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Where I pull a half-marathon out of nowhere & bore you with the details
I haven’t been running as much as I used to. Heck, I’ve even been wondering if the name “Daddy Runs a Lot” is really applicable anymore . . . but, when push comes to shove, I still do enjoy running. And I would run a whole lot more than I do right now if I didn’t enjoy sleep as much as I do1.
But, this past weekend was the Hershey Half Marathon. Despite the fact that they allowed a significantly greater number of runners this year, I knew the event would sell out, so I signed up, thinking “I’ll get pretty serious about training sometime before the run . . . or, at the very least, I can pull a half-marathon out of my ass.” The latter held true.
This weekend, Duffy went away on a much-needed girl’s weekend – which meant it was just me & the kids. While I love time with the kids, my typical “day before the race” routine involves eating pasta and stretching before an early bedtime.
So I got out of bed (waking CJ) to get milk.
Each child sucked down their sippy-cup full of cow juice and found their respective arm-pit (Leila in my left, CJ in my right) before falling back to sleep. At 6, we were all cuddled and happy.
My own internal alarm clock woke me just before 7. I felt out to do a diaper check. CJ was nearing the “peed through” stage, but wasn’t quite there yet. Leila . . . well, Leila was nowhere to be found.
I nearly jumped out of bed, but then freaked out that, maybe, Leila had fallen out of bed and was lying helpless on the floor2, and then did the “monster check” that I remember doing as a kid, looking over the side of the bed, and then under the bed, because if I touched the floor, a monster would get me.
There was no Leila there.
I re-checked the bed, just to make sure that she wasn’t caught up in the blankets (she wasn’t).
I ran downstairs.
I heard the “dada” squeal and she ran to me, a plastic teapot in her hand. Around the coffee table sat a stuffed puppy and a doll – both with a plastic teacup in front of them. My near-heart-attack was interrupting their tea party.
Then she asked to watch Dumbo.
On Saturday, though, I started with a near heart attack (see sidebar, right) before heading over to Elizabethtown College, my alma mater, for their homecoming.
Of course, I forgot to bring the stroller with me — so I walked around, a lot, much of the time carrying two clinging toddlers to me. But we had a good time meeting up with friends & checking out my old haunts.
However, the kids’ sugar intake meant that they were in a mood to party until around 11, when I fell asleep. There was no stretching, though leftover pizza did work as a quasi-carb load.
I had set the alarm for 4 in the morning, but Leila beat the electronic buzzer with her demands for milk. I got her milk and started the battle to get her dressed. Obviously, Daddy has no idea what princesses wear, and, eventually, she decided that the outfits that I was bringing over for her to choose from were entirely unsatisfactory, so she chose her outfit herself (a very pretty, though far too large for her, dress).
Then I got myself dressed (running tights, a compression shirt, running shorts, and the jersey from the 2010 Harrisburg Marathon, if you must know).
Then I woke up CJ in the act of dressing him.
I was out of the door by 5:30.
The problem was that I was supposed to be in Hershey by 6:30, to pick up my packet, Hershey is an hour’s drive, and I still had to drop my kids off at my mom’s.
However, I made it to Hershey by 7:10 (after stopping by Dunkin’ Donuts for a cup of coffee . . . with real sugar, because I allow myself real sugar on race days), for a 7:30 race. After running around for a bit, trying to figure out just where to pick up my packet (because they changed the location to make things easier for the very late comers, but I never saw the sign as a very late comer), picking up my packet, dropping off my swag in my truck, standing on the porta-potty line, peeing, I made it to the start line just as they said “GO!”
Not waiting around for awhile, at the start, is kind of awesome.
From last year, I knew my strategy of “running like an asshole3” wouldn’t work, so I set out between the 9:00 mile & the 10:00 minute mile crowds. Simply, especially in the early going, the course was fairly narrow, and you burn a lot of energy passing pack. I knew I’d, likely, be dealing with energy issues toward the end of the run, so I didn’t want to spend any extra energy against the crowd if I didn’t have to. Besides, this event is a half-marathon & relay . . . meaning that there would be no shortage of runners passing me, with fresh legs, soon after the half-way point.
I walked my way to the start and found my stride.
They changed the course from last year — there was more time inside Hershey Park and less time in the parking lot. I applaud the change, even if it meant a hillier route. Simply, the more I can be distracted during a race, the happier I am.
I did not run a great race. While my first mile matched my pace from last year, but I started running out of steam around mile marker 7, and I felt “heavy” around mile marker 10. The thing is, I maintain that I can “run a 5k, whenever,” so once I made it to the 10 mile mark, it was just a matter of getting to the end.
Looking back over my splits (I hit the “runners high” around the third mile, and that carried me until the 10th mile, so I was only vaguely aware of the mile markers until then, though the big arch for the second-leg start for the relay teams made me acutely aware of the 6.55 mile mark), I can see that I steadily lost steam throughout the run. My best mile was my first (which, considering I was dealing with crowds, surprised me), but my differential between best & worst was 1:12, which is far better than my best full marathon, but far worse than most of my long training runs (where I can usually keep my miles within 30 seconds of one another).
All-in-all, it was a beautiful run. While the temperatures were cold, right at the start, I was running around too much to let the cold set in . . . and, as the day progressed, the sun came out, the breeze was just strong enough to help blow the sweat away, the humidity was well in-check.
Simply, the half marathon reminded me why I love running.
Complaints? I have none for the event organizers . . . if I had looked more closely, I would have seen where packet pickup was for people like me (the last minute pickup-ers), and that was my only stress for the whole thing. However, on the course:
- I seek out kids on the sideline throughout any organized run . . . so, if you’re a kid, on the sideline of a race, please-please-please don’t let me hanging if I stick my hand out for a high five along the way. I’m blaming the fact that most of the runners ahead of me were concerned about their time (so I may have been the first runner through that sought-out high-gives) for the fact that, early on, few kids responded to my coming by.
- Why, for the love of god, if you’re walking during any run, would you work your way to the left? Seriously, I think it’s more dangerous than driving slow in the fast lane. Early on, as I was working my way around a big pack of slowish-runners, I nearly plowed into two “race walkers” who were traveling at about half my speed. And I’m pretty sure they had their left turn signal on, too.
- Only two women flashed me4.
- They may have gone a bit much with support personnel on the course — I don’t need someone telling me which way to go when there is a swarm of runners ahead of me, all of them going the same way – though I did make someone laugh by acting all confused as a volunteer pointed to the left, underneath a bunch of signs pointing to the left, as all of the runners ran to the left)
My favorite moment came sometime near the middle of the race — a large crowd had gathered, and they were cheering furiously, so all of the runners, right there, were getting pumped up. But I let out a loud guffaw when, in the middle of a throng of cheering spectators, someone held a sign reading “Worst Parade, Ever” in bright purple lettering.
I had a great time, though I have some sore legs & feet today . . . it’s good to know that, should I need to, I can still pull a half marathon out of my ass.