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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Accidental Half

In retrospect, all the signs were obvious. I had suspicions from the start. I really should have known. It ended as it should have, the results were inevitable.

(It looks like Kenz is stepping on my toe. I don't remember her doing so.)

It was a beautiful summer morning. Perfect weather for a race. Kenz and my sister were running their first 10K, and I was running it with Binx. As we retrieved our race materials, we commented on how hard-core the other runners appeared. We are talking hard-core running gear: sunglasses, shoes, clothes, and several water packs stocked with H2O and Gu. It was a little intimidating.

With the sound of a single gunshot, the race started and we were off. The pace was a little slower than I expected from the runners, but I didn't think more of it. I was just happy to be passing them with Binx in tow. At mile 1.5, several runners commented on how impressed they were with the fact that I was running with the stroller. I smiled, wondering why it would be a big deal to run a 10K with a stroller, and just responded that the baby likes the stroller.

I had looked at the race route map online the night before the race, and didn't notice any significant change until we were coming up on mile 4. We had already met up with the 5K-ers at that point, and so I as I was being passed I was trying to be mindful of where they would veer off and where I would continue.

Remember this scene from Jurassic Park?

It was kinda like that.

I saw the sign ahead where I expected to go straight. The sign told me to go straight. However, no one was going straight and there were police cars which appeared to be blocking the path straight ahead. So, I turned with the other runners.

At that point I could not shake the feeling that something was awry. I put it off by telling myself that they must have changed the route last minute. The cops were blocking the way straight and no other runners were headed straight, right? But that never made any sense.

When I saw the mile 5 marker, I sped up for what I was hoping would be the last mile. That mile felt long.
Way too long...
It turned out to be two miles before I came on any other mile marker, and I knew for sure what I had suspected all along. I was on the wrong race route.

I stopped at the next aid station, explained my situation, and called Kenz and my mom to tell them I had taken a wrong turn and was now on the half-marathon route.

At that point, I had two options:
1. Quit and wait around for my mom or Kenz to pick me and Binx up.
2. Run the rest of the race.

I figured my race time had been shot long ago, but I had to have an idea of what it would have been. So, I asked what time it was and estimated. Was that lame? Probably.

Knowing I had time to finish the half, I wasn't about to quit. I couldn't give up, and frankly, I didn't want to be the guy who had started strong and then had to be picked up mid-race. Pride makes us do some really stupid things. That day, my pride made me start finishing that race.

I won't bore you with gruesome details of killer hills and fatigued legs. It actually turned out to be an enjoyable race and Kenz even arranged for them to give me a medal for my mishap.

When I finished, I learned that in the excitement we had somehow started at the wrong time. The 10K-ers started 15 min. after we did. Oops. Everything made more sense. It explained the hard-core runners and their gear, all of the congratulatory remarks by my fellow runners (who were all in it for 13 miles, not just the 6 that I was planning). It explained the slower starting pace. It explained why no one was going straight at the 4-mile mark, and why my 6th mile ended up the 7th mile of 13.1 miles.

At least we got a medal and a t-shirt out of it, right?

Binx sure enjoyed the race.
It helped that she slept through the first half and then sat back and enjoyed some Cheerios to go along with the view during the second half.

Our first half-marathon medal.
I almost wanted to kiss it, too.


Meg said...

That is too funny! Way to go on sticking it out until the end!

LPB said...

I have forgotten how great of a writer you are Ryan, I was going to just skim through it, but had to read the whole thing, what an adventure. I'm so glad your cute Adi enjoyed the whole adventure. PS I adore the photo of her at the top in the middle... well really all of the photos of her!

Ryan said...

Haha, you are too kind. I'm glad you were entertained enough to keep reading.

Shan said...

That's awesome! Congratulations on doing it! With a baby stroller and no training, I'm sure you still kicked mine and George's tooshes time wise.

Adi said...

WOW super impressive! You responsive in a crisis is much better than mine. I would have just sat and cried!

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