On Sunday, I ran the Orange County Half-Marathon. One of my colleagues at the U suggested I do it, and when we found out that Sarah was working (and hence unable to travel to some family events over the weekend), I signed up! Immediately, I got in touch with a friend from high school who used to run cross-country. She gave me some advice on how to handle the last week before the race.
I had intended to do some occasional long-distance running to help in the training. I did a 10.5 run a month and a half ago, but nothing that long since. I never got the chance to - I screwed up my back a few weeks ago, so I had to spend some time recovering. Still, I continued to train by running and lifting.
Last week, I slowly pared back my workouts. Instead of running 6 miles, I'd run 3. On Friday, I started carbing up. That was delicious! Pasta, tortillas, meat, mmmmm. Oh, and beer. Delicious beer. On Saturday, I didn't exercise at all; I let my body rest as I continued to shovel carbs and good sugars in. Sandwiches, bbq, sweet potato fries, and another beer! Mmmm
On Sunday, I had to get up at 3.30am to be at the finish line at 4.30. From the finish line, we took a shuttle bus to the starting line, a high-end mall called Fashion Island. While the rest of the racers showed up and the sun rose, I stretched, rested, and waited. The thousands of racers mobbed together, more or less according to their anticipated times. I guessed that I'd do the half in about 2 hours, which put me near the front of the mass.
At 6.30, we took off! One of the biggest pieces of advice I got was to make sure I paced myself, so I took the first mile pretty easy. At the first mile marker, I realized how slow I was, and I picked up my pace. I ran consistently and steadily. My split time at mile 5 was 45 minutes exactly. At mile 6, I walked for a couple of seconds to gulp down some water; I did that again at Mile 10. I could feel myself slowing down during the last few miles, but I persevered.
As the race entered its last mile, we entered into the OC Fairgrounds. Our paces all picked up, as the crowds got thicker and we knew the end was near. With less than half a mile left, I ran past a handful of friends who had come out to cheer me on. They had made a 'Go Vinnie' sign, which gave me an extra surge of energy! The last turn of the race was a sharp left turn, and there the finish line was, just 150 feet ahead! I got a final burst of energy, passed everyone between me and the finish line, and ran across the line in 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 00 seconds! I beat my 2-hour goal by a full minute!
Afterwards, I found the friends who had made the sign and Sarah. We hung out at the race for a little while, and then we left to get some breakfast. I was super-sore, but so so proud of myself!
If you had told me a year ago that I'd be running a half-marathon, I'd've said you were crazy. Crazy!
Photos to follow, when I get them