It’s not a very good idea to be standing in line for the port-a-potty when you hear the National Anthem play. I was the good little Cub Scout Leader by being quite, respectful, with my hand over my heart, but I had a little trouble stopping the pee-pee dance. The worst part was that there were still about 10 people in line in front of me. Mrs. PG and I, we met in line, she’s pregnant with #2, had a decision to make. Do we stay in line and start late or hope we become dehydrated before we pee our pants? Yeah, I guess good competitors never die. We totally went for dehydration and sprinted down to the starting… er… crowd. I didn’t make it to a bathroom until about 3 hours after the race was done.
Five minutes after the the gun went off, we began to move forward. Mini-steps lead to shuffling lead to walking lead to a desperate attempt to start running. I tried to stay with Mrs. PG at the starting line but I felt good and wanted to go faster. I guess it’s hard to develop loyalties after only 10 minutes in the port-a-potty line.
With all my tendonitis issues, I wanted to “sit” back and take in a delightful run through Kalamazoo. The problem was that I was running faster than everyone around me. I tried to slow down but I still kept weaving in and around people. A pacer was near-by me. I must not have been thinking very clearly because it took me a good 10 minutes to realize that I was near the 2:45 pacer. Eeek! From that point on I had my sights on the 2:00 pacer, yet, I would never find him/her.
The best section was clearly the down hill in the second mile. I must have easily passed 100 people. The last time I did this race, I ran that mile in about 7 minutes. I missed the 3 mile marker so I don’t know how fast I was running but I was fast. It’s something I’ve learned by going minimalist. I hated running down hills because my back would tense up so bad I’d have to stop and walk on a down hill. How embarassing. With minimalist, I let gravity take me down. By landing on the forefront of my foot, I don’t get that back jarring impact I used to get. It’s like running like a kid all over again. I’m sprinting down the hill but I’m not using any more energy than when I’m going flat. It was fun and for a few minutes I was really, really, really fast.
The worst part is hard to choose but I guess the bridge was a little worse than the hills. With so many of us running on the bridge, it was bouncing enough that I could not get my footing right. I’d step down but the bridge wasn’t where I was expecting it to be. You know the effect, but imagine being about 10 miles tired and trying to run as fast as you can still manage. I think that bridge sucked a lot of energy out of me.
I wish I had known the course better. I do much better when I can mentally/visually check off a list of landmarks. When I did the Chicago half years ago, I stopped to walk at mile 10, even though I knew there were 3 more miles, because the course did not turn the way I was expecting it to. The last time I did the Kalamazoo half, I PR’d because I was able to see myself pass the list of landmarks in my head. The course was different this year so I struggled, again, with keeping my head in the game the last few miles.
I’m very glad that during training, I had established that I wanted to finish strong. That I was willing to sacrice my time to finish strong. Fortunately, I’ve realized and cemented the “natural pace” belief in my head. While this may not be a good theory in the end for getting a PR, it does help you kick yourself in the butt when you want to walk. Everytime I wanted to walk, I said to myself, “Your feet are going to hurt whether you walk or run. Your legs aren’t going to be any different. Your lungs are fine. So, pick up the pace.” It wasn’t too long ago on the treadmil when I recalled that it IS actually easier to run faster than slower. When I’m below my natural pace, I feel like lead and I want to stop. When I push my pace up, I begin to feel lighter and better. It’s the pace that I should be at insted of restricting my energies by trying to go ‘conservative’.
As I came into the last mile, I was running next to Tatoo Sleeves. She and I had been going back and forth for some time so I was using her as a pacer. I asked myself if I was still strong enough to pull away in the last mile. Since I wanted to finish strong, I pushed up to that natural pace and pulled away from Tatoo Sleeves. Once I rounded the corner for the last 0.1 mile, I pushed the turbo speed. I grunted a lot but I sprinted that last section and crossed over at 2:10:49. It was not my best time, it was not my worst time, it may have been my strongest time.
I saw Mrs. PG cross the finish line about 5 minutes behind me and ran into her on the shuttle bus with Kid #1 in tow. It’s that strange feeling you have when you recognize someone on a plane that had been on the same parking shuttle bus as you an hour earlier. I think we both did pretty good as neither one of us stopped for the port-a-potty.