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April 7, 2012

Notes on today's Charlottesville Half-Marathon


There are those who might say it's dumb to try to run a half-marathon (13.1 miles, for those who aren't sure or don't care) a week after a (for me) grueling 10-mile race, which I finished in 1:48 (10:48/mile) at around 9 a.m. a week ago today.

That was eight minutes slower than last year, consistent with my general gradual decline as time takes its toll.

But I digress.

Just in case, before starting this morning I put money for cab fare in a pocket in case I ran out of gas out in the middle of nowhere and needed a ride back downtown to the start — I'm among those who think it's dumb to be aiming to run this kind of distance so soon after a long race.

For sure, I've never, ever tried anything remotely like this double, always allowing months for recovery after marathons or half-marathons or even 10-milers before attempting another long race.

But hey, that's the fun of it, isn't it, seeing what happens?

Long — but surprisingly pleasant story – short: I finished today's half in 2:26:38, an average of of 11:17/mile, on a pretty darn hilly course.

Perfect day for a race, 44° at the 6:30 a.m. start.

It was dark outside when I left the house at 5:30, admittedly early but who knew what parking would be like?

Turned out to be a non-issue.

I went out too fast as is my wont, hoping to run 11-minute miles but instead doing each of the first two in 10:25; I soon straightened out and flew right, hitting mile 4 at 44 minutes even.

My time was 77:30 at mile 7 (11:05/mile), and I felt pretty good, but nevertheless I was more than happy to walk a minute or two at the water stops at miles 8 and 10, ditching my second layer, by then soaked through with sweat, at mile 11 on a bike rack somewhere.

Nice shirt, too, a grey henley from Duluth Trading.

But I digress again.

Absent the sweaty shirt, and with my wind shell stuffed in the back of my shorts and my headband wrapped around my forearm, I felt liberated and fast, and stepped up my pace for the final 1.1 miles, finishing them in 9:58 (9:04/mile, felt good).

So evidently I was plenty strong enough a week after the 10-miler.

From here on, random observations 'cause I'm a bit knackered as I write this, about 15 minutes before the post went up.

• I felt badly when I spit on the road around mile 5 only to have a guy really booking it on the return loop and running barefoot step right on the wet spot. But I got over it pretty quickly.

• When the lead runners came back around on the return loop heading towards me, with police motorcycles fore and aft amid flashing red, white, and blue lights with engines roaring, I thought, "How fun must that be, running with that kind of an escort?" Never gonna happen.*

• The only song I listened to (on my iPod) more than once was the Statler Brothers' "Flowers on the Wall," maybe four or five times during mile 8. Mos def one of my top 10 all-time favorites. It's a funny thing: up to about 10 years ago, I had disdain and contempt for runners who listened to music while running. Now that I'm slower and older, I can't imagine running distances like today without music. Just too difficult and painful sans the wonderful distraction.

• I was startled at the end, shuffling around my car in the Omni Hotel parking lot, to hear tons of sirens and wailing — I wondered if someone had had a stroke or heart attack at the finish and I knew it wasn't me — only to look over there and see that the MARATHON winner was approaching the finish line, about 10 minutes after I finished my half. Puts things in perspective.

• Around 12:30 p.m., when I was making my way back to my car from Christian's Pizza on the downtown mall (below, a slice of his mushroom and bacon) —


highly recommended whether or not you've just run a half-marathon — I saw flashing lights again: three police motorcyles who were providing an escort for the final runner on the course, a young woman finishing in about six hours. *So there is a way for me to have motorcycles accompany me....

• Next distance race up is the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon on May 6, four weeks from tomorrow.With a month to recover and train properly, I do believe a sub-10-minute-mile pace (under 2:11) is within reach there. Having done 2:14 in Williamsburg on February 26, I know I'm within shouting distance.

Pictured up top is my magnificent Gray Cat — muse, running guru, and coach; she appears pleased with my effort and swag but that may be deceiving — it could well be because she's assured of her late afternoon canned tuna snack.

April 7, 2012 at 05:01 PM | Permalink


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Bravo! Congrats! And thanks for the photo of the ever lovely Gray Cat.

Posted by: Becs | Apr 9, 2012 5:23:56 AM

i like Duluth Trading too

Posted by: sherlock | Apr 8, 2012 9:45:42 PM


Posted by: tamra | Apr 8, 2012 4:43:57 AM

Well done.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Apr 7, 2012 10:17:28 PM

Congratulations for your effort. Do it while you can.

Posted by: Kay | Apr 7, 2012 7:18:25 PM

Gray Cat just gets purtier and purtier - must be all that luuuuv.

Posted by: Flautist | Apr 7, 2012 6:03:14 PM

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