I'm back, now, to finally finish the White Rock post.....only 9 days later, I know! As you last read, I was able to sign up for the half, and like a kid whose parent just gave into a candy request, I immediately perked up and bounced around the expo with a ridiculous grin on my face. How easy this run was going to be now! I thought nothing of my skimpy salad dinner (can't have pasta) and glass of wine at this great little Italian joint that our group went to that evening. So unconcerned was I, that I even used the complimentary card that came with the room for a second glass of wine that evening at the hotel bar. Without boring you with the details, the complimentary wine turned into a complimentary Widmer Heffeweizen (can't turn down a beer from such a fantastic Oregon brewery!), which turned into a second one of those (impossible to argue with a New York transplant Croatian soccer player!). So two glasses of wine and two beers later brings me to 11:45 p.m. and mildly concerned about the dehydration and sleep deprivation that is ensuing. Notice I said "mildly." After all, I'm only running the half. So I say goodbye to the generous bartender and new hotel friends to take care of all the pre-race preparations before getting into bed.
I beat my alarm clock up the next morning, wide awake and starving. I quickly packed my car, while getting dressed, fighting with the chip, and running water through the coffee pot to heat up and put in my thermos for a start-line breakfast. Twenty minutes later, I was across the street picking up a friend to head over to the start line. This was his first marathon, so he was nervous and excited and dutifully soaking in all the tips and tricks of veteran marathoners. For example, I showed him how to make oatmeal without a microwave or stove. For anyone wondering, you just pour hot water (hence the thermos of hot water) over oats in a styrofoam cup, stir some peanutbutter in, and put the lid on for a few minutes. I then use the end of a plastic spoon (borrowed from the continental breakfast layout) to slice a banana into it. A bit unconventional, but you must admit, resourceful, and we have the perfect pre-race breakfast right there in my car!
We then find the rest of our crew and head over to the start line. We're fairly close to the front because one of the group members is trying to BQ and the others are naturally fast enough to be up there. There we stood, freezing and closely huddled trying to block the wind while our friend announced all the things one announces at the start of the race and waited for the gun to go off. Once it did, we shouted out final "good lucks" and were off.
Unfortunately, I don't remember as much from the race as usual. I was concentrating so hard on running lightly to avoid IT band issues and trying to catch up on my water intake. As you can imagine, I started in a deficit due to the previous night's festivities. I was also trying not to be angry with myself, as I'm usually much more responsible than that. In any case, I do remember loving the course - the scenery, at least....not the surface. And the crowd support was really quite good. There were cheer squads, groups with motivating "Rocky" songs, and excited little high-fiving kids along the way. That, and my physical misery, pushed my legs to run an 11 minute PR. How's that for a shamelessly, boastful way to announce that on my blog?! Truthfully, though, the only explanation I have for shaving that many minutes off my time is that I was so uncomfortable that I just wanted to be done!
After crossing the finish line, I made my way through the food and water tent and then headed over to the beer arena, where I ran into a friend who had come down to run the relay. We cheered on the finishers for a while before heading out. I celebrated the end of the race with a trip to Whole Foods, where I sampled cheese, found some exotic spices, and made friends with the wine guy while waiting to meet some of our group members for a late lunch before heading north. There, we ordered one of everything on the menu (almost kidding) and compared notes on the previous few hours.
As it turns out, the only one of us who had a good run was the first timer. It was cold and windy, and we were all dehydrated (although not all self-induced) and crampy. I'm glad that if any of us had a better time, it was the newbie, because it left him wanting more. He's already looking forward to the next one! Me? I'll just toast to finishing this one upright.