Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 612 -- Race Day Report

I finished the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon. I'm pleased with my effort and with the result. I don't think that I could have run 14 miles, much less a full marathon, so it was a good thing to limit myself to the half.

I woke up around 5:15, which is pretty typical for me. Of course, typically I throw on some workout clothes, grab drink, and hit the road. One of the things that I hate about race day is the long wait for the race to start.

I decided to take the shuttle bus over to the stadium. They had predicted 8,000 runners, and had only 2,000 available parking spaces, so they were pushing the shuttle for those of us staying in hotels. I don't know about the parking -- it seemed like there were empty spaces -- but traffic was pretty heavy going in and out of the stadium, so I'm just as glad that I caught the bus.

It was a bit chilly, with a mild wind. But I've been training in chillier and windier, so it didn't bother me much. I surrendered my sweatshirt to the gear check team, and stood around for most of 45 minutes in my short sleeves and shorts. That did bother me, but once we got running, it was OK.

The start was fairly well-organized. The start corral was clearly marked by pace, and I stood between 10 and 11 minutes. The worst part was people who came at the last minute and tried to get to their pace. The whole 3:40 pace team (about 8:30 milers) tried to squeeze through from the back in the five minutes before the start. I don't think that they made it up to their proper starting spot, but I assume that they got on pace once the crowds thinned out.

Which took a while. It was very crowded at the start, and it was several miles before I really felt like I was running my pace, and not dodging the people around me. One guy right ahead of me at the start took a tumble when he tripped over a garbage bag that someone had been wearing for warmth and threw off at the last minute. Why they couldn't at least have made it over to the side and thrown it off the road, I don't know.

My first mile was exactly 10 minutes, right on the pace that I wanted to run. But that was mostly because people were holding me back. The next three miles were all under 10, and I had to fight to hold myself back. I consciously let a lot of people pass me between about mile four and mile eight. I think that that was wise.

The marathon and half marathon ran together for the first 11 miles. In other races that I've run, the two have split off fairly early, then occasionally come back together for a while. It was nice that you were always running with people on your pace, but it did contribute to the crowding.

The fans were great. The first half of the marathon route (the half that I ran) is kind of a convoluted path that generally sticks to the same area. So I kept seeing the same fans over and over. None of them was cheering for me in particular. But they were all enthusiastic and helpful.

The highlight of the race comes as the very end, when you run into Lambeau Field and make one lap around. It was great. I couldn't help but look up at the "Ring of Honor" featuring the names of all the Packer greats from the past. Yes, I did stop to touch the grass, even though they tell you not to.

I did finish strong, passing a few people at the end. My time was 2:03:30, which was perfectly satisfactory. It's just under the world record...for the full marathon. So if Haile Gebrselassie had run Green Bay today, I would have beaten him by about a minute.

Right after I stopped, I got hit with a wave of exhaustion and nausea. I'm usually hungry after a long run, but today I sat there holding a quarter of a bagel and an orange slice, and I couldn't even think about eating them. Eventually it passed, and I managed to eat. In fact, now, about three hours after I finished, I'm getting hungry (even though I've eaten quite a bit.)

I hopped on the bus and it delivered me right back to the hotel. The marathon route actually goes past the hotel. For a while, I could look out my window and watch people go by. The elites had passed long ago, and I was mostly seeing walkers and very slow runners. Now, even that's over.

Overall, it was a good run, and I'm pleased. I do want to run another marathon. I've got my sights set on Des Moines in the fall. I'll have to work hard this summer to get into shape.