Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wicked Half Marathon

I have averaged a half marathon per year since my debut in 1997 in the Bay State Half Marathon in Lowell, MA. Oddly enough, I have never run in a half marathon that was not a USATF New England Championship event. I ran in them to support my team that was competing against other teams from New England. Other than that, I never had the half marathon distance on my agenda. With the Bay State Marathon on my radar next month, I thought it would be a good idea to test out the legs in Salem today for the Wicked Half Marathon. This would be my second half marathon this year as I ran in the New Bedford Half Marathon (New England Championship) in March. Today's weather was a bit humid as I am certain the dew point was higher than the air temperature for the 7am start. I settled into 5th place immediately. The four gents in front, Tim Cataggio (Stonehill), Dan Princic (WRT), Mark Hudson (WRT), and CMS t'mate Scott Leslie were sub-5:20 pace from the gun and I wanted to fluctuate around 6:00 mile pace for 13.1 miles. I went through the first mile in 5:38 which was the quickest of the day. Soon after I began to feel a hot spot on my Achilles from the Lunaracer2 that I just began wear testing yesterday. They felt fine yesterday but were messing with me too early in the race today, especially going up hills. I almost dropped out of the race a few times in the first four miles for fear of making hamburger of my Achilles. All I could think of was raw skin, blood, and doom for the training leading into Bay State.I wanted to do a 180 and walk back to the start. That would have resulted in embarrassment running into 900 plus half marathoners, throw my pride in the dumpster, and leave Kristen wondering where I was as she was out on the course snapping photos.

I managed to make it to Marblehead after a decent hill and the hot spot burned. I kept going as it was not too bad when it was flat and if I changed the stride a bit here and there. Meanwhile, I was familiar with the route out to Marblehead Neck. It was a daily training route from my Salem State College days. Soon, I felt another burning sensation around my ankle from the velcro strapped timing chip to match the hot spot on the Achilles a few inches below. Good times. The only good thing was that the mile splits were fluctuating around the goal pace of six minutes. I saw Kristen several times as she was on the bike and doing her thing with the Nikon D60. Brett Rickenbach was on the bike and provided words of encouragement while exiting Marblehead Neck and heading back toward the finish seven miles away. I cheered several hundred runners now coming at me on the opposite side of the road on the causeway. Giving them support took my mind of my issues. The miles, intersections, police detail, and Kristen went by pretty effortless and without
dwell on the burning ankle from mile 7-12. My ten mile split was 59:37 and from there on in, just wanted to hold the pace. I got into the finish with a time of 1:18:28. It is a personal worst
in terms of
time by at least three minutes.
I owned fifth place the whole race and seemed isolated from those in front and those in back of me. Aside from a healthy blister, the Achilles was not as bad as I expected. I have a nice tattooed cut circling around the ankle from the Velcro timing chip.

Aside from the drama of considering bailing out early in the race and my Achilles burning up from the racing flats, I found that the initial posted had errors such as an erroneous finish time of 1:19:39 for myself. I quickly brought it to the attention of the timing table right at the finish line. Doug Bollen (pictured below with my finish line crossing) actually
had written down the place, bib number, and time that he saw on the clock for the top five men and women so I saw a quick resolution in the making so I walked away with his assurance that it would be corrected. Several other runners complained of mistakes so I am sure there was a bigger issue, even with the chip timing. The young lady in the timing tent said that she'd have a look at it. 30 minutes later, the posted results were updated with a 1:18:39, eleven seconds slower than the photo, Doug's recorded notation, and my watch. I brought it up again with the timing tent on my way out. Thankfully it was corrected when I looked up results tonight.

I am looking forward to running with some teammates tomorrow morning on the trails of Bradley Palmer State Park and Appleton Farms.

1 comment:

  1. I hate those velcro straps. I hope your wounds heal quickly. Looks like you've been doing some good prep for Bay State. Keep training hard.