running small and tall

So, I went on a very short (2 hours) road trip on Friday with my buddy, Sharon. We went to Clemson, SC for the half-marathon race on Saturday. Still in search of my PR for the distance, but going into this race, i knew this was not going to be the day. Not yet.
Sharon and I checked out some of the course before dinner and saw that it was not flat at all. The course was in and around the Clemson University campus. Beautiful. Lots of green. There was no expo. This was a super small race. Fine by me. It’s nice to mix up the races between big, heavily sponsored races and low key races. We stayed at the new Courtyard Marriott hotel. If you happen to ever be in the area, we highly recommend. Super nice rooms, main lobby, etc…and a reasonable rate!

Being that Clemson is a pretty small town, our dinner choices were limited. We opted for Applebees and both got pasta. It was um…less than desirable. We may have fared better with all the snacks each of us brought, but alas.. we ate and moved on to the movies across the street. We went to see The Lincoln Lawyer. We were both looking forward to seeing it as we both dig these type of movies and I also had just finished the book. Great book, by the way. By Michael Connelly. I have read most of his books and recommend him for anyone who likes lawyer, crime, suspense type books. The Poet is probably my all time favorite and i wish they would make that into a movie! The Lincoln Lawyer was pretty good and followed the book pretty closely. Plus Matthew Mcconaughey and Marisa Tomei were pretty easy to watch for a couple hours! Next up: back to hotel and sleep.

Morning. Woke up at 6am and went down to lobby for coffee. Had my usual Clif Bar and chilled out while Sharon got ready to go. We found our way to the Botanical Gardens, the start location. I loved the small race atmosphere; limited amount of people, low-key. Just a bunch of runners on a gorgeous, crisp morning. 50 degrees. After a bathroom break and some stretching, I was ready to go.

I really had no expectations other than to do the best i could. In my head and aloud to Sharon I said, “if i finish under 2:05, i’ll be happy”. My body the week before had been a major stress ball. All work related and bothersome for me. It was a relief to be “in my element” again and to just GO!

While in the starting area, I heard fellow runners discussing how hilly the course was…i started to get more cautious in my thinking and strategy…don’t go out too fast…take each mile one at a time, etc…

Right out the gate, it was all rolling hills..small, but rolling. It was hard to feel or find a rhythm. I was surprised by my time when I passed Mile 2. I was doing better than I thought. We faced numerous turns around campus and more and more rolling hills. They threw a few steep ones in there also. For the record, I have not been doing much running on hills at all, so i was nervous. Yet, as I passed each mile marker, my time was still pretty good. Mentally, I felt very focused. Even as i passed some water stops, i drank on the run, which i rarely do. I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to break stride. Around half way, we ran over a grass lined dam with Lake Hartwell to our right. Gorgeous. I saw lots of crew teams out with their boats. That was always something I wanted to do; row/crew.

As we approached Mile 8, we climbed a moderate hill. Legs were getting tired. Otherwise I felt solid. I was focused and determined. Felt good to have this mindset. Sharon was there and taking pics. I was happy to see my friend there supporting me!

By Mile 10, I was at 1:31 which meant I had 29 minutes to run 3.1 miles and i would have a PR! I was excited, but knew i had to see how the terrain was gonna be on the last few miles. Mile 10-11, good. Mile 11-12, BAD! Man, probably the steepest hill of the day and there it is…mile 11. Yikes. Tore up my legs. Could not really push like I wanted to. The hill got me. It conquered me pretty good and I tip my hat to it. Mile 12-13 was a mix but  mostly slightly downhill. I was not able to make up the time I lost on the hill. I came around the bend to finish in a respectable 2 hours, 2 minutes, 8 seconds.

02:02:08

Still trying to break PR of 02:01:44  — damn, i didn’t realize how close I was! And on a hilly course! I pushed as hard as I could. That’s what it’s all about. Laying it out there. Gutting it out. For yourself.

Proud. Still hungry.

Gear Worn:

Shoes: KSwiss K-Ona

Shorts: KSwiss

Shirt: technical race shirt from Vegas Half-Marathon in December 2010

Arm Warmers: Nike

Blue Bandana

Watch: Origo Granite Peak

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One Response to “running small and tall”

  1. AWESOME! So inspriring!!! 24 seconds…AGHHH! You will crush that PR soon! No doubt!

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