April 13, 2009

Big Al's Half Marathon

My legs just woke me up -- apparently, they are so tired that they won't let me sleep.

Yesterday, I ran the The Artichoke Half Marathon in beautiful Pescadero, CA.

It was one of the smallest races I've ever run, with maybe 150 participants: no porta-potties, just one stall bathroom before the start, no food snacks, only water at the aid stations, and bibs filled out by hand, in alphabetical order for the pre-registered folks.

Big Al, the organizer, herded us into a pack of shivering spandex and microfibers and yelled the directions at us. Thank goodness there were only three streets to remember because while we were trying to listen, a local resident honked and angrily revved their mini-van through the crowd. After the interruption, Big Al gave us a quick schpiel on diabetes and why we should exercise (preaching to the choir?), and then, basically, he said, "GO!" and we were off.

I haven't been running as much this year as in years past, so my goal was simple: finish in less than 2 hours. This meant I needed to keep a 9:20 mile pace.

E promised to drive out to meet me at the finish line, so I was motivated -- I didn't want to keep him waiting. I started out on the beautiful course with a 9:19 mile, and did a good job of keeping myself below 9:20 for the entire time.

Unfortunately, I crossed the finish line (to E's cheers) at 2:04:50.

How did I miss my time goal? Well, as Big Al laughingly informed E while he waited for me, the course was about a half a mile too long. There was a cone at the *true* half marathon finish, but I, like most, I suspect, completely missed it because I was focused on getting to the *finish*.

The rewards for my efforts were a finisher's medal and a giant artichoke. But, despite what one write-up said, there was no post-run brunch at Duarte's (they were closed for Easter). I suppose that's really too much to ask for -- it's a $25 race.

All-in-all, it was a great run. Foggy and cold at the start and just starting to burn off and warm up at the finish. The first 5 miles were slightly up hill for a total elevation change of 200 feet. Then a nice 1 mile downhill, 3 miles of rolling hills, and an excellent 4 mile slightly downhill finish. The entire thing was on the open roads, none of which were closed to traffic, but the cars were few and far between, and most (unlike the angry mini-van) were slow and fully of waving passengers (it is a very small town).

After the race, E and I split a margherita pizza from Pescadero Country Store, and then we stocked up on extra sour sourdough bread, half-baked bread for the freezer, garlic bread (the dangers of shopping post-long-run) and wine at Pescadero Bakery (aka Norm's Market).

On the drive home, E and I took advantage of the perfect weather to made a quick photo stop at San Gregorio State Beach.

What a perfect Sunday morning!


Arvay said...

A giant artichoke?

Coolest finisher prize EVER!

Anonymous said...

I know, RIGHT?

Plus, I took 2, because E2 had registered and couldn't make it, so I figured I should take hers too...


Anonymous said...

Very interesting and full of good information you got here! I'm running the Artichoke 1/2 this year so it's nice to know what to expect...I did think 25$ was super cheap and now I know why :)

TriCoachMartin said...

Hi. We are doing the race tomorrow. Could you describe exactly where the race route?