After a whole lot of training of my own for the weekend - 10 hours and 24 minutes to be precise - I somehow managed to meet up with some friends and head to the coast to watch them run the Hampton Half Marathon. I ran this race myself last year - in fact, it was the last race that I've done that wasn't a completely embarrassing disaster, even though at the time I was disappointed with my 1:40 time - but this year it was not on the schedule as I have to wait another week to embarrass myself in Hyannis.
I have done more race spectating in the past year than I have I think ever. At least a half marathon is pretty low-key and easy to watch. It was also a beautiful day for February in New Hampshire -sunny, a slight breeze and temperatures in the mid 30's. The pre-post-race festivities were held inside of a hotel, so I had somewhere to sit and be warm while the runners disappeared for a while. It still feels strange for me to be at a race and not be doing that race. And in spite of the fact that I had gotten up incredibly early to squeeze in a 4-hour brick before I left, I still felt kind of guilty that I wasn't running, and like I was lesser than all of those racers who were there.
But anyway, at about 1:10 into the race I made my way outside because I figured that the winner would be coming across soon, and I was right as he appeared and crossed the line in a little over 1:13. It never ceases to amaze me how fast some people can run. The top runners were pretty sparse, and about at the time I expected came my friend Kevin, who managed 8th place in a time of 1:21. Once upon a time I used to do some of my run training with him. You'd think it was me who was the one in my 40's, and yet he keeps getting faster and I have gotten dramatically slower, but anyway... he seemed happy with his results, as he should've been. My other friends who ran were just doing it as an easy training run, so although under normal circumstances they would've come across somewhere between 1:24-1:26, they came in at 1:35 and 1:40, respectively.
In watching those runners cross, it always amazes me how fast some people can be when they don't really look like they are running that fast. Long strides, short strides, different body types and ages, you just can't tell by looking at someone if they are going to be fast. I was looking at the people who were coming in around what used to be my real half marathon time, 1:34, and I none of them even looked that tired, where I usually felt like I was going to die after a run like that. Then as the time ticked on, I saw more and more people crossing and they looked slower and slower. And yet we still hadn't reached what was likely to be my time for next week's race. It is still driving me crazy how slow I've gotten in such a short amount of time and how long it seems to be taking for it to come back. I honestly feel like I must have the sharpest, quickest rate of declining performance for any human being ever on the face of the planet who did not suffer some sort of horrible accident or come down with a debilitating disease. I feel like I am defying science. But what else can I do but continue to train and see what happens?
Anyway, after my 4-hour workout, watching the race, wondering what I'm doing wrong and finally getting home at about 4pm, I wound up going to bed at 7:15 last night, and I SLEPT. That is certainly not my normal bedtime, but I surely needed it in this case. A nice, easy day today of an easy swim and a 1-hour easy ride (day 7 on the bike, 7 to go) Maybe by tomorrow things will be better.