Saturday, June 17, 2017

Red Fern Half

I ran the Red Fern Half Marathon this morning--even though it was on pavement--even though it did not have much in the way of hills--but I just needed a good structured run that I would be committed enough to run at a decent pace. My usual Saturday and Sunday runs at a leisurely pace, and I m good with that. I have consistently run enough miles, and the extra time-on-my-feet is a bonus. The forecast for the day had heat advisories plastered all over every newscast in the state boasting 111-degree heat indexes. Heat training is a good thing if it doesn't kill you, and I did not feel it was my time to die today.

I got there early--a rare feat for me, and chatted it up with some friends. I parked 6/10 of a mile away, and after I got my packet, I had to hot-foot it back to my truck to drop off my race shirt, so I had about 1.8 miles on my legs to start the race. 
Miles 1-5.5
My legs felt heavy and if I listened to my body, I would have quit after a half mile, but I knew that I would get loose and relaxed and the running would come. 2.3 miles later after ascending 144 feet a nice gradual incline) I turned a corner and was treated to few miles of gradual descent. I passed a few folks and played leap frog with a few as well. From the start of the race, the sound of a distant rumble of thunder could be heard. It started sprinkling at mile 4, and by mile 5, it had turned into a steady moderately heavy rain. I was surprised to see it rain at all. I do not think it was in the forecast. My neoprene water bottle cover was reassigned to protect my iPhone from getting soaked. At the mile 5 aid station, I snagged a plastic bag that paper cups were packed in, and made a waterproof cover. No pictures, texts, or phone calls for the rest of the day.

Miles 5.5-10.5
This stretch was my least favorite. On a clear day, his would be a boring road. It's a 4-lane loop that bypasses Tahlequah. It gives people who need to get to NSU or to the other side of the city in a hurry without hitting every stop sign and red light in town. Lucky for us, they had coned off one lane so we had a lane and a wide shoulder to do this out and back on. The long trip quite interesting and a little frightening. This 2.5 mile out was a steady uphill, and the ever-changing wind was blowing hard mostly in our face, and it really picked up. The cloud to cloud lightning was now jolting the ground--making the hairs on my arms stick up, and some strikes seemed like less than a mile away. The rain quadrupled, and little bits of hail was mixed in with it. Then the wind speed doubled and then doubled again. The horizontal rain stung bare skin and the BB sized hail felt like it was impaling me. I expected to see blood streaming down my arms and legs from the little bits of hail. I pulled my hat way down over my face and down the left side on my face. I've been out in 40-50 mph winds and even in 70 mph winds once. This felt more powerful than anything I'd ever experienced, and I am certain it had to be at least 7 mph. I just kept my head down and stared at the road beneath my feet. after what seemed like an eternity, I reached the turn-around and started back what was a long gradual downhill and this insane wind was at least for a while at our back. No one takes pictures of rain such as this. Why?? The pictures never turn out to be as impressive and intimidating as they really are. And, no one wants to get their camera wet. I tried to find a good google pic, but there were none that compared t what we ran through.

I had caught up with Roger Yandell, who stopped his race for a while to protect a young boy maybe 
7-8 years old from the stinging rain, hail, and the wind. Roger used his body to shield the boy and assured him that they were going to be ok. The boy stopped and waited in a police car for his mom to come get him, so Roger and I kicked it up a notch.About the time we got off the bypass, the rain lets up. 

Miles 10.5 to the finish
Mostly downhill except for one short incline at mile 11 where we climbed 90'. My insole on my right foot was desperately trying to stage an escape. I stopped to put it back where it belonged but it crept right back out. Finally, I grabbed it and pulled it out. So, with two loose wet shoes, and one with no insole, I ran the last 3 miles hard--at 90% effort. Roger and I passed a lot of runners most of which were almost in shock for having endured the harsh weather. I had been carrying my glasses since it started raining, and had no idea as to what our time might be. I was expecting a 3:30 or maybe a little better, but to my surprise, I turned the last corner and ran toward the finishing mat, I saw the clock was ticking off the final minute before 3 hours. So I finished in 2:59 and change gun time and 2:58:57 by the chip. Running with Roger was a big help.

I/m not sure how many people (if any) dropped. This was a race that the runners will never forget. With the super-charged lightning, sheets of sideways rain,  high-speed wind, and hail--it was a race to remember. Major congrats to everyone who endured.

No comments:

Post a Comment