Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Really Did It This Time!

So it's official. I am a half marathoner! Is that a real thing? Well I am pretty proud of myself either way.

I trained so much for this half marathon and I almost didn't get to run it. Several months ago when I decided to run my first half marathon I chose one that starts a few blocks from my house. I did not realize when picking this race it was within about a week of my son being born. My son John(Jack) IV was born on March 28, 2011 and my wife was understanding enough to let me run the Westfield Half Marathon six days later.

Over the last several weeks I also had some discomfort in my hip so I have been a regular at the chiropractor's office doing everything I could to stay healthy.

I arrived and found that there were quite a few people running this race. I picked up my tech shirt and after much debate I decided to bring my water bottle with me on the run.

The race starts with about a mile of flat terrain. It was one of the most interesting starts because they only closed one lane of the road but there were so many runners that the cars that were there were completely swallowed up by the crowd. They also started a 5k at the same time that followed the same route for about a mile. As you could imagine this made pacing myself a little more difficult.

I got off to way too fast of a start but was feeling pretty good. I ran by someone who I know is a much faster runner than I am and I got a little nervous. I tried to really control my self. First hill is pretty steep and about a quarter mile long. I had a very good steady pace up it. The road flattens out for a bit before the most difficult hill on the course. This hill goes up a mountain for about a mile and is very steep. I almost mad it to the top without stopping but I only stopped for about 30 seconds and kept going. I still felt pretty good at this point.

The course then extends into Southwick through a bunch of farms. This is a very scenic course with some very fantastic views. Before long I made it to a turn onto Granville Road and a nice downhill. After about a mile the route turns again back towards the starting point. This is a stretch of about 3-4 miles on a country road through farms. There is even a pretty old one lane bridge.

When I approached the half way point I realized how tired I was. I had hardly slept during the last week and it was really catching up with me. Even my eyes were getting tired. Then as if it was an oasis, there were people handing out Gu packs. Now I had never used Gu before but I figured I was desperate and needed some energy quick. Right then I made my first mistake. I took the Gu and rubbed it on. It was so sticky and I had no where to wipe my hands so I was covered in sticky gel for the rest of the race. What I didn't know about Gu was that it makes you incredibly thirsty and I drank all my water around the 8 mile mark.

I was running out of steam quickly but I kept going. I had gone this far I wasn't going to quit now. About the 9 mile mark I was exhausted and stopped to walk for a few seconds. After about 15 seconds this older guy comes up and encouraged me to keep running. This guy was great. He actually paced me for about a mile and a half. I found out he was a member of the Sugarloaf Mountain Running club which is based out of South Deerfield, MA. What a classy move! He was so concerned about helping me he slowed down himself. I really appreciated it. He was very encouraging and when I told him I had to stop when we got to the bridge he tried to convince me not to stop and then only relented when I promised to only walk for 30 seconds and that I would keep running after that. I actually ended up running further than I planed before stopping to walk and I was so impressed with his generosity that I did start running again after just 30 seconds. I did so right before the last hill of the race. I had about 1.5 to 2 miles left and the course flattened out.

The basically dragged my self to the next water station which was about 1 mile from the finish. I stopped and chugged two cups of water and quickly got going again. I felt like I had no energy left. I could see the fence which was .2 miles form the finish line. When I passed through the fence I was so tired but I was finally able to ignore my fatigue and began to pick up the pace and I actually did manage to sprint the last 100 yards and pass two people before crossing the finish line. I got my medal for completing the race and after making it through the shoot I was greeted with a hand shake from the Sugarloaf Mountain Running Club guy. I thanked him for his help and he congratulated my on completing my first half marathon.

I had completed my goal and now I am wondering what to do next. I may attempt a triathlon. Right now I am going to rest. My official time was slower than I thought it would with my training times, but I was just so tired. I finished in 2:14. I met my goal of finishing, and next year I have a time to beat.

P.S. I did a recovery run right before writing this tonight and felt really good. 3 miles in 26:10!

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