Have you ever seen one of those simple oval bumper stickers that just have "13.1" in it?
I'd never noticed them until Sunday afternoon in Phoenix...
...this past Sunday afternoon, after I RAN MY FIRST HALF-MARATHON!!!
AND...it was fun. I certainly did not do it for competitive reasons. I was fourthousand-somethingth out of over 19,000 half-marathoners...but very pleased that I clocked in at just under two hours on my first try!
In fact, I had just registered for it only a week-and-a-half ago.
As you can tell--it took a long time to get out of the starting-area...so long, (almost half-an-hour!) that by the time I actually started running, I had to go to the bathroom.
So I did what all the advice says NOT to do--I sprinted at the beginning. You're supposed to take it nice and easy, saving up fuel for later in the race, but I knew that I needed to make it to the first porta-potty station pronto...So I was weaving in and out of the crowd for the first mile-and-a-half, and I looked down and noticed on my watch (one of those runners' GPS things; my wife got it for me) that my pace was a 5:30 mile--I have NEVER run that fast! I sprinted to the row of blue toilets--STOPPED my watch-timer--answered nature--and then re-started my watch as I sprinted back to the join the sea of runners, hoping that I hadn't 'burned' too much too early...
And so, due to that first (and only) bathroom break, my 'official chip time' is two minutes slower than what my watch time says--but I am sticking to my watch: 1:58.
(despite the blurred face and bib number--this IS me;
indulge me in my semi-anonymity--I am not a facebooker...)
If you can make out the course map below, you'll see that every mile-and-a-half or so along the course--both for the marathoners and the half-marathoners--there are rock-bands set up in addition to tables of water, sports-drinks, and about 2/3 of the way, 'GU' nutrition gel...The music was a nice addition--already, the adrenalin cloud from the 19,000 runners is heady, but the rock bands are a nice spaced-out audio-motivator...
I even got a medal (!), and of course the obligatory T-shirt:
I like the graphic on the back of the t-shirt--
succinctly captures what's so nice about running in AZ--
sun, wide open spaces, and the desert vegetation.
Come run it.
Thank you, dear reader, for indulging me so far...so now:
Why a Big Deal For Me
- First of all, I now weigh 20 pounds less than when I moved to AZ three years ago, mostly due to running.
- I was a sedentary teenager--bookish and into music.
- I never ran. "5k" and "PR" were not in my vocabulary.
- I always thought runners were super-lean OTHER people.
- I loved hiking--or at least the idea of it, while living in non-hike-friendly eastern Georgia, but the idea of running was utterly off my radar.
- I'm 35 now--halfway to the proverbial, poetical and Biblical 'three-score-years-and-ten;' recent deaths of relatives and friends have underscored my own mortality...
- My father had emphysema and later lung cancer--after my early childhood, I never saw him run.
And now I know what the "13.1"-in-an-oval bumper stickers mean.
No, I'm not going to stick one of those on my car.
But this past weekend will definitely not be my last half-marathon...