Monday, January 15, 2007

Back in Manchester

Phoenix is come and gone. All in all, a great trip.

A brief recap of the race, and the surrounding trip:

  1. The first day I arrived, I went to see Catie Curtis in concert. Totally different than seeing her on the east coast… The crowd was frustratingly sedate. Still, I enjoyed it. Catie is a good storyteller, and generally has an anecdote for each song. Sometimes they fit, sometimes they don’t, but I always find them entertaining, and definitely reminds me of why she is so good to see live. Prior to one of her songs, she looked out into the crowd, asking me to ID myself. She informed the room that I was in Phoenix, hailing from NH, for the road race. She then relayed a story of someone asking her on her plane ride if she was running in the marathon, saying “she looked athletic.” She indicated no, just playing a gig and laughed, as she doesn’t see herself as particularly athletic. (No one asked me if I was running the race on my way out… J ) That little shout out led to some words of encouragement from strangers after the show, which was nice. One guy identified himself as a Nashua native, and we had a little New Hampshire moment.
  2. The morning of the race, I went with the rest of the cattle into my assigned corral. I was in corral 14 out of 30. Waited about 30 minutes there prior to starting our actual run – I can only imagine how long corral 30 had to wait… It was an unusually chilly morning in Phoenix – maybe 30 degrees? – and I watched lots of people hopping about trying to keep warm. I managed to find a patch of sunlight, and parked myself there to gather warmth. Between that and my determination to soak in every moment of this, my first ½ marathon, I was fine.
  3. The mayor of Phoenix was in my corral. I saw his arms pop up in a political wave when it was announced just prior to our release, but other than that he was just another runner in tights.
  4. For some reason, Born Again missionaries decided to post themselves along the first half mile of the race. There were four of them, staggered two to a side, and positioned far enough apart that when one left your site, another one appeared. They were easily identifiable given their enormous neon colored signs letting us know that if we didn’t accept Jesus into our hearts we’d burn in hell (one of my least favorite approaches to making one interested in any particular sect). The first two people were actually yelling at us to accept Jesus, warning us of the consequences laid out in their signage. The last guy was simply wishing us a good run, which I felt was at least a kind gesture.

That whole part was a bit weird, and thinking about it kept me occupied for the first mile of the race. Why here? Why at the start? Was it because we were a captured audience? Do sad, empty-feeling people (which, to me, seem like the most likely candidates for conversion via the neon side methodology) enter into marathons? I imagine this would be a low incidence conversion territory.

Mind you, there were a fair share of deeply religious types running. I saw shirts decorated with “Got Jesus?” or “Running every mile for Jesus” or similar slogans. That seemed innocuous enough, and heck, good for them. It is when it is so forced that it feels somehow desperate.

  1. A friend suggested to me that I assign each mile to a person, which I did. It was a soothing exercise. Lots of shout outs to people who hold a special place in my heart. P got both mile 4 and the .1 at the end. J
  2. At the 10k mark, I thought back to the Tufts 10K that I had run with P a few years ago, and mentally noted the difference in my conditioning, and simply how my body felt. I still think back to the days of awful back problems and eventual back surgery, and the brief moment where I essentially lost the ability to walk (thank heavens for my fabulous wife!!!). Every time I run I appreciate the various parts of my body working in harmony.
  3. Around mile 8, I passed the pacer for my initial goal time. That felt good, and I knew I had plenty of miles ahead of me to methodically break away even further. My time was finally posted: 2:11:47. Works out to an average of 10:04 per mile, which is better than my initial goal of 10:15. Yay, me! My Nike+ thingy should have also provided me with this information, but due to my fussing with it in the early part of the race, I lost about .5 miles, and had to start the workout session on my Nano over again. After kicking myself for the next half mile, I let it go and instead stared out into the beautiful, red hued Arizona hills in the distance. That cured everything, and I was back on my way.
  4. All the training really paid off. I felt a blister coming on around mile 10, but as of today I can only feel a little bit of soreness creeping in. My quads might need a little extra attention. But my post race recovery was quick, and I wondered how others prepared when I saw them cramping up. People that, on the surface, look like they would be in better shape than me. Go figure. Perhaps just a bad day for them.
  5. I slapped a lot of kids' hands along the way. I have been one of those people that sticks out their hands and yells encouragement to runners from the sidelines, so it was a little like returning a karmic favor. Plus the little kids get a huge kick out of it. I heard a few squeals of pleasure after I made contact and moved on.
  6. I did it! I can’t wait to run again.

Next up – the Cherry Blossom 10 miler.

PS – the NY Times article on questions to ask before marriage remains on the top 10 most emailed articles. Crazy. As of today at 8pm, it is back up to #3!

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