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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dallas White Rock Half Marathon 2011

On December 4th, I ran The Rock half marathon.  The forecast was for rain.  A lot of rain.  It rained most of the night before and waking in the morning about 5:00 AM to light rain was not very promising.  The radar looked like we had broad coverage, but it appeared that around race time it might just turn into scattered showers.  I had decided that I would not run if it was raining at the start.  No way to know unless I head to Fair Park to assess the situation further.

Other than terrible traffic, getting to Dallas was more of the same.  Shortly after parking, I got confirmation from my buddy Kevin that he was staying home due to the weather.  I didn’t blame him and assumed I would be turning around shortly to return home.

To my surprise it quit raining about thirty minutes prior to GO TIME.  I started to get geared up just in case it stayed fairly dry.  Minutes before the start, I headed to the start area.  With the temperature around 40 degrees, there was no reason to leave the car sooner.  I donned a cheap plastic rain poncho, but when the gun went off it seemed unnecessary with the skies clearing so I tossed it aside.

The race start was smooth and we ran a familiar route through the streets of Dallas.  My only complaint with the course is the numerous turns.  It can hinder pace and certainly adds distance.  Nevertheless, things were extremely smooth throughout.

Around the Mile 3 marker, the rain resumed.  Fairly light and looked like it could be brief.  Unfortunately, the rain continued all the way to the end.  Sometimes light with other stints of fairly heavy rain.  All the early effort to hop over puddles was futile.  Everyone was soaked through by the half way point.  I guess some had the proper gear with a Gortex or similar jacket.  I’ve never invested in one because I would easily overheat and rarely run in wet weather.  I’ll remedy this before my next event.

The crowd remained surprisingly good.  Not only did they think we were stupid for running, running in the rain was ludicrous.  I feel terrible for the numerous volunteers.  They hung in there all day in the cold rain.  Simply amazing.  I owe it to my running community to volunteer in the very near future.

It’s almost comical how I went from calling people wimps for dropping out to feeling extremely sorry for myself.  By Mile 8, it was downright terrible.  My legs were very tight and I was starting to get cold.  No matter how many times I tried to convince myself that it was less than an hour to go, I simply hated this race at this point.  Around mile 10 I started to get much colder so I decided I would speed up and finish fast.  Problem.  I could not get going much faster.  No matter how hard I tried, I could muster only about 15 seconds per mile increase.  Another problem; I wasn’t warming up either.

Ultimately, I reached the finish in 2:00.30.  Considering the conditions, and the extra .6 miles I had to run, I was happy with the result.  

Headed to the finisher’s area, which was inside, and took off my upper body layers to put on my finishers shirt  under my space blanket.  It wasn’t warm in there, but it was dry.  After a little food, a couple of beers and swapping stories with random runners, I decided I’d head to the car to really change into dry clothes.  Unfortunately, the finishers’s area is almost a mile from where I parked.  While I started walking that direction, I ended up running again to try and stay as warm as possible.  Other runners looked at me like I was nuts, but I couldn’t understand why they were walking.  It was cold.  It was still raining.  

Once I reached the car, I completely stripped down and put on fresh clothes.  Whew.  That felt so much better and the car’s heat kicked on to double the comfort.

A wonderful and terrible experience all wrapped up in one.  I think I’ll be stronger for having gone through such torture, but it was a tough way to end the weekend.  I just hope the New Year’s Double is DRY!