Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The second half

Long Branch Half-Marathon, Long Branch, NJ - Sunday, May 4, 2008

My second half-marathon turned out to be anti-climactic. Last year, my parents were on the scene, cheering me on (and spoiling me). I felt sharp and well-trained, well on the way to a marathon. I had nothing to live up to...any timing would be a personal best.

This year, several injuries later, I was Ms. Doubting Thomas. I was supposed to be running the NJ Marathon; instead, here I was lining up for the LBH again. I had a one-man cheering squad - DH (who, bless his soul, I don't know what I would do without - he has been such a steadfast supporter). I was acutely aware that my goal was just as much to reach the start injury-free as to complete. And I had run the 15K just 4 weeks earlier...it may be my imagination, but I felt I was still smarting from the huge a$$-whopping the hills handed me.

I had trained up to 14 miles. And tapered for a week. This was to be a training run for my marathon - sort of. I also secretly wanted to beat last year's timing.

The day before the race was less than perfect. After retrieving my race packet (this time, the OceanPlace Resort & Spa was not involved, so the expo was held in a huge tent on the beach), I cat-napped for 2 hours in the afternoon, and of course, this resulted in sleepless tossing at night. I woke up at 4:30 am, after 2 hours of uneasy sleep, irritable and wanting this to be over with. I let DH sleep, while I prepared tea and warmed up. And then felt anxious and nagged him all the way as we battled traffic. Man, I was such a ray of sunshine! In the end, DH had to drop me off near the start, while he went to park the car. I was afraid he may not be able to make it to the start, but he did make it - sprinting through the crowd.

I lined up by the 3:40 pacers, with the thought that I could slow down at any time if I did not feel comfortable at this pace. I am also a bit delusional. This time, there was a bigger turn-out - 8000 competitors in all, for the Marathon, Half marathon and Marathon Relay. I stepped on a few toes and was stepped on in return; struggling to breathe, I wondered how it would be like to line up for the NY Marathon - if you didn't die of fatigue from the race or having to line up hours in advance, you would surely die of suffocation or trampling! I had to use the porta-potty at Mile 2, which slowed me down by a minute. Was I imagining things, or was there less entertainment this year? Where were the bands? And it seemed there were less spectators about. There still were quite a few people about, though, and I appreciated it when a number of them yelled runners' names off our bibs in support. And the soap bubble blower was still around this year.

This time, I struggled to find my pace. I ran harder throughout the race and was uncomfortable and out of breath from start to finish. On Second Street, I heard my name being called, and was pleased to see DH there.

The final stretch on the boardwalk still felt as long as it did last time. When I completed, I was exhausted, and disappointed that despite my hard run, I had not improved on last year's timing. Oh well, I AM a year older. And I was glad to be done with this race and move on to training for the marathon.

Despite my ice bath a few hours after the race, on Monday, I felt like I had been slugged by a ton of bricks. The soreness lasted for a week. I was cheered a bit by the fact that my chip timing was in fact, better than last year's by a few milliseconds.

We now had our week in Costa Rica to look forward to...in 2 weeks. So, I shelved marathon training for the moment and turned the focus on hot springs, sun-soaked beaches and umbrella drinks.

Long Branch Half-Marathon, Long Branch, NJ - Sunday, May 4, 2008
Chip Time: 1:51:39
Gun Time: 1:53:09
Place: 622/3705 overall
Bib 7695

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