Monday, May 29, 2017

May Half: Geist Half-marathon

For number 5 in my half-marathon-a-month quest, I selected the 10th Geist Half-Marathon in Noblesville, IN, completing the Hamilton Country Trifecta that I just made up (Sam Costa, Carmel, Geist).

"Why Geist?" you may ask. "Why not the Mini*?"

I've done the mini... so many times. I'd never done Geist.

Besides, Geist was on my birthday!

So began a series of poor decisions that led to my second slowest half so far this year.

Running a half on my birthday really did seem like a good idea, a great way to celebrate a life well lived, and to kick-off yet another great year.

Problem was, I didn't think it through.

Had I thought it through I would have realized that to run this particular half on my birthday, I would have to get up up at 5:30am... on my birthday.

So I signed up. And I got up. At 5:30. That was after staying up, playing Mario Cart, waiting for my son to get off work... you know, the usual way to kick off a birthday weekend.

Once up, though seriously too soon, I slipped into my race duds, pulled on my shoes, and lumbered out the door for the 30 minute drive to the race.

Parking for Geist is, uhm... how can I put this delicately?... a pain in the ass.

There's zero parking near the start. As I got into the area, with cars darting all over the place looking for a spot, I dove into the first open place I saw.

As I got out, and pinned on my number, I looked around for some sign of the start. There wasn't one, nothing, other than a thin stream of people in shorts all walking in the same direction, like ants to some unseen discarded apple core.

Turned out to be just under a mile, a chilly, overcast, windy mile, from the start. Great conditions for running, not so great for walking, especially when dressed for, you know, a run.

Having joined the parade, trekking to where I had to assume the start was, I saw dozens of parking spots WAY closer than a mile from the start. I didn't so much mind the walk, that walk, but it filled me with a bit of dread thinking about walking all this way back after the race, sweaty, cold, and tired.

With the start finally in sight, I thought it'd be good to jog a bit, get the blood flowing.

The first step of that jog made it was clear I'd made yet another poor decision, this one 2 days earlier.

While in Palo Alto for work, I got to cover one of the classic Silicon Valley running routes, the Stanford Radio Telescope loop, and by loop, I mean steep, punishing, long climb and brutal descent. My quads, and my glutes, were fried after the run, and not much better this race morning.

Stanford Radio Telescope, and me. I'm on the right
Immediately, seriously... at that very moment, I knew that running under 2 hours on this hilly (for Central Indiana) course, was not gonna happen. I did not have the legs for it. Those legs were back in Palo Alto.

And I was ok with that... I would easily trade a meaningless goal for an epic, gorgeous run, any time.

View of Palo Alto from the tippy top.
So it was clear... this race was not gonna be a race, it was gonna be a training run. Cool by me.

One thing I did get right was fluids. I drank a good amount of water on the way to the race, so I was topped off. Actually a bit overflowing. So I had to hit the "Blue Brigade"... the row of porta-potties. A short line, quick whiz, and I was set.

I found my corral, tried to stretched my quads. They laughed at me. Before I knew it the race was on.

About a mile in, I realized the last, and perhaps my biggest mistake in preparing for this race.

Those paying very close attention may know what that mistake was. Here are a couple hints:
- I woke up at 5:30a, threw on my clothes and left...
- I popped into the porta-john for a quick whiz...

See anything missing?...

It was very apparent at mile uno that I should have taken time for a "numero dos".

I had 12.1 miles head of me with lots of rolling hills, and just as much cheek clinching. "At least it would be a good glute workout", I thought.

The course was lovely... rolling, scenic, with 4 crossings of the Geist Reservoir. And so many beautiful homes.

Trudging up one hill there was a gorgeous stone house, big without looking huge, perfect lawn and landscaping. "I wonder what kind of people live in a house like this", I thought to myself. And then, there they were... the family, who lives there, in their driveway, cheering us on. Turns out, the kind of people who live there are portly and not terribly attractive, but very supportive. Damn nice house, too.

Throughout the race, my fellow runners were quiet. Like really quiet. Back in the old days when I was fast, it was quiet, panting not chatting. But now that I'm further back in the pack, I've grown accustomed to a little small talk. Not today. Maybe it was the hills.

Despite my poor training, ridiculous run just 2 days before, and extra ballast on board, I was running smooth and consistent. My splits: 5K 9:22 pace, 10K 9:22, 10-mile 9:24

With the last hills behind me, stepping onto the last bridge, the finish in sight - not super close, but in sight - I cruised in, feeling pretty damn good. I smiled for a photographer, flashing him a 5 on one hand a 2 on the other... 52 and running (reasonably) strong!

Flashing 52 at the finish.
Turns out, I thought, it was a great way to start my birthday.

Finishing in 2:02:44, average pace 9:23, it wasn't a great race. But it was a pretty damn good training run, so I'll take it.

But, there was one last poor decision about to become apparent... after getting my medal, banana, and water. My biggest mistake was leaving my ID and cash in my car, a good mile walk from the beer tent.

Next up, Zionsville Half... a 2-lapper. Should be interesting. Hopefully I'll get up a couple minutes earlier to accommodate my "system".

Nice medal, sailboats on the ribbon.
If you'd like to catch up on the year in halfs so far, here are links:
  1. Jan: runDisney StarWars half at Disneyland
  2. Feb: Gasparilla Half in Tampa FL
  3. Mar: Sam Costa Half in Carmel IN
  4. Apr: Carmel Half in Carmel IN
Good running,

* The Mini, for those not from Central Indiana, is the 500 Festival Mini-marathon, at one time the largest half in the country.