Last Sunday I ran in the Cox Providence Rhode Races Shape Up RI Half Marathon.
I think I did it because it was the half marathon with the longest sponsor name I could find. Reminded me of the fun I had a couple of years thinking up spoof sponsor names for my sailing outings such as my Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker 68th Sail and my Oglebay Norton Flue Gas Desulfurization 69th Sail.
No seriously. The real reason was that it was just down the road in the capital city of our little state and I've got this crazy idea that I want to do several half marathons this year. I thought that if this one went OK I could probably do a few more over the coming months. Seems like a more healthy way to keep fit than spending six months training for a full marathon and then spending the next six months recovering from it and swearing I will never do another one... until I do. Like I did in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
It was a fun course starting in downtown Providence and winding through various residential neighborhoods into the town of Pawtucket... which is almost as good a place to use in the first line of a limerick as Nantucket. The organizers had cleverly arranged the course so that there was much more uphill running than downhill running, just like the Run the Reservoir race in March. No really. All the uphills were long gradual inclines and all the downhills were steep. Which is better than the alternative... I guess. So we did spend a lot longer running up hills than down. And the good news was that I felt strong enough to maintain my pace on the hills.
There was a pretty good turnout of spectators to cheer us along. It seemed like a lot of the local people who lived along the route had put some deck chairs on the sidewalk in front of their houses and settled in for the duration to watch us all slogging along. Some of the little kids held out their hands to 'high five' the runners. Some people had signs saying things like 'Go Mom'. One guy had a sign saying, 'No one has ever drowned in sweat'. As a prolific sweater I couldn't resist shouting out as I pounded past him, "I'm working on it!"
After looking at the pace I had run in other shorter distance races this year, factoring in the temperature on race day, multiplying by the old geezer factor, and adding allowances for undertraining, overweightness and general wimpiness, I figured that I should shoot for an 11 minute per mile pace. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was easily able to maintain a slightly faster pace and was about 90 seconds ahead of my target time at the 10 mile mark. Then I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that I was totally knackered (technical running term) and gave back those 90 seconds in the last 3 miles. I finished in a time that represented exactly an 11 minute pace averaged over the whole race. Exactly. To the second. Really. I have no idea what that proves.
I then went home and did nothing all Sunday afternoon. I didn't do much on Monday either. I did a gentle 3 mile run on Tuesday, went Laser sailing on Wednesday, and then did a 5 mile road race on Thursday evening. As I suspected, I did recover much faster from a half than I used to after a full marathon. I'm ready to do another. Maybe not straight way. But in a few weeks perhaps.
I know. It's really hard to write about running in a way that others will find interesting. Sometimes I get fired up about things that others don't seem to much care about. This might have been more gripping, too, if I'd kept it under two million words.
I think I'll go to bed now.