Monday, April 16, 2012

Vienna City Half-Marathon

Two hours flat -- not a second more, not a second less -- with Lisa finishing exactly one second later.  I had, somewhat flippantly, said to Lisa the morning of the race:  "so we're shooting for sub-two hours today, right?"  She didn't really agree or disagree so I figured we'd give it a shot.  By the time we actually crossed the start line, over 12 minutes had elapsed since the official start time (9:00AM) -- nearly 30,000 runners were ahead of us -- and aside from cloudy skies and a little wind, I was optimistic that I would feel considerably better than last year (especially since I was only running the half).  Usually when Lisa and I race together we start off noticeably faster than our training runs but after a few miles we settle back into a more comfortable pace.  Not this day, however.  Whenever I'd glance down at my Garmin, our pace would range from 8:30 to 9:10 per mile and by the time we'd reached the half-way point, I knew that a sub-two hour race was within reach.  (Disclaimer:  Although it has been six or so years, I recall my best half-marathon time being in the range of ~1:47 -- not spectacular but, perhaps, semi-respectable.)  Anyway, when we reached the half-way point in less than 60 minutes I said to Lisa, "We're running a solid race and if we keep on like this, we can run sub-two hours."  She halfheartedly agreed and we kept going.  When we finally reached Mariahilferstrasse -- about a mile-and-a-half from the finish -- I knew it was going to be close but I felt confident we'd break two hours.  As we rounded the last corner and began to sprint for the finish -- Lisa usually pulls away from me when sprinting -- I knew she was spent when I managed to get a step or two in front of her.  After we crossed the finish line and were corralled into a finish area to collect our medals, a bottle of water, and some fruit, Lisa asked, "so, did we make it?"  "I'm not sure:  I stopped my Garmin just as I crossed the finish line and it reads almost exactly two hours.  If we broke two hours, it'll be close."  When Lisa checked our results later that day and she audibly gasped I knew that whatever side of two hours she was on, it was dreadfully close.  And sure enough, 2:00:01 can't get much closer to two hours.  Even though we were somewhat disappointed -- so close! -- Lisa did, however, break her previous half-marathon PR by two minutes.  In the end, though, we ran a solid race and felt good for most of it and when it comes to running, it doesn't get much better. 
Dangling the medals in front of the cats:  so close, yet so far away.  A familiar sentiment. 

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