Monday, July 11, 2011

Historic Half Race

This post was started sometime in May, I promise. I must have been proctoring an SOL test, but then gotten distracted and stopped. So here we are, July 11, and I'm going to actually write it. All that was here when I opened it was a photo and the words "14 miles." So I'll just guess where I was going with that thought.

14 miles. That's how far I must have run in this race. 14 miles. Not 13.1. And I did it in 78:47, not whatever the race results listed me as. Stupid timing mat didn't register me crossing because the race officials didn't prep them for what was happening. And somehow I've managed to NOT keep my splits. I suppose that I assumed I typed them up in a race summary or on Garmin Connect. But it appears as though I didn't. So we'll have to go from memory.

I wasn't at the starting line when the race started. I was on Fall Hill Avenue. Mother nature urged me to arrive late at the race by requiring me to use the bathroom twice within 10 minutes of the start time. Also, my clock (real time) was very different from that of the Marine Corps. Oh well. I saw the wheelchair people start and then I dashed through the Wegmans parking lot. I saw Merrie Morrison right around the starting line and chose to stretch/wait with her before I started. Watching all those people start was a little intimidating, I won't lie. But I was mostly concerned when I thought I saw another wave of runners getting ready to go. Fortunately those were the 5k runners and I didn't have to wait much longer. Unfortunately, those 5k runners pushing up towards the line is probably what caused the people or whoever was timing to get nervous and restart the mats. But either way, I hopped over the fence and moved to the middle of the very spacious starting area. This unintentionally gave the announcer and some other media people enough time to notice me there and I started the race with jubilant cheers from the crowd at the encouragement of the PA guy.

So I started running. I probably ran unobstructed for about a minute. Then I hit the wall. There were people everywhere. I was weaving through them as much as I could, but sometimes I'd just have to stop trying and wait for a gap. I felt like I was walking. I heard a lot of cheers, many by name, and I just waved into the air-- I couldn't afford to turn around and look for someone because I might crash! I stayed in the middle of the field because I felt like it was the easiest for me to stay under control with pace. At the Krispy Kream I caught Greg and jumped on his back a little bit. He yelled out something foolish probably. At the intersection of Cowan and Carl. D. Silver Parkway, I swung wide. I probably passed 1,000 people in that intersection, because they were all taking the corner as short as they could and I didn't care. Part of the reason I ran 14 miles, for sure. I was amazed that there was a water stop in the first mile. So I tucked in right behind that and actually ran as close to the fire trucks as I could... all just to pass people. I still felt like I was walking though. And people were everywhere.

Vic told me later that we ran on the wrong side of the road. We were apparently supposed to be going with the flow of traffic, but we were running against it. However, after we passed the fire trucks and the water stop, right around mile 1, people were on both sides. Mile was was 7:16. I was very surprised with that. Things opened up a lot after that for a while, with both sides of Cowan being occupied by runners, so I passed a lot of people there. I was also passed by a kid running with a backpack. I don't think he was in the race. There were also some barefoot people. I was passed a lot going down that hill, and I thought those people were stupid, especially now as I sit here and type this. Because I was going faster than they should have been. When we got to either Kim and Craig's neighborhood or the Hospital intersection, we had to merge to one side of the road. That's when I had the strangest sensation of overheating. If I'd ever felt this before, I'd forgotten about it (Maybe MCM 2002 or Boston 2004). It was just so HOT. I was surrounded by hot, sweaty people who were all breathing so hard and suffering so much. It was disgusting how much heat their bodies were putting out. I never have to deal with that up front, because I'm not surrounded by hundreds of gross people. I didn't like it. It was so crowded, I actually got kicked in the back of my foot and got a little cramp in the back of my left leg because of it.

Mile 2 was something like 6:18. Ridiculous. All that downhill, and I was holding back. I got more water was we passed Hugh Mercer and headed into Westwood. I was still passing a lot of people, and holding back. I saw lots of people that I'd met at the Expo and kept hearing cheers. I saw the Walsh family in Westwood and said hello to them. Going up the hill in the neighborhood, I passed a whole lot of people. They were suffering already at that point, probably from running too hard downhill a mile earlier. It was just incredible. Sitting here now, it is incredible how many people I passed, and how quickly.

I left the neighborhood and got onto Rt. 3. Things really opened up there. But that's because I'd run my 3rd mile in like 6:12 and passed 5000 people already. I was in about 750th place at the 5k timing mat. Amazing. Going down Rt. 3 I was on the far right side of the road, to make it easier. But as I got towards Rt. 1, I saw KC standing on the grassy hill by the exit ramp from 95, and I turned 90 degrees to run straight over to her. I mean perpendicular to the flow of the race. She was there with her parents and they were very excited to see me, as I them.

