Palm Springs half marathon — another PR
I ran my fifth half marathon this morning in Palm Springs, and although they still haven’t posted the official results online, I know what my watch said: I ran 13.25 miles in 2:37:44, beating my previous personal record by just over three minutes. I managed to do that despite a few problems along the way.
Why did I run 13.25 miles, you ask? Isn’t a half marathon supposed to be 13.1 miles? Well, yes, but race organizers always seem to add in a bit of extra distance just to make sure the course is official. At the “10 mile” sign this morning my watch said 10.09 miles, so I was anticipating a finish at about 13.20 miles. Then at about 11.5 miles I encountered an incompetent course worker who directed me to turn off the course. I was not close behind other runners at that moment, so it took me several yards to realize that after I made the turn, there was no one ahead of or behind me. I stopped, looked around, and saw runners going straight where I’d turned. I gently chided the course worker as I returned to where I should have been, but I was not at all pleased at that moment. All I can figure is that he failed to see me coming and was trying to direct a car on the street behind me to turn right. Fortunately the driver of that car was more aware than the course worker and did not run into me. So I ran a bit further than others today, and it probably cost me the better part of a minute to fully undo that mistake.
There had been strong winds here yesterday afternoon, and when I went to bed last night the forecast was for those winds to continue through today. Fortunately this morning everything was calm. It was 52 degrees when I left my condo to walk to the park, and I was feeling reasonably calm and confident. My first 8 miles went great. I kept telling myself to slow down but I was powering through the hilly sections and ticking off miles at a steady 20-30 seconds faster than my planned pace. I sort of knew it wasn’t sustainable, but I figured I could back off a bit in the later miles and still be fine, maybe even be able to run the entire distance without a walk break. However, at about 8.5 miles I realized I was very tired, it was getting warm, and I needed to walk for a while. From that point on, I needed walk breaks about every half a mile or less, and when I did run, I was slow. I’d missed those two planned long runs during this past month, which apparently set me up to hit the wall. I decided not to worry and just keep putting one foot in front of the other, because I was still so far ahead of my planned pace that a PR was almost in the bag. And that’s exactly what happened, even with the off-course excursion.
I was running and smiling at the finish and even managed to raise my hands in the air and sort of skip over the line — or that’s what it felt like to me. We’ll see what the photographer actually captured.
I was surprised by the lack of support services at the finish line. We got water bottles and were directed to a tank to fill them ourselves. There was no visible food. Later I did see some food tents, so I walked over to them and found that they were charging for things like fruit juice that would have been given away at every other race I’ve done. They must have lost a major sponsor this year.
I was also surprised by the lack of spectators along the course. I think I saw one goofy hand-lettered sign the whole way. The volunteers at the water stations were unenthusiastic, and the workers who were directing traffic… well, you know what I thought of them. It gets tough, especially in those late, warm miles, when no one is out there smiling and shouting encouraging words.
After I stretched a bit and dealt with some unexpected leg cramps, I decided I might as well walk back home. Halfway home the wind came up and has been gusting ever since. The timing on the weather was perfect this morning, anyway!
So how did I do relative to those goals that I didn’t want to tell you about? I had three goals:
- Personal record — done!
- Run the whole way — not done
- Finish at less than a 12:00 minute per mile pace — well, it depends.
My official time is probably going to put me at about 12:04. My watch said I ran at an 11:55 pace for 13.25 miles. Had I not made the wrong turn, I think I would have shaved off 45 seconds and finished at just under 2:37, which would have given me an official pace of 11:59. So that’s two data points in my favor, and I’m gonna give myself credit for this one!
I’m very tired tonight, but I’m a slow HAPPY runner. I didn’t have a perfect trip yet managed another PR anyway. That tells me I still have room to get better at this.
This is me before the race start:
This is me after the finish. Yes, I’m sitting, leaning back against that tree, which is probably why I got the leg cramps:
And, in the great tradition of beer running, this is the “breakfast of champions” that I ate when I got home:
Overall, I’d have to rate this as a fairly awesome day.