Friday morning around 9 I caught wind of my dad's Saturday race, the 2010 YMCA Mistletoe Run. By 10 o'clock I had decided I could squeeze a sub 20 hour visit in to Winston-Salem to cheer my dad on through his third, and what would come to be his fastest, half marathon. This visit would be squeezed in between rehearsals for the Asheville Ballet's presentation of The Nutcracker. Once noon rolled around, I was informed that I would be signed up for the race, and immediately started mentally preparing.
It was far too late for physical preparation as the race was less than 20 hours away, so I just attempted to handle the mental game. Goal A was to cross the 1:40 plane. My previous best half marathon was 1:42.02 set in September of this year at the Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon. Goal B would be to break 1:35. I started attempting to reconcile attempting to break 1:30 when I remembered that my body had not been training for a half marathon. The rude awakening came from my calves; they were still rattled from the six mile day Thursday, not to mention the two ten-mile days that preceded that.
Needless to say, this altered my expectations. I decided to resolve for simply beating my previous best and staying alive to run another day.
Upon arriving to my parents house in Winston-Salem, my dad and I had one goal in mind that would remain the focus of the next few hours for us: to convince/hoax/coax/sucker David (one of my younger brothers) to join us in the race the next morning. It took a lot less persuasion than we had anticipated to get him to fold. Though he ran cross country, his long run prior to the race had been somewhere around 7 miles and that was completed a couple of months before. He wasn't discouraged a bit though, he knew that finishing was what he wanted to do and all he had to do to finish, was finish. Say that three times fast...
Saturday morning we were up dark and early and ready to run. Calves still aching, I reluctantly pulled on my running wardrobe. It was a cold day; really cold. I started with sleeves and tights, hat and gloves, and ended up with just short sleeves and tights on. The route of the race was great, it essentially went across my parent's neighborhood, my former stomping grounds. A nice tour through Wake Forest University added enjoyment to the run, as well.
My goal was to run 7:15 miles. The first mile flew by in about 7 minutes, I had intended for that one to be about 7:30. Getting caught in the crowd can prove detrimental to one's timing. The next couple of miles were right at 7:15. By mile six, however I had been running for 42 minutes, which meant that I had dropped back down to at least 7 minute miles. At mile 7 I clocked in at 49:40-something. I think from this point on my pace continually slowed. My body was truly fatigued. I never found a very comfortable groove during this race. Typically, come race day I feel fleet footed and quick and light; but yesterday, everything just felt sluggish.
The 13.1 miles came to a close with 1 hour and 37 minutes of time elapsed. I was extremely exhausted. Apparently I looked faint as well. I heard a familiar voice saying, "Pre! Prefontaine!- Stay there!"(I had earned/been given the nickname Prefontaine during the race; some may say it was due to my mustache, but I will choose to attribute it to my lightning fast race[not]). This hombre led me to a suitable sitting spot and brought me some water. Gracias. Once color had restored to my face I found a spot from which I could cheer on the incoming runners.
David did an awesome job of sticking out the race. He finished in under 1 hour 55 minutes; a feat many struggle for months to achieve. As I hinted at earlier, my dad, Paul, set a new personal best averaging under 9 minutes a mile for the entirety of the race.
The race was a success by all measures, I'd say. David set the bar for himself establishing his first PR. Dad and I both worked hard and lowered our PRs as well. The biggest disappointment of the race was that all the snacks and drinks were passed out in styrofoam plates and cups. I mean- there we thousands upon thousands of these things getting used. Its a crying shame that they cannot make the effort to encourage more sustainable practices, especially on such a large scale. I don't foresee myself participating in this race again until that has changed.