One of my goals for this year is to qualify for the Half Fanatics club. Running halfs on back to back weekends is one way to get in and I will try that today and next week. This is my first race as a sponsored athlete. Believe it or not, Brooks Sports ( http://www.brooksrunning.com/) is providing me with running clothes and a serious discount on shoes. I have been wearing Brooks shoes since 2003 and will enjoy wearing their gear in races if they want to give it to me. I get to participate in a 2010 race series with other Brooks Inspire Daily participants and my 20 races so far this year has put me in 104th place out of over 800 sponsored runners. The series has a scoring system that rewards both speed and participation.
Today's race is part of a multi-sport event, with four different triathlons and three running races all happening at the same time. Good to see a couple of Marathon Maniacs who are doing triathlons. Bill and Tammy are here. We are chatting with Bob Martin before the start and he mentions that about four miles of our course will be on the beach. I had not been expecting that. He says that the sand is compact but one trick is to run in tire tracks if there are any as the sand will be more compacted. Its one of those beaches upon which vehicles are allowed. Four miles of sand sounds like a great excuse if I end up with a slower than hoped for time. Speaking of which, I don't have a firm idea of a time goal. I guess that getting under 1:45 would be good. I have not run a half in a year and I don't feel like I know how to best handle it. Also I have been nursing a variety of minor ailments, all places up and down my right leg. A few days ago I contemplated not racing today, but with a little extra rest, I ran fine yesterday and I should be good for today. Its gray, foggy, cloudy and cool. Will warm up soon enough. Half mile warm up before the start.
Start - Meet the first 10 moon Fanatic, Tamara Mackey and share with her my aspirations for joining the club. Line up near the front. 5K and 10K racers will start with us. Sprint, Olympic and Half Iron triathletes are at various stages of their races too, so it may be difficult to know who I am racing against at times. After about a 15 minute delay, we are given a countdown and then set out.
Mile 1.5 - 5K turn around. The more folks who I see coming back, the fewer that are in front of me. In another quarter mile we turn to a short road that ends at the Pacific Ocean.
Mile 2 - Loose dry sand down to the beach proper where the footing gets better. Find some tire tracks with one set of footprints. Bob is way ahead of me, but I think I am running in his footprints. Its not too bad, but not ideal either. Except that it is absolutely beautiful. I have never raced on a beach before. Clam shell or crab shell here and there but mostly semi packed and flat sand, a little damp.
Mile 3.1 - 10K turn around. One guy in front of me makes the turn. there must be about 6-7 half marathoners ahead of me, but they are just tiny specs a half mile down the beach. Amazing how fast they are. I wonder if anyone is close behind me. I take a quick look back and am a little dismayed to see a whole pack not far behind.
Mile 4 - Off the beach. My pace had slowed but I can pick it up some on the pavement. Mile 4 mile marker as I look ahead to a major road with bicyclists and traffic cones. Then I see that there are chalk arrows on the ground pointing toward a small residential road. Uh oh. I stop, unsure what to do. I can see about a quarter of a mile down the small road but do not see any racers. I suspect that this little road will go parallel to the main road and connect with it at some point. No one here to help me decide, and I know that very soon the pack behind me will be off the beach. I follow the arrows.
Mile 4.75 - I did take the right course as other cones and arrows confirm and I join the main road. Then it is back to a side street, this time with a volunteer to direct the way. Just a little farther I see two deer, one with a massive rack of antlers. I ease over to the opposite side of the road and it just looks at me. Then three deer appear on this side of the road, one with a small rack. They are beautiful and don't seem to mind me at all.
Mile 6 - Holding steady at 7:54 pace. That would get me in under 1:45. Fast guys coming back. Get to the turnaround myself and enjoy seeing the runners who are behind me. One runner had been pacing his girlfriend, now he blazes past me. He will run the next 6 miles six minutes faster than I will. Other than that I have not been passed and I feel OK. The course is very flat and the wind is mostly sideways.
Mile 8 - Tiring a bit. Now I have some discomfort in my right quadriceps, about the only place in my right leg that has not bothered me recently. I am able to run through it, but there is some minor stiffening going on with the leg.
Mile 9 - Back to the sand. Foggier. Tiring. Very gradually losing pace. Not like hitting the wall or anything, its just getting tougher.
Mile 10 - Lots of Olympic distance triathletes here at their turnaround. One halfer does pass me here. I am losing steam. Katie Robinson sighting. Remember to have fun.
Mile 11 - Back to the pavement for the final push. Practice not looking at my watch. I probably will not make 1:45 but looking at the clock is not going to help any. Just run the best I can. Don't have much kick for the end.
Mile 13.1 - Done. Fun times with friends and fellow runners. Course was scenic and accurately measured. Now a few gripes that would make it unlikely for me to return to this race: At the kids triathlon I saw two children racing with no helmets. Start/finish area was basically in the tri-transition area. Poor crowd control at the bicycle entrance/exit area, fortunately I did not see any crashes. T-shirts were to be handed out after the race, not with packet pickup. By the time I finished, I was told that most of the shirts were gone, and that I could fish around the table and look for one. Apparently those who registered late, but finished before me, got shirts. Additionally per the event website, we were promised a pancake breakfast and I did not see any evidence of that. Still a fun time and I do love racing. I went back to the beach to snap a few photos before leaving.
10th place of 80