Running a race such as a half marathon is not unlike taking a test in school. Be it that I don't run these races to win (far from it), they still require some preparation and discipline. Some competitors spend months training for it. They follow a strict plan, run a set number of long miles per week, go on a regimented lifestyle, and participate in other races to get themselves prepared.
Not me, and not this time around. Just like some of the exams I used to take, I decided to wing it and, as expected, the result wasn't so rosy. Of course for people like me these races are not about competition. Just like a class that a barely passing grade would do, finishing the course is the ultimate goal. I ran my second half marathon on October 1st and it was an interesting experience. I did finish the race and I never stopped or down-shifted to a walk, but the experience was much more grueling than the one from the previous year.
I hadn't done much training for last year's half marathon either, but I was running longer distances prior to the race on the order of 10 to 12 miles, and I was running them much more frequently with more gusto. This time around the longest trek amounted to about 9 miles that I ran only once one week before the race. Yes, I was running a number of 5 or 6-mile routines, but I wasn't very consistent either.
The morning of the race I was feeling pretty okay. I had a couple of bananas and a few dates and headed for the meeting point. It was a chilly and rainy day and by the time we got on the course, it was obvious that we were going to face soggy day. And soggy, we encountered - a general rain condition punctuated by several periods of heavy downpours. Most runners welcome the dousing, but I'm not a fan of wet running, not that I had much choice in the matter.
Everything started out okay, but by the 7th mile I noticed that I'm feeling tired. I was constantly looking out for the mile markers and I had slowed down considerably, judging by the runners passing me by. I tried to get back in form and get my mind off the fatigue, but there was no fighting it. I wasn't in any pain, my body was simply out of energy and struggling to protect itself from stress and I had no choice but to heed. At several occasions I thought about slowing to a walk, but that would have amounted to a defeat, so I kept it going and kept looking out for the mile markers.
By the time I reached the 11th mile, I figured I might catch a second wind and ride it to the finish line. No such luck, the stress kept on hammering away and getting soaked by the downpours wasn't helping either. At this point I knew I was going to finish the race and that was the only thought that kept me moving, but the few last miles were passing just too slowly. By the 13th mile, I knew I was only a mere 1/10th of a mile away from the finish line, but even that tiny distance felt like an unending mile. And then it was all over. Looking back at the clock over the finish line, I was just relieved to have come in under 2 hours. Not a cause for celebration, but at that point I was happy it was done. I didn't beat my last year's time, but I came close and that was enough. Yeah, I barely passed. There's always the next year and another attempt to improve.
Here are my times from 2005 and 2006:
Year Place Age Age Group Time Pace
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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