Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon 3/28/09

I'd not done this half marathon before and, as usual, was apprehensive. First, there was the matter of getting there on time. Up at 5:30 and with a very cooperative dog I managed to get on the road by 6:30 and at the event in plenty of time to get my chip. I met a gentleman who said he'd trained for the two hills that occur behind the Raleigh Art Museum and was hoping to do a PR this day. (He told me later he had missed by just 12 seconds. He did get second in his very populated age group.)

It had rained all Friday night and was still overcast as we were between storms. A heavy thunderstorm was anticipated for the afternoon. However, it was warm. The provided tech shirt was more than sufficient. This being my 3rd half, I was doing it a bit differently. I had a modified fuel belt (as opposed to carrying a tiny bottle of Hammer Sustained Energy mix in my pocket.) which had a small pouch into which I had some energy jelly beans and threaded though the belt portion, one fuel bottle with the mix. I felt a bit dumb walking around with it, feeling like I was imitating someone who knew what they were doing or was just starting out. (Do you ever see big time runners with fuel belts? Usually you see them on runners doing the ultras etc. or on beginners who fear dropping from thirst.) I had used the mix one time before (in the tiny bottle) and it did not hurt, so why not? Maybe it helped. One nice lady in the hotel lobby helped me get the belt tight enough so it wouldn't bounce around. She was running with a bronchial cold that she was just starting to get over and planned to take it easy. Another wanted to know if there was a porta potty along the route (yep - at mile 6.)

One other change was that I planned to jog 15 minutes, then walk two and continue that trend as long as I could.

People lined up for the start on two separate blocks, haphazardly. No pace related sections. Some were on Davie street (and would turn onto Wilmingon for the start) and some on Wilmington. I think most on Davie had crossed the Start mat before I got to it. (In the end, I found I had been 2.5 minutes behind those who were right at the Start line. It took me that long after the starting horn to get to the Start mat. )

The race went up Wilmington, left onto Edenton, where a live band -- one of five or six along the route --helped us along, and then left onto I think Cabarrus, over to Wilmington again and back up to Edenton and left again. The race continued on Edenton to the merge with Hillsborough and on up to Blue Ridge Road to the Art Museum, back around the back portion and alongside or behind Meredith College before eventually returning back onto Hillsborough and down to the right jog onto Salisbury and left onto Fayetteville Street and the Finish near the Sheraton.

I did okay through the first loop but noticed that my Nike Sport Band was off in terms of distance recorded. It was short. (In the end, it was off by over a mile and half - short.) At mile one, it seemed my time was around a 10:56 pace. My 15 minutes elapsed somewhere after we had crossed Davie street again and before mile 2. I didn't feel as if I needed to walk but did so anyway. A plan is a plan until it is time to break it. One lady I encountered was doing a five minute jog with a one minute walk between. She said this was about a 13 minute pace.

I was still adhering to my plan when we turned onto Hillsborough and I skipped water stop one. By the time we got to stop two, I was already out of synch in terms of 15 jog/2 walk. I was about 3 or 4 minutes into the run part but decided to start the walk so I could imbibe some of my mix and chase it down with the water. Broke the plan and from that point on, it was about half and half as to sticking to it.

I did not find Hillsborough as challenging as in the past (maybe because I was running slower and not trying to finish a 5K!) At around mile 6, near NCSU Vet School fields, the porta potty awaited at least two women lined up outside. Fortunately, I did not need it and kept on going (I have yet to use one during an event.) By Blue Ridge Rd I could feel tightness in my hips. I slogged along. I met one young lady who asked if there were any races in Raleigh without hills. (No.) She was looking forward to seeing her children at the Finish line so they could see what Mommy had done. (I saw her afterwards and she was lined up with her kids for a photo, Happy as could be.)

When we hit the path behind the Art Museum I was in the jog mode. We passed a reclining stone statue of a pair of legs (butt to path) that some were debating as to whether it was a cow's legs or something else. Surely, the man was jesting. No doubt it was the rear view of a reclining woman's lower half. Shortly after came the hills the runner had told me about earlier. I decided to walk up them. It did not take much convincing of myself to do so. I knew I would grab some water at mile 10, and just kept that in mind. It probably was nearing 70 degrees by then, still overcast, but with an occasional peek of sun.

By the time I was on Hillsborough again, it became a mental thing, especially before the bridge where Edenton merged. I decided to try to keep jogging regardless of the 15 minute rule. It became harder to do so after passing Second Empire Restaurant. I could see the Capital aways ahead and knew I still had a jog around it and then the trek down Fayetteville still to go. I managed to slow jog my way until about a block and a half from the finish, where I increased my pace and by the Finish was in a full out sprint - well, as much of a sprint that I could do at that point.

What was great was that my breathing all along was fine and my legs did not hurt at the end. (A modified ice bath after walking the dog two miles upon return home helped keep it mostly that way. Epson salts the next day and the best of all: horse liniment starting on day 2 and ending day 3, erased any residual ache.)

As for results: essentially, I had the same time as the two preceding City of Oaks Rex Healthcare Half Marathons: gun time 2.31.56 and chip time 2.29.29. So, though the course is a bit different, I don't know if 15/2 made too much of a difference. Though, I was able to sprint end, which I had not done in any preceding Half. As far as age group: next to last.

I shall do it again next year if still around and no conflict. The bands were great and people too.

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