Things were largely uneventful for a while after that. I don't know what my splits were either, but they were probably all way under 6:00 for the next 7 miles. I passed a lot of people that I knew and heard a lot of cheers by name. At the intersection of Kenmore and William, I passed Jay Fitzsimmons. He was pissed. My left leg was getting tighter and tighter, and I worried if I would even be able to finish. So I kept telling myself to stay conservative. At 10k, I was in 150th place. Around half-way, I passed Jack Morrison. He was in shock. I ran by Cleo Morris and gave her a high-five. At True Loves/Barefoot Greens, I passed some kid with an afro who'd talked trash to me at the Expo, and shortly thereafter passed a very surprised David Lovegrove. I was just as surprised as all these people, passing them so soon!

Jeff Branscome came next around Old Mill Park. My leg was hurting pretty badly, but I knew that I was going to finish at this point. I wasn't looking forward to the hospital hill though. I'm sure no one was. At 15k, I was in 68th place. As I crested the hill on Riverside Drive that used to be mile 2 of the Turkey Trot course, I saw Pat Early. He'd envisioned me gaining on him at mile 12, and here we were within mile 9 still. Sucker. It still took a while; I passed him just past 10 miles, which I reached in 60:01. So with 3 miles largely over 6:00 minute pace, I'd managed to drop it down to average that at mile 10. Things were going well. I had no idea what total time that would put me near, because I hadn't even considered time much more than thinking around 85 minutes total.

As I passed Pat, he told me to go get Justin. So that was my next goal. But Michelle Dolby was outside of CVS jumping around like a crazy person, telling me to go get Matt! I couldn't even see him yet! KC was there at the hospital too, as I passed a water stop and Justin Neibauer. Another one bites the dust. I was disappointed that Bob MacDonald wasn't here at this point, because I was expecting him to be at the hospital. Alas. Looking up the hill, I saw someone in the distance that I thought was Nick Dunford, so I had a new target. I passed the women's leader on the ER half of the hospital hill and she'd pooped her pants. Gross. Really really gross. I will quit a race before I poop in my shorts. Write that down.

I almost quit the race on that hill. I hate that hill. It's the worst. No races should ever have hills. I run up that hill in too many half-marathons. Idiot. What am I thinking? I'll tell you what I was thinking-- that this race was over. The 11th mile was a 6:24. Done for. I'll just stop here now, thanks. Too late, gotta run the rest of this stupid thing. Jon Murgittroyd's mom was on the corner of Cowan, and she told me that she was "so proud" of me. That was nice. So it was either that or Nick that got me back on track, running the 12th mile up Cowan in 6-flat something. BUT as I crested the interstate bridge and crossed mile 12, I saw that it was NOT Nick I'd been chasing at all. Oh well, Matt Boyd was in my sights. I wish I could remember how many seconds he was ahead of me as we went under the American Flag, but I don't. It was a lot though, and I was gaining on him, fast.

Wait, not so fast! Remember that kick I took over a mile into the race? Yeah, so did my legs. Making the turn off of Cowan at McDonald's, there was a skinny white kid, Matt, and Nick-- all within my sights, and my leg locked up. I thought I was donesies again! I couldn't freakin' believe I'd gotten that far and I was going to have to walk the last mile. How much money would I give up? Would Drew Carrey catch me? Oh no...

Last Mile
But then Matt and skinny white kid both looked back. So I had to gut it out. That kid was not going to stand between me and Matt Boyd, so I caught him, drafted for a second, and then went around him. I think I even said something to him as I did, about having to work hard to beat me. I dunno. It was probably not a total asshole thing to say, but I can't remember. Now on to Matt. Nick was too far away, but I could get one more.

No I couldn't. I gave it everything I had. Mile 13 was 5:41, which I believe was my fastest split of the day. If you watch the race finish video about 1 minute in, you can see that I didn't do a very good job of running the tangents that late in the race. Matt held me off by 1 second. He told afterwards that I let him have it-- but that's not true. I had no more gears. Maybe if my leg hadn't been messed up, sure, but not that day. I was all in.

Long story short, I finished 28th place. I passed 5689 runners and raised over $12,000 for the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.

Here is some press about the race, featuring you-know-who.

Washington Running Report
Free Lance-Star Article about me
The Front Burner - Blog
Free Lance-Star (General Article)

And donations keep coming in! So that's awesome. The FAFB wants me to do it again next year. We'll see. My novelty has probably worn off.

1 comment:

  1. It's also important that I mention that when I woke up the morning of the race, I had an email from Scott Mersiowsky, or maybe it was from his daughter, saying that he wouldn't be running the race because he was sick. So I called him at 5:45 to call him a wuss.

    I didn't want to forget to mention that completely.


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