ENOUGH WITH THE SMALL TALK. HOW'D IT GO?
I wilted over the final 5K but still managed a 1:07:13, well below my goal and within 4:15 of a PR I strung together in weather about 40 degrees cooler. On a normal January day this might've gone under 1:02.
DID YOU WIN?
No, this being the big event that it is, plenty of speed demons were out. I was 11th of 77 in my age group and 48th of 1007 overall.
HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?
I got off the train at White Rock Station at 7:03, downed my pre-race caffeine and started jogging down Northwest Highway to warm up. I began to perceive this impending... intestinal requirement, whose needs were going to surpass by great lengths anything in the athletic realm. Fortunately there's a lone port-a-potty at the foot of Flagpole Hill, of which I was able to avail myself.
A little more jogging got me to Norbuck Park, where I then needed to empty out the front end. When all was said and done, it was 7:27 by the time I was settled in behind the starting line. I wasn't pouring sweat yet, but I was close.
Having started 24 seconds off the line, the first couple miles gave me plenty of chances to pass folks. I tried running at a pace I was comfortable with, just a little slower than what I might've been capable of in cooler conditions. I hit the 5K mat in 21:18. It was faster than I knew I could sustain, but I wasn't worried. All I needed was to beat 1:09 and I'd be happy.
As I neared the turnaround, a group of us encountered that most evil of White Rock denizens, the cyclist who won't cede her ground because YOU are on the wrong damn side of the trail. Look, I know the trail is open to everyone and you're just out there trying to enjoy a nice ride, but let's be reasonable here. We're in a RACE. We're trying to get from here to there as fast as possible within the rules, and the rules are such that the shortest route includes taking all the tangents. If it's that big a deal to you, it's very easy to find out if there is an event going on at the lake and avoid it. As this woman growled at us running by, it's possible I said something rude. Possible.
My second 5K took 22:48, but I was already starting to ease up before I got to the mat. Somewhere around mile 6.5 I remembered that I had a GU in my pocket. I don't know if would've helped any if I'd eaten it 2 miles earlier, but by this point it was definitely way too late. I kept pushing, barely keeping it together until another runner edged by me coming down the stretch. I misstepped and almost bit it less than 100 yards from the finish, but caught myself and zoomed across the line. The last 5K split was 23:30.
A couple spots along the course had sprayers rigged up to shower you as you passed. It was a nice thought, but the problem was that at least one of them was unavoidable unless you ran off the pavement. Something like that needs to be optional; I like being cooled off but I don't exactly dig getting sprayed in the eyes.
On the other hand, as we crossed the finish line, before we got to water or Powerade or bananas or anything else, volunteers handed us each a hand towel plucked from a tub of ice water. Draping that towel across my shoulders felt just fantastic. A brilliant idea.
6:49 pace last .37
OK, WHAT ABOUT THE REAL REASON WE ALL RUN, THE STUFF?
The selling point of the race is that it offers some of the best goods of anyone, but I gave this year's premiums a lukewarm reaction. The red running hat is stylish, certainly, but the choice of a muscle shirt over a tank was not well-received. For guys like me who must run shirted, something like the tank given out a couple years back is ideal for the summer. It's a nominal reduction in fabric, sure, but it's still less.
The Hottest Half, Dallas, Aug. 14.