Fitness Update: (Modified) Half Marathon

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Well, This past week I ran my second half marathon, sort of, but sort of didn’t.

The Kansas City Corporate Challenge half marathon was scheduled for this past Saturday. The route started at the Southcreek Business Park and after a loop around there ran down through the Overland Park Community Park and the Tomahawk Valley Trail.

But rain Saturday night had either washed out, or flooded, parts of the trails at the further end, so they had to modify the course. We ended up with two loops around the business park and a “short” run down the trail and back, for a total length of 9.8 miles.

Now, the Saturday before, I had run a long run of 7.5 miles, but between that long run and the Half Marathon, I didn’t do any running. I swam once, did a lot of biking, but mostly I slept in each morning. The week before the race I was suddenly very tired, and opted to rest over train.

Which turned out to be the right option.

It rained the night before the race, but was dry and overcast the morning  before the race started. The humidity was above 90% and the temperature was about 60 degrees. The 700-some of us lined up into sections based on our expected running paces. And then we were off.

This was the first race this year that I ran without having run some of the course to check the terrain and know what to expect. So the first loop around the business park seemed a little long. It was also a question about setting a pace, and being comfortable with it.

The pavement on the upside of the loop felt better to me than the downside, but I enjoyed going downhill more than uphill. Except that we did get some breeze, and it ended up being a headwind while going downhill. That is one of the things I like the least while riding a bicycle, and I found I don’t really like running into a headwind either, whether uphill or down.

On the second loop around I heard someone behind me talking to the person next to her about her fitness device, and how it was telling her we were at about a 9 minute mile pace. I asked back, did you say a 9 minute mile? When she assented, I said, “Good, that mean’s I’m not running too fast.”

Because the 9-minute mile was the pace I had wanted to set.

Which bring me to an aside. Many times during the first two loops of the race I was being passed by people, and I could hear them breathing hard as they did so. I was always able to talk to them, say hello, good job, go for it, etc., but many of them didn’t have enough breath to reply. As long as I was running at a pace where I could talk, I knew I wasn’t overpacing myself. Many of those people I subsequently passed later on down the trail.

After the second loop, we took a left turn onto the trail section of the route, and started heading both into headwinds, and a scattering of sprinkles that continued to get more misty and persistent as the rest of the race went on.

Running the 2+ miles down the trail to the turnaround, I kept expecting to get to the turnaround sooner than I did. At first it was only a few people coming back and me, but as the numbers thickened, I kept on feeling like I  had to be close. When a pack of people from my company came back by me, I found myself encouraged, just as I did when my friend Paul Mast ran by and we gave each other a high five slap on the exchange.

Then finally the turn was made and I was on the way back. This was the stretch where my passing of people became a slow but consistent reality (along with a few passing me still).

It was also where the heat from my own brow, and the moisture from the air and rain around me, started fogging up my glasses enough so my visibility actually began to decrease. Occasionally I would look over the glasses to verify what I was seeing. But mostly they kept the rain out of my eyes.

There were a lot of long stretches on the way back. Here’s the last turn back toward the business park — but, oh yes, I forgot about this long run back up to the turn-off. And then when we got back to the loop it was several stretches and turns before they actually brought us back into the final stretch where we could actually see the finish line.

I had been running right behind one guy most of the way back up to the pack and around those turns, but as we got to to the penultimate turn I started stretching out and putting on my last speed. As I passed him, I expected him to put on his own burn of speed, and still stay ahead of me. But he didn’t. Instead I found myself passing about 5 more people in my final sprint to the finish line — always running through the objective before slowing down.

I saw that the clock was somewhere before 1:27. When I checked the stats my time was: 1:26:22.5 with an overall place of 371 and a Gender Place of 287. I probably won’t know until later today how I actually placed within my division of the Corporate Challenge.

Many of the other people from my company talked about how they just weren’t ready to do a half marathon on Saturday, and glad it was shorter. For me, I came in with trepidation, but between the rest, and the weather, I felt like I could have kept my pace up for the full distance — but was just as glad that I didn’t have to.

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