Hail my running brothers and sisters! First off, congratulations to all my friends (who knew I had friends!) who used this race as their first half! It was a great day for a race, if not a bit windy (we'll talk about that later). So onto the re-cap:
Pre-race: I arrived at the course, finished my usual breakfast of pb&j on toast, and quickly found the port-a-potties. I took care of business numero dos, and then I went off to stretch and warm up. 20 minutes before the starting gun, I made my way to the port-a-potties again to relieve my nervous bladder, but the line was so long that I ended up running into the woods. Interestingly, I wasn't the only one doing so, but I was the only guy!
The Start: I looked around for a couple of my friends, and finally found them right before the starting gun. I wished them luck and trotted up to the front. The race didn't have a wave start or corrals, so everyone just picked where they wanted to start.
Miles 1-4: I did in 7:12, 7:15, 7:35 and 7:37 respectively. In my typical fashion, I started out way too fast. The adrenaline was really pumping, but I would pay for it later in the race. As is also typical, the first 2 miles lied to me and told me that I felt awesome and would surely whip this course. The course was still relatively flat at this point and was easy to traverse. Mile 4 was my wake up call to how badly unprepared I was, because my left calf started to cramp up ever so slightly (but enough that it caught my attention). Part of the problem was that I only got water at the drink stations. I didn't know where the gatorade was, so I settled for water (I later learned that they ran out of water at some which sucked for the later runners). By mile 4, I was so overheated, I also made the decision to shed my long sleeve shirt and ran baring my bronze awesomeness for the rest of the race. This also resulted in a number of cheers at one spectator spot, "Go shirtless guy!!!" I of course pointed at them and yelled back, "You know it, baby!"
Miles 5-8: I did in 7:46, 7:56, 7:44, and 7:51. The middle part of the race was a real test of my patience. The course became hillier and curvier. This was also when I discovered that the course was not closed off. Traffic was intermittently coming through forcing the runners to the side of the street. Had I known that the course was not closed, I might not have run it, especially since I was nearly run over by a cement truck at mile 8. The driver clearly saw their were runners on the road, but he didn't seem to care as he plowed on through into the racer's lane. I managed to jump ahead and to the side as he finally slowed down, but it really made me angry as it had upset my pace. Add to that, the wind had picked up and suddenly I found myself running into a headwind.
Miles 9-12: I did in 8:10, 8:55, 8:58, and 8:17. This is where the wheels came off and I nearly gave up. I had been following a long line of traffic, cars, not runners, and the fumes, the headwind, and the hilly course had all taken their toll. I was nearly whipped and ready to quit, but I knew that the end was close. So I did a gut check, mentally told myself to quit acting like a particular part of a woman's anatomy, and picked up my pace at mile 12.
Mile 13.1: I did in 8:55 and 1:14. The last mile was just about holding on and finishing. My left calf was tightening up, my butt was sore, and my right ankle was on fire. I limped over the finish line despite my best effort to make a final kick. I got a PBR of 1:45:31, 13:27 minutes faster than my time 6 months earlier. I headed straight for the vitamin water (which sucks by the way. Give me gatorade any day), drank it down, ate some chicken biscuit, and wandered around as I waited for my friends to cross the line.
My final impressions of the Clarksville Half-Marathon is that it was fun but hard. It was really cool that I knew so many people running the race, but it could have been better organized. The weather was perfect except for the wind, but that just goes with the territory. The course was challenging but not overwhelming. Now, I'm going to limp back to my couch and rest my ankle. Good luck and godspeed.