Sunday, September 16, 2012

Air Force Marathon/Half Review

The weather was beautiful for yesterday's Air Force Marathon! The temperature was about 50 when we arrived at the parking lot about 90 minutes before the start of the half marathon. The full marathon started at 7:30, the half at 8:30.

Deb, me and Elaine at the start
of the race.
As we walked to the start line, we saw this year's featured plane -- the B-2 Spirit -- fly over the full marathon starting line. It was so low! What an amazing aircraft!

For the first time I've done this race, there was a security checkpoint for non-participants to get into the viewing area. Anyone wearing a race number could walk right in -- everyone else had to go through metal detectors. I saw some people being checked with hand wands!

As we waited for the start, skydivers came out of a plane carrying three huge American flags! It was beautiful! Later we found out that the National Anthem was sung at that point, but we couldn't hear it. That is disappointing because there is something special about being on that base with all of the military personnel and hearing our National Anthem. It makes you feel so proud to be an American. (Apparently, we were between speakers. Others reported hearing everything. We must have been in a dead zone.)

We had a flyover, too, but I can't remember which plane it was. (I'm bad at that.) Though it was great, I would have liked to see the B-2 again.

With the shot of a cannon, the race started!

The crowd was thick as we inched our way to the starting line. It took more than 6 minutes! We had lined up at our pace, but there were tons of faster runners behind us, and even more slower walkers in front of us. Somehow I missed the first mile marker, but at mile 2 our pace was 28:43. 

Around mile 2 the sun was pretty high and I finally tossed my jacket. I have taken that jacket to several races to toss, and it finally was not coming back home with me.

In this first couple mile thickness we heard this weird rubber duck squeaking and thought it was an obnoxious runner. Nope! It was a man pushing a jogging stroller with a person in it! The duck was telling us to get out of the way! We also heard people yelling "Make a hole!" but I wasn't thinking, and it took us a second to figure out we were to get out of the way. I'm not sure who was in the stroller, because there were two people with disabilities -- one person was pushing his brother and I think the other was pushing his daughter. I read reports from other athletes that said the brother had a wonderful time.

This year's half marathon course was changed. In previous years, there were a couple spots where the full and half marathoners merged and it was crazy. The new course prevented that problem, which is good news! Unfortunately, the new half marathon course is slightly less pretty. I can't remember specific spots where it changed, but it was different.

I felt pretty good -- OK, I felt GREAT -- so I tried to pick up my pace very early in the race. Elaine had set a mental goal of around 2:55, and I was hoping we could meet that goal. Unfortunately, I didn't figure out a per mile pace before that, so I was just guessing that we needed to be close to a 13:00 per minute mile. (My fastest mile was only 13:17, so I thought I had no shot at it.) Most miles I was around 13:30.

Early on there was some confusion. We were told to stay to the left, but when the crowd moved over, there were fast runners coming straight at us, so we stayed to the right. Then after about a mile we all moved to the left and the runners were on the right coming at us...

At about mile 5, I was ahead of Elaine and Deb, and finally caught up with a woman who was this race's "rabbit" for me. We started chatting, and she was so nice! Linda walks a 12-min mile 5K, but tries to stay at 14 for a half. (She had been faster than that this race!) She let me pull her along and we walked together until about mile 10 when we made a pit stop. I must not have looked around very well, because Elaine later reported that Linda was right behind me, but couldn't catch me.
Me and Linda after the race,
with her friend's finger at the top.
It is hard to take a photo with
an iPod when it is sunny.

Late in the race there were signs with "rules" leading up to the water stop -- Rule 1: Cardio, Rule 2: Double Tap, Rule 18: Limber Up... Yes, it was Zombieland! The zombies were amazing! My iPod was not charged enough, so I didn't take photos. Though there are plenty of water stops, it seemed as if a couple of them did not have enough volunteers. It was tight getting water and the volunteers were moving as fast as they could. They did a great job with not enough people!

This course is a little bit hilly, but I didn't really notice how hilly until near the end when I had slowed on a steep one. Near the top I came up to a wheelchair athlete struggling. He was near the peak, but had to stop. I will never complain about another hilly course -- walking up that hill was so much easier than what he was doing.

There were so many walkers in this half marathon, I couldn't believe it! I never got to the front of all of the walkers! I'm confident I walked much farther than 13.1 just because I had to weave in and out of people the entire course. This also made me think that there were many, many walkers who lined up too close to the front.

The finish line of this race is the best ever! You turn the corner by the Air Force Museum and you walk under the wings of all of those antique planes! It is amazing! Then you get your medal from an officer! (I know nothing about rank, so I can't tell you.)

Approaching the right-hand turn to the finish line.
One of the many planes you walk under.

According to my watch, my finish time was 3:00:09 -- my chip time was 5 seconds faster at 3:00:04. I waited for Elaine then we went to the food tent. The volunteers were wonderful handing us water bananas and Gatorade. I grabbed pieces of bagel and a small piece of LaRosa's pizza and we were out, sitting on the ground waiting for Deb. The tent is well organized and guarantees you will not go back for seconds so there is plenty of food for those who finish later. 

Though not as pretty as previous years, and though there were some glitches, this is still one of my favorite races! I will continue to enter the half marathon every year or so as long as I'm able!
The gray shirt had blue insets on the sides. The wicking fabric is light and
comfortable. The front is the same every year, but the back highlights that year's plane.
The same design is on the medal.
Pace per mile:
mile 2  28:43
mile 3  13:52
mile 4  13:56
mile 5  13:31
mile 6  13:26
mile 7  13:27
mile 8 13:34
mile 9 13:40
mile 10 14:07* pit stop
mile 11 13:17
mile 12 13:17
mile 13 13:58* stopped to take pictures

No comments: