This was my third half and my target was to beat the 2 hours barrier. The day started with 28F, clear skies, no breeze. Got to the start line at a decent time so that I had time to stretch and warm up (unlike the last minute scramble at Richmond). I was debating whether to wear the long under armor tights or shorts – eventually went with the shorts, the key body parts to cover were hands and ears and the nike gloves and the headphones worked out just fine. Anyway, the race started at 7 AM and it was still dark. The Sun rose at about 7:10 AM slightly after the first mile. I was feeling a slight pain in my right foot at the start of the race, but it eventually went away by mile 2. The course was mostly flat and went through many key DC landmarks and neighborhoods- Capitol Hill, the monuments on Constitution, Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Children’s National Hospital, Armory etc. The crowd support was fantastic – loved the fresh orange slices that people were offering (not from race organizers) and of course – beer!! Anyway, I was completely at ease by mile 4, the pace was set, heart rate steady and was overall feeling great and the 2 hours target seemed completely doable. The last mile was brutal (as usual) and crossed the finish line with the race clock showing 2:01. The overall net time was 1:58:09 and I couldn’t have been happier. All eyes on Chicago now.
I had signed up for the Richmond Half Marathon right after I came home after finishing the Harrisburg Half Marathon. I was on a high of finishing my first half marathon and signed up in an adrenaline rush. Little did I know that I will have little time to continue with my practice from then until 11/15/2008. I was in India for the entire month of Ocotober and did not have many opportunities to run long distances.
Weather.com predicted a rainy, wet and windy day in downtown Richmond. Thankfully, the temperature hovered around the low 60s and the rain was reduced to a drizzle by 7 AM. Getting to the event was an ordeal, the traffic was backed up getting into downtown and we (me and friend A who was also running) abandoned the car and our respective wives in it on Interstate 95 and walked/light-jogged about a mile to the start line to arrive there within a minute of the starting gun going off. No stretching, no pre-race regimens, nothing – it was the last thing I had expected how I would start this race.
Anyway, the race started and so did Sindbad Sailor on my mp3 player. All through the race I was hoping to finish gracefully and within two hours fifteen minutes. Somewhere around mile 6, I saw my timing – it was only 57 minutes and I was pleasantly surprised -a two hour finish time seemed like a possibility. I swallowed a pack of Gu and decided to make a go for it. Somewhere around mile eleven my legs started giving up and keeping the pace was becoming increasingly difficult, I realized I was slowing down and eventually crossed the finish line at a chip time of 2:03:39.
It was still a good 20 seconds faster than my time in Harrisburg. I was slightly disappointed that I did not make the two hours time I aimed for at mile six, but then realized that without practice, the above time was still respectable. I was 1275 amongst a total of 3516 runners who finished, 760th amongst all the males and 112th amongst the 227 males in my age group. As always, it was an incredible feeling crossing that finish line amongst cheering crowds. Aiming for a sub 2 hours time next time. Until then – RUN.