Monday, February 27, 2012

Wind Song: Hyannis Half Marathon (2/26/12)

Joan Benoit Samuelson - 1984 Olympic Marathon

Race: Hyannis Half Marathon

Location: Hyannis, MA

Goal Time: 1:31:42

Actual Time: 1:29:25

The 2011 Hyannis Half Marathon was a crappy day. It was just cold enough to snow; the ground was just warm enough to make the snow into slush. Afterwards we all huddled into the Hyannis Convention Center Ballroom trying to dry off and warm up. The course had been rough and I was out of shape. Like Sarah, I swore I would never run this race again.

This weekend I ran it again. (Sarah did as well).


On Saturday, I had been worried about the wind. Hyannis and Orleans had seen gusts of 61 mph (100 km/h). Doing a light jog around Somerville, the winds had blown sand and trash about in wild swirls that made me rewrite Sandburg in my head:

“Long ago I learned to run,

On an open road where the wind swept …”

I only really remember the beginning and the end of “Wind Song”, so it made rewriting it on the fly difficult; “Crabapples” was the better poem from that collection, anyway. The line: “Give these crabapples your softening gold, October sun…” runs chills up my neck. But I digress.

Fortunately the wind had died down by Sunday morning. Slightly inland at Hyannis Center, the wind was only breezy enough to cool the skin as a reminder it still is not spring. After a brief warm up jog of around a mile, I got to the starting line and tried to make my way toward the front of the race. This was completely hampered at the 8/min mile area where nobody would really let me forward and there didn’t really appear to be any room. Alas


The first three miles I really was feeling out how much I could really run with last week’s Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler still in my legs. At mile 3 the race briefly kisses the beach and the wind whirls sand into the eyes of the runners. As we took the right onto the beach road a guy sprinted into the sand around me. I realized he might be a Clydesdale, so I decided to keep my eye on him. Once we fought the bit of gusty headwind along the beach road I slowly pulled the suspected Clydesdale back. Within a half mile or so, I caught the suspected Clydesdale and passed him. He passed me again. Then by mile four I caught him again, passed him again ~ and never saw him again.

The longest stretch of beach road is along Craigsville Beach at Mile 7. We ran into the beach and I was leading a big pack. As we hit the beach road it became a gusty headwind again. The pack I had been leading disappeared from my peripheral vision. I looked back to see a line of 5 guys using 6’3” 220lb Jesse to block the wind. Bastards! I never find a 6’5” 250-pounder running my speed that I can hide behind. Coming out of the beach some one of the refreshed runners blew past me, just slow enough for me to consider to chase – but too fast to actually do so.

I stayed with the same pack until mile 10. At 10 I looked at my watch – 1:09:09. This meant I had to break a 21 minute 5K to still beat 1:30:00. I picked it up a bit (or an iota as my old track coach would have said. Not that he ever told us how much an iota was.) At 11, the guy in the Timberman 70.3 shirt I’d been pacing off started his long sprint and I set my goal to “stay near him.” Basically, I accelerated half as much as him and kept him on a cyclist’s elastic where I could get back to him.

The last mile was a build-up of speed. At each quarter mile I picked it up a little more. There is a turn right at 13 into the Convention Center parking lot. I was in an all-sprint (with a tough right turn thrown in at the end). Pulling in under 1:30 – beating my previous PR (2011 Johnny Kelley) by 8 ½ minutes and my 2011 Hyannis by 11 minutes. As I went through my recovery, I heard the announcement of Joan Benoit Samuelson’s finish – a minute and a half behind me. (Sure, she might be 54 and she might have injured herself a few weeks ago skiing; but, I still beat an Olympic gold medalist and USATF Hall of Famer.)

“Who can ever forget

Listening to the wind go by

Counting its PRs

And tossing old times away?”

SRR Shoutouts:

Aharon Wright, Carrie-Anne DeDeo and Kate O’Malley all finished with Personal Records.

Aaron Beer ran his third best half marathon, ever.

Adrian Bellando beat his last years time by 11 minutes.

Tino Pai!


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