Here we go again

Categories: me, race
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Published on: January 2, 2011

Another year comes, another resolution to be better about keeping up with this blog.  But, I really, really mean it this time.  Really!

2010 — despite my silence — went out with a bang for me:  a half marathon PR at the Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in December.  Back in October I had talked about how I was following Hal Higdon’s advanced half marathon plan… and that while it seemed to be good at the moment, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to follow through with the rigorous 5-6 days/week of running.  But – as it turns out – my body actually DOES like running that much.  It’s almost like running that much doesn’t give my body a chance to forget how to do it right.  Or something like that.

The race itself?  I couldn’t have asked for better conditions: started out around 50 degrees, absolutely no wind and a flat course, most of which was up and back down the Vegas Strip (lots and LOTS of interesting people to distract you).  I went out at a conservatively fast pace, and felt like I was just flying along for the first 8 miles or so.  And that’s when the race truly started for me.

I got to the 5k-left mark and was struggling; that time in a race where you have to dig down, know that you trained for this, and keep moving forward.  I knew I had a bit of a cushion built in, but not so much that I could slack off.  At this point, all the fun people and distractions?  Not so good.  I’d start looking around and all of a sudden, my pace was a minute slower than it should have been.

Time to focus.

The closer I got to the finish line, the more panicked I became because I kept thinking I had miscalculated somewhere in the last few miles, and I wasn’t going to make it.  Problem is, my legs couldn’t go any faster than what I was doing.  Of course, my oxygen-starved brain wasn’t helping my already-challenged math skills.

So, knowing that I was putting out maximum effort, I stopped looking at my watch and just concentrated on turning my legs over as quickly as I could.  The finish line seemed so far away…

I scanned the horizon, looking for the finish banner, but not seeing it.  I heard the music, knew I couldn’t be far, but WHERE THE HELL WAS THE FINISH LINE??!  I finally realized the joke the race organizers had played on me:  the finish line was actually OFF the Strip.

Once in the parking lot of the Mandalay Bay hotel, I sprinted madly (or – stumbled awkwardly, depending on your viewpoint) for the finish. And managed to eke a 73 second PR (despite the fact that I had already re-calculated myself out of it)!  I left it all out on the course, that’s for sure, and as I drunkenly weaved through the finish area, all I knew is that I had a big, stupid grin on my face.  I DID IT.

Hal made me do it.  And then I went and actually did it.  What a great way to end my season!  And – I have to admit – Hal might be making me do other such outrageous things in the near future…. stay tuned…

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