Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Going Out

At the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon in DC last month, my training partner Lia and I were four minutes late in getting to the starting line which meant we got in among the plodders and walkers.  We passed the starting gate at just under five minutes into the official race time, which wouldn't affect our official (net) time but it would affect our placement in the race and our age groups because those measures use official (gun) time. (It was a beautiful day in DC on race day.)

We were late because we had to use the facilities and the lines were long but that gave me an opportunity to see how Lia fueled up for 13.1 miles and it was a revelation.  I had consumed two 6-ounce cups of diced fruit in heavy syrup earlier but Lia ate a baggie of dry cheerios as her meal of choice, although I suspected she had forgotten food in leaving her house and found a leftover bag of cereal in her car that she had meant to feed to her toddler at some point.  (Hustling to the start line.)

Once underway on the race course, we were immediately jammed up behind walkers four abreast and slow runners two abreast.  We swiftly quickened our pace and started doing what I call sideways running, darting from open space to open space and utilizing the grassy strip next to the curb to get around groups of slower runners, never venturing into the middle of the roadway where passing opportunities are almost non-existent unless we were of the sort to rudely elbow our way through the slow-moving pack.  (We had put in plenty of miles getting ready for this race.  Here is the start of our 11-mile run two weeks earlier.)

Lia followed me from spot to spot at this point because I am better at this type of work early in a race due to my being much more experienced in racing than her.  This was a good warm-up so early in the race because we had to start moving quickly to get through spaces but we weren't yet pushing the pace, and at one point I even called Lia back and told her to slow down a bit, to save her push for awhile to conserve her energy because it was too early to go out hard yet.  The first mile was a slow 10:04 because of the crowd, but then our time started dropping as we passed the 2-mile point at 18:22 (9:11 pace) and 3 miles at 25:59 (8:40 pace), now ahead of our necessary pace to break two hours.  (Our training runs had taken us around Nats Stadium.)

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