Update (10/3/2008): The official race results were posted yesterday. Even more surprising is the time below of 1:58:30 was my “gun time” not my finish time. Gun time is the time from the point the gun fires to start the race until I cross the finish. I am a rookie. Veteran runners know what matters is “chip time” or the amount of time from the point I cross the start until I cross the finish. Gun time and chip time are the same for those runners who start the race at the very front of the pack. I was near the back. This is a long-winded way of saying, as incredible as it seems, I ran faster than 1:58:30. My chip time was 1:56:56! That means I ran a sub nine minute mile pace. Sweet!
A picture is worth a thousand words and, in this instance, 13.1 miles.
I had 3 goals when I set out to run my first half-marathon. In priority order they were:
- Have fun
- Finish under 2 hours
Goals one and two were required. Why subject myself to the hours of training, a $55 entry fee and pricey running supplies if I wasn’t going to have fun or finish once I started? I didn’t take finishing for granted. In fact, goal three was a pipe dream as far as I was concerned since I planned to run the first six miles at 10’00” per to warm up and average 9’30” per for the last seven and change to make sure I could finish. That would put me at one hour for the first six miles and 1:07:27 for the remainder, meaning I would finish in 2:07:27—perfectly respectable for my first race.
So, what happened? I received a package from BALCO on Friday. Just playing.
Actually, I felt great, the weather was great, I was surrounded by faster runners and I had TB there cheering me along at the start, 7.5 mile mark, 9.5 mile mark and finish. Everything came together better than I imagined and I surprised myself with how fast I ran both halves of the race.
I ran the first four miles at 10’00” per mile, as planned, but demolished miles 5 through 7 which were either downhill or flat and in the shade. Just before the 7.5 mile mark there was a brutally steep hill, but once I made it to the top I saw my girl cheering which made everything better. Miles 7 through 10 I ran like a man on fire compared to my normal pace. There were hills but nothing terrible. I think all the runners around me kicked it up a notch and I felt good enough to stay with them. Miles 10-12 were tough, I can’t lie. One thing that saved me was jettisoning my CamelBak at the 9.5 mile mark by passing it to TB. That probably cut 2 pounds (including the liquid inside) which is very noticeable when you’ve been running 90 minutes.
The mile points weren’t posted clearly over the course and my Nike+ sensor was way off (for example, it thinks I only ran 11.22 miles instead of 13.2) and I started regretting my “man on fire” moment when I began sucking wind somewhere around the 11.5 mile point. I knew I had enough in the tank to finish but I wondered if I could push myself to finish under 2 hours. There was a guy about 15 feet in front of me who seemed to be running a flat 2:00:00 pace so I figured I would just make sure he didn’t get too far ahead and rely on my Lagat-esque kick at the end. (Ha!)
Then something magical happened. I saw a sign that indicated we had reached the 12 mile mark. What!? For real? It was on.
I turned on the afterburners and began pumping my arms hell-bent on finishing strong. I quickly overtook my unofficial pacesetter thinking to myself, “You’re almost there. You’re almost there.” I turned a corner and saw the finish about 1/4 mile in the distance. I was running hard but not in an all-out sprint…maybe I was sprinting since it’s doubtful I could have run much faster. I saw TB there cheering as I approached the finish chute and almost passed out when I saw the time posted on the official clock flashed 1:58:30. I had done it.
It’s always fun to see different perspectives of the same event. So, as a special treat, I convinced TB to write about her experience as a first-time spectator for my first-time race. Continue reading below.