The second half marathon: ummm... interesting
I think the first one spoiled me. It was ridiculously well run with an overabundance of trail markers, volunteers, snacks, supporters, and a super-high tech timing mechanism. I couldn't appreciate those perks then because I was a newbie. But now, well, now I know that Redwood Trails puts on a very professional, organized, type-A run. They manage to do it in a non-meth-head way that makes the studiously non-competitive type-A's feel comfortable (of which I am one--can't be competitive type-A about this sh*t, I'm too damn slow...).
This weekend's race, however...Well, it was just mediocre. But, then again, any run in Golden Gate National Recreational Area can't really be mediocre. So, it was awesome, picturesque, and great, but just not as well run as my first half-marathon. What can you do? Nothing ever tops the first time... or so they say.
First, my Garmin told me the race was 1.3 miles short. I'm willing to give 'em 0.5 to 0.75 miles that I may have lost in the trees and behind the hills. The gadget beeped a few times to remind me that it couldn't see the satellites for the trees. But, it didn't lose contact for 1.3 miles. I know this mainly because I walked up more hills than the last race and still finished 14 minutes faster.
Second, the finish was "along the beach." Sounds great at the start line. But when the last 0.5 to 1.0 miles (depends on who is telling the story...) is on unpacked gravel-sand, it's not so much "along the beach" as "over the god-damned beach, ever-so-slowly."
And third, the start was not organized by time. Given that the first couple of miles were uphill, including some steep stairs, allowing the fun-walkers to mix in with the pseudo-wanna-be-runners like myself meant that there was no running up the stairs or the steep hill. This is probably why I feel a million times better after this race than the last one, but at the time it was frustrating as hell.
My theory is that the folks at envirosports are less precise, type-A, and organized than the folks at Redwood Trails. There was a higher ratio of hiker-walker types to ridiculous hilly-marathon types than at my last race. Basically, the enviro-folks seem well-balanced and not very neurotic, so of course I have a hard time relating and feeling at home. This mellow attitude was best demonstrated during initial announcements, where they offered to take any amount off of your time that you attributed honor-system-style to sight-seeing at the top of the mountain.
In short, this race wins the award for the views, but that's it. It'll probably be the race where I actually buy the sponsored photograph (since E, my sister and I slowed to a crawl so we could triumphantly run through the photo station at the same time).
On a different, but equally interesting (and how very uninteresting it must be...) note, the "walk-more-at-the-beginning" approach of Jeff Galloway was forced upon me by the single-file-stairs being oh-so-slowly climbed by the not-so-fast. I think it may have helped me. At one point in the race, I surprised myself by busting out a 7:47 mile. I didn't know I could run that fast and still maintain enough endurance to continue in a long race. Perhaps it's because I took walk breaks on the uphills in the beginning.
Regardless of why I was able to run fast, I'm happy I was able to go for a 10 mile walk this evening with K. And, more importantly, I'm thrilled that I don't feel like the complete and total excuse for a human that I was two days after the first half-marathon.
So, perhaps I'll try to implement the take-walk-breaks-early-to-save-your-legs plan in my next half-marathon, which by the way, will be flat, praise Allah, Yaweh, and Dog. It should be a good time since it's in the middle of summer heat, my first chip race, in wine country on a Sunday (will BT be able to resist the sweet siren call of the dehydrating vino the night before the race?), and, of course, let us not forget it's in the middle of both summer associate season and barbeque season which will be collaborating to add 10 pounds to the tortured BT frame.