effects, least of which would be failing to complete the course. After about a 1/4 of a mile and downing some water at one of the water stations, I was back in jogging pace, only to revert to a walk again at around the 11th mile. Another 1/4 mile down the road and with the finish line within reach, I picked up the pace and finally crossed the line at 2:02:32. A devastating blow, having breached the 2-hour time, but nevertheless I had finished my third half marathon race.
As I guzzled down cold spring water and chewed on an apple at the end of the race I contemplated what I had done wrong. I could blame the weather, my old shoes, my age, or other factors, but in the end I knew it was my own lack of preparation that lead to the poor performance. Will I be better prepared for the next year's race? I don't know but, disappointed as I am, I know there's no sense in dwelling on this. The silver lining for me is that there will be no formidable personal time for me to shatter next year.
I'll be remiss if I didn't mention the great job the race organizers, Wolfpit Running Club, the volunteers, the police, and the sponsors did in this event. They have delivered superbly every time. And for the real good news, word has it that the runner who collapsed during the race was doing okay.
Here are my personal times for each year:
Year Place Age Age Group Time Pace
---- ----- --- --------- ---- ----
2005 286 38 50 M 30-39 1:54:05 8:43/M
2006 287 39 66 M 30-39 1:55:52 8:51/M
2007 299 40 87 M 40-49 2:02:32 9:21/M