Monday, September 17, 2007


I didn't wake up at 6 a.m. for a week straight or anything, but I got close enough to a good sleep schedule to be awake for the half-marathon Sunday. And it went surprisingly well.

For the week before, I'd had what felt like sciatic pain in my right leg, so I was afraid that'd subconsciously slow me down, even though there wasn't anything structurally injured. It nagged me a bit before the race, but I didn't feel it at all during and I don't feel it anymore now.

I had a marvelous stroke of luck in the minutes before the race. With 15 minutes to go before the gun, I had to use the bathroom, but the lines for the dozens of portable ones in front of the museum were 50 people long. Duc suggested running to a building a quarter mile down Kelly Drive, so we headed that direction but soon saw three portopotties just behind a fence at a construction site behind the museum, with a little crack in the fence that runners had been squeezing through. No line. In and out in a minute, and I still had time to stretch.

The field was enormous, 16,000 runners squeezed onto Ben Franklin Parkway. My goal was to break a 7:30 pace. That was my mile pace in the marathon I ran in April 2006, and considering I'm not in as good a shape now as I was then, it seemed reasonable.

My first mile was a 7:16; it was tough to get any leg room out there. I mentally cackled at the dudes who had to stop after a mile to use portopotties. Second mile a 6:50, definitely too fast, but I still hadn't started breathing hard. The herd mentality, being surrounded by runners on similar paces, made it impossible to go too much faster or slower.

Starting with the third mile through the 11th mile, all my splits were between 7:03 and 7:10. The slight hill of the final two miles found me slowing down a bit and getting passed by at least a hundred people, but I still came through in 1:33:47, a 7:09 pace.

Duc ran significantly faster than his predicted pace, too, and I think two factors were in play:
1) With so many runners in the race, you could pick anyone to pace off of and then switch to somebody else a minute later if that person suddenly seemed to be too fast or slow for your taste.
2) The weather was immaculate. Low 50s and cloudless when the race started at 7:45 a.m., it was maybe the best running conditions I've experienced.

So what's next? Probably a winter 5K or 10K, then deciding whether to try to beat my 2006 time in the 2008 Louisville marathon. For sure, I'm not going to rest on my laurels for a full year like I did last time.

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