A few days late but no one reads this blog so it’s not a big deal.
Anyway, Brooklyn Half Marathon 2009 - well, to quote Dickens, “It was the best of times it was the worst of times.” Which is a classy way to say that I didn’t quite hit my goal. I was close – in fact I was there – close enough to smell the sweet perfume of victory. Feel it’s pungent aroma sting my nostrils.
But alas. After averaging 6:14s through at least mile 10 and just slightly slower through 11, the sweater unraveled leaving me naked and alone. Here is a mile by mile account of the carnage.
GAME PLAN: Start conservative. Resist the urge to weave. Understand it will be a little slower but you’ll make that up fast.
WHY?: When the gun went off I felt good - maybe even great. I wasn’t nervous, anxious, worried, or any of the kinds of emotions that leads man to being anything less than totally awesome. I was a machine. A running machine. And someone had turned this mean motor scooter on to kick ass. So despite the fact that I was already behind thousands of runners who were seemingly out to moozy through the park at 11 minute pace just enjoying the fine May day laid ahead of us, I kept telling myself not to run like an idiot. Be conservative. Don’t weave in and out. Pick a line, find your pace, and stick with it. All rational thoughts and ideas, unfortunately, as we’d soon learn, when it comes to racing Paul Leone is not a very rational man. Paul Leone is in fact a moron. So when put in a situation when he’s behind thousands of runners who are slow, and annoying, and getting in Paul Leone’s way, Paul Leone’s reaction is to get past them. This is dumb. Paul Leone is dumb. But until I hit my watch for the first split I didn’t realize how dumb. In fact I still assumed my time would reflect the fact that I had held back and was boxed out a few times but hadn’t gone too crazy. I was incorrect with that assumption. 6:15. Shit.
GAME PLAN: Fall into 6:20 pace. Accept the five banked seconds and ignore the fact that I felt like a rocket with too much fuel to burn.
WHY?: I actually fell into pace at this point. I felt good and so I went with it. I couldn’t really count the first mile when it came to establishing what a 6:20 felt like so I locked into what I thought was a 6:20. I actually felt like I was holding back at this point and was worried I was going to split out high. I was passing a lot of people but there was no way of telling what they were doing so I just went with it. When I checked the split and it read 6:08 I actually said, “Oh shit!” outloud.
GAME PLAN: I wasn’t sure what to do at this point. Part of me was scared to back off because I felt really comfortable and I was starting to do math. Get out of the Park with some time banked at I can coast. But the more rational side wanted to back off.
WHY?: This was a mathamatical error more than anything. I hit the split when I saw the mile marker for mile 6 which was for the second loop. I looked down and it was at 4:11 and it took a second but I realized the mistake. So now my timing is all thrown off and when I finally found the four mile marker and hit I couldn’t remember the first split to do the math. I had no idea if I’d speed up or backed off.
GAME PLAN: Go with it. You feel great. You’re downhill. What could go wrong now?
WHY? Oh shit. That was bad.
GAME PLAN: Danger Will Rodgers. BACK OFF THE GAS.
WHY?: In retrospect this was my most logical mile. I told myself to back off, I backed off. There was some uphill that helped this out, but it was a very conscious effort to slow down. Unfortunately I backed off too much and the +14 made me panic a little. I’d built up a cushion and eroded it with a single slow split. In my mind I was back to even. But that’s fine because I’m going to neg split the race anyway. Right?
GAME PLAN: Find 6:20.
WHY?: Yay! It took 6 miles but I found pace.
GAME PLAN: I’m past half way, I’m heading downhill, the hard part is behind me, I’m about to hit the “easiest” part of the course, I feel great, I’m cruising.
WHY?: Why is a great question. I have no response to that. Why? I just felt really good. I was totally on cruise control. I think I had a few good songs on the playlist? Whatever. Dumb.
GAME PLAN: Take my gel, slow down, use the banked seconds and just cruise in with 6:30s. At this point I was really thinking I had this in the bag. I’d done it. Dumb.
WHY?: There 6:08s are pretty annoying in retrospect. I think in a perfect world that is my half pace because when all is said and done that’s what I kept falling into. But when I hit it this time I started to freak and do math really quick. What did I have banked? How slow could I go? I was going to fall apart wasn’t I? Where are the freakin water tables?
GAME PLAN: Slow down.
WHY?: I had a ton of time to give, I need to slow down. I just need to cruise in. I’m not going 1:21 so don’t try. I don’t need 1:21, I need 1:23. Just slow down. Where’s the next water stop?
GAME PLAN: Just keep doing what you just did. That was perfect but go slower.
WHY?: I could feel that I was starting to slip a little but this mile still felt strong. 6:34 was perfect. I can even back off a little more maybe?
GAME PLAN: Oh shit I’m starting to fall apart. Hold it together. 6:40s will get you home. Hell, you might even be able to get by with a little slower.
WHY?: It was about half way through this mile that I realized I was fucked. I was hoping something would kick in but I was fading faster than a fat chick’s resolve in Crumbs Bakery. Still had +22 seconds going into mile 12.
GAME PLAN: Hold on for dear life.
It was over at this point. I knew it. I was completely out of gas at this point and getting passed like a moped on I95. I kept thinking that I just wasn’t mentally strong enough and I should be able to will two miles but there was no giddy up. I tried to surge but there was just nothing in the tank. I looked at my watch and it said I’d only been running the mile for 1:23 – how is that even possible. I ran for a few more minutes and looked again and it was only 1:53. Did I accidently hit the split? What’s going on? How is it possible this mile is so fricken long? Why is god doing this to me? This was no longer a race so much as a test of will. I would finish this race. I would not walk. I would not stop. I just needed to limp in and take solace in that fact.
GAME PLAN: Will this race ever end? Seriously? Where is the fucking finish? How is it possible that it’s taking that long to get there?
RESULT: 13 - 8:24, .1 - :49
WHY?: Plan and simple I ran out of gas. I’ve never had it happen because it was my second half and the first time my training ran out before my fuel. This time it was 100% the fact that I wasn’t fueled properly. I should have taken a gel before the race, one at 5 and one at 8. But by the time I crossed the line I could barely walk. It literally took 12 minutes to get from the finish to the post race, and I was asked twice if I was OK. Once I got some Gatorade and an apple I was right as rain, but the lack during the race killed me.