You may remember the double entendre in the post title from such classic prior Capital City River Run race reports as:
2009: Mine is Shorter Than Yours
2010: Mine is Longer Than Yours
Once again, they f-ed me. That’s right, according to infallible Garmin (p.b.t.n*), the already long half marathon course…got even longer again this year. It’s like the race organizers are using some sort of enlargement device to make it longer (and girthier) every single year. Really, it’s unnatural and, the way it weaves all over the place, entirely too veiny. The good news is that, despite the extra inches, I was able to set a new course PR. The bad news is that, due to the extra inches, I wasn’t able to set a distance PR.
To begin at the beginning (a very good place to begin), this was to be my second and, most likely, last half marathon of the year. In May, I set a PR of 1:26:37 on a largely flat, perfectly measured course. Then, per usual, I started getting all braggy about how I’d go ahead and devote my summer to some hard training and come back in September to set yet another PR. If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s telling people about the wonderful things I’m gonna do. If there’s two things I’m good at, it’s assigning external blame when the first thing I’m good at inevitably doesn’t happen. Consider this post my #2 thing I’m good at.
The truth is that, though I trained consistently hard through-out the summer, I didn’t really “up the ante” from what I had been doing prior to the Bayshore Half in May. More like, I put my brain, legs, and training plan pen on auto-pilot and just kinda….kept on going. Same training distances. Same paces. Hell, largely even the same unwashed compression shorts/end table. I wasn’t really expecting to kick ass. But I was thinking about taking a few names though I’d commit them to memory…no need for a Rolodex.
I showed up at the course full of yawns and fecal matter. The yawns were easy to pass. The fecal matter….another story…but not through lack of effort. I was one grunt away from running a half marathon with a spidery hemorrhoid hanging out of my unwashed compression shorts. Did you hear about the Irishman caught recently with 72 bags of cocaine in his abdomen? This is not a joke. There’s no punchline. See, here’s the actual story. And the CAT scan.
And you thought runners were gaunt? Dude, we can see your ribs.
That’s what I felt like with the pressing on my lower g.i. Except, it wasn’t cocaine. Well, it wasn’t all cocaine. There was a fair amount of Chili’s chicken tender tacos, chocolate pudding pie, and Good n’Plenty’s in there. You know, your normal pre-race fuel. I knew right off that this race would be a battle considering the 72 little bags of waste stowing away in my small intestines. I could only hope the course was more in line with the Bayshore distance (13.13 miles) if I wanted to PR. Hey, they redesigned it – again – this year so there was always the chance, right?
I won’t bore you with the mile by mile details except to point out that the key point came around the 7 mile mark. I had been following a group of 7-8 runners - whom I nicknamed the “peloton” - by about 15 seconds. They were marching along at a consistent pace in the neighborhood of 6:30 minute miles. I knew that my PR hopes were pinned to sticking with the peloton. But, man, my little stowaways were starting to get a little rowdy. I wasn’t sure I was up for it. Frankly, I felt like easing off and spending the next 6 miles coming up with a creative excuse to blame for my failure. Even more frankly, I felt like easing off and figuring out a way to get to the finish with no more than 20 stowaways left.
This was my Flight or Fight moment. It came earlier in the race than I expected. I’m happy to report that I chose to Fight, mainly because I received a small bump in motivation from the peloton. The #3 overall female runner was in the group but she had slowly slipped off the pace and I had gradually gained even with her by mile 8. As I moved on past, I could tell that she was using me as a pacer. Nobody uses me as a pacer. Hell, no one uses me at all. I’m the notorious user around here. I felt strangely obligated to carry the pace forward under some sort of unwritten runner’s code of race pacer ethics. So I did. My robot brain overrode the yipping from my lower g.i. and the body went marching along under its monotone command.
My mile by mile splits weren’t nearly as consistent as I would have liked. I think they reflect my waxing/waning motivation. Here they are, for posterity, in all their mundane glory:
Mile 01 6:40
Mile 02 6:43
Mile 03 6:48
Mile 04 6:24
Mile 05 6:31
Mile 06 6:34
Mile 07 6:36
Mile 08 6:31
Mile 09 6:38 (overall time, 59:24 – compared to 59:37 at Bayshore – ahead of pace!)
Mile 10 6:43
Mile 11 6:28
Mile 12 6:30
Mile 13 6:33 (overall time, 1:25:38 – compared to 1:25:51 at Bayshore – ahead of pace!)
Last bit 5:53 pace (1:49 time - .31 miles according to Garmin(p.b.t.n.))
Numbers? Yes, numbers:
13.11 miles (Garmin sez 13.31 miles)
25th of 1630 overall
5th of 106 in age group
No PR. Despite being faster than PR pace through 9 miles and 13 miles, each by 13 seconds, the long, engorged course raped me in the final post-13 miles distance by over a minute. I wasn’t in shape for that extra girth. Still, I’m glad I didn’t prematurely emasculate myself at mile 7 and stayed in the fight. It was, after all, a new course PR! Compare from year to year (according to Garmin):
Year – Dist - Time
2009 13.21 1:28:51
2010 13.29 1:27:43
2011 13.31 1:27:27
They can keep making the course longer but I’ll keep setting course PR’s apparently. Hell, by the time this course measures at an even 14 miles in a few years, I should be able to run it in 1:20, right?
I’ll take my course PR, my half marathon per mile pace PR (6:34), and my little stowaways home with subdued satisfaction. They can keep pumping up that course and I’ll keep setting a personal best on the sumbitch.
Oh, and yes, I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and ejecting stowaways, if anyone was concerned. Lots and lots of reading. Lots and lots of puckering.
*”praise be thy name” for those who forgot