Missed this one last year and I am happy and excited to be back for this terrific event on a great course. I would very much like to beat my times from the two halfs I ran in July, keep an even pace, and have fun with the many people I know who are running today. Up at 4:15AM to meet a 5AM carpool. Thanks for driving, Paul. Great to have so many Oly runners here. Heavy fog that is borderline drizzle and some wind that will be mostly at our backs. Good for running, not so good for waiting for the start, but we are able to stay somewhat warm inside a hangar at the Gig Harbor Airport. Lots of Maniacs and Half Fanatics and I am wearing my new Half Fanatic hat.
Start - Bob Martin pacing 1:40, Prez Steve Yee pacing 1:50, Matt Hagen pacing 2:00. Who to run with? Ashley of course. We start just in front of Steve hoping to hold back some and finish strong. My PR is 1:40:23 but I do not believe that I can do that today. If all goes really well I'll try to catch up to Bob, but I am not going to push it early and risk falling apart before the finish. I will run my own race today, it just so happens that Ashley and I continue to be amazingly close in abilities and will probably run together for much of the race. She is stronger than me on the uphills and has better energy management after running low on fuels in the marathon (does not hit the wall as bad as I do), but I'd like to think that I have a faster kick and can hold my own with her on anything shorter than a marathon. If I can run a 1:43 I will be pleased, regardless of where anyone else finishes.
Mile 1-3 - Smooth start. I did a short half mile warm up and was ready to go off at race pace. Now we are on the Narrows Bridge. It reminds me of the time I ran the San Francisco Marathon over the Golden Gate Bridge. Fog, lots of fog. Temperature is good though and the wind is not strong.
Mile 3-4 - Up the big hill off the bridge and through the park. I remember to use my arms and shorten my stride. Pass Ron, who is still getting back to shape after injury but was very close behind me in a 5K not long ago. I could end up running close with him today. Boy that hill takes it out of me. Breathing is harder. We are passing some people.
Mile 4-6 - The loop through a neighborhood. Short uphill bits that get my breathing all out of whack. We lost time on the big uphill and it is rough going now, but we are holding steady. Sometimes Ashley is a half a step ahead of me. The GPS watch is great for providing info about pace, but having a person to stick with is so helpful. Without speaking we are able to communicate when we should make a move around someone. Working together without talking. Jennifer Seward sighting.
Mile 7-9 - Running well, but not sure that I am having a whole lot of fun. I have been working very hard since mile 3. I hope that I do not fade in the final miles. At the aid stations I tend to get a step or two ahead of Ashley but she catches right up. We run into Cheney Stadium and around the warning track. No Rhubarb to high five or hug. Working too hard to enjoy it much. But I am focusing on form better than last week, my mind is with the running for the most part.
Mile 9-10 - Still with Ashley, we have our little talk each inviting the other to go ahead if they wish. I have no intention of going faster yet. We have maintained pace since the top of the hill at mile 4, I am on pace to have a very good finish time, no need to blow it here. But as we get back onto the paved trail I find myself feeling better that I had since mile 3 and I do pick up the pace. I strike out on my own.
Mile 10.5 - Steepish uphill off the trail and onto the road. I wonder where Ashley is but I won't look back, that is a sign of weakness. I make the sharp turn on to the road and there is an aid station there, so as I grab a cup of water, I am not really looking back, more to the side. Yikes, she is right there about ten feet behind me.
Mile 11 - 12.1 - Flat road then down the steep hill. I will easily beat 1:43 and I feel really good about today's effort. Suddenly there is Ashley by my side. Great that she caught up. We run together again. I vow to not look at my watch, just give it a good effort.
Mile 12.1 - 13.1 - OK, one mile to go. I've had some minor right foot discomfort since about mile 5, but not too bad. My energy level is good and I can smell the finish line. I decide to make a move, strike out here and run the last mile pretty much all out. I grunt and really try to pick up the pace. Running faster and harder than at any time today. Have to slow just a bit for a wet steel plate on the road and then again at a downhill that is just too steep to run as fast as I would like. Now I am going all out. Not looking back, no one is going to pass me now. I finish strong and am very pleased with the finish time and my effort. Negative split time. My second fastest Half Marathon. Now I turn around and there is Ashley, a mere eight seconds behind me. I'll go around bragging that I beat her, because usually she is ahead of me, but really we are both happy to have run so well and its great to have someone to work with. My Oly friends ranged in time from 1:32 to 2:25. Most had smiles as they finished up and enjoyed the event.
Next up - I am registered for a 12 hour run on 8/15. Going to get a Summer's worth of long runs in one day. I plan to go very slowly with lots of walking and I do not need to be out there for the full 12 hours. Still I am somewhat anxious about it.
126th of 840, 13th of 40 in my age group
Race #204, Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon #2