Thursday, April 22, 2010

Virtual Half Marathon Race Report

Will the Real Gene Soboleski please stand up?
I hadn't really been planning a race for this early in the season (lie) so I wasn't really at a good point in my training cycle, but since Jamoosh tossed it out there, I decided that I would revamp my training plan so that I would peak for the Virtual Half Marathon.
What? Is this some kind of joke? I needed details, man. Details.
Q:When is the race? A: report had to be submitted by 4-23. check.
Q:What is the entry fee? A: my soul. count me in.
Q:What is the prize? A: Last Mile Brewery Shirt. HEEEELLLLLLLL YEA. "Dude, I am so in!"
A quick glance at the rules indicated that some guy named Gene Soboleski was to be given a 3 point head start. Huh? Another glance down at my ID badge revealed that MY NAME is Gene Soboleski. COULD THIS BE TRUE???? A: yes.
As my buddy Carman says, "kickaaas." Which is what I did. Please allow me the indulgence of
my race report......
Race day for me fell on a beatutiful fall saturday here in New England. I decided to warm up by doing a quick run to the top of the ridge behind my childhood home. The route follows a logging road that was there when we moved in, but had been further beaten down by our antique tractor, my dad's motorcycle, and my feet. A well worn path to just about the top; as familiar to me as the scars on my feet from countless blisters. (I really should invest in some socks from injinji). The crunch of the leaves underfoot, the sounds of the geese flying south overhead, and the sweet smell of maple logs in the wood stove were almost enough to make me just run around the woods and call it a race. But as our local bard once said, "But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep". (That would be Robert Frost).
At the airport I did some quick stretches and hydrated well with water and NUUN (see, even though they haven't come through on the sponsor deal yet, I am still not afraid to name drop. That's how I roll.) before I jumped a plane to Washington state for the first leg of my run. There is a blogger out west who has been a great inspiration to me and several other runners, and I just couldn't wait to do a few miles with her. She is a tall one, though, and my short stature would mean that my turnover would have to be insanely fast just to keep up with her. But keep up I did. She took me along some of her fave routes and gave me some really good pointers. I especially liked her advice about trying out a running skirt. hmmmmm.....But time was marching on, and I had only done 3 miles! Off I went, into the wild blue yonder....
To run in Alaska. Sounds silly, I know, but I also get some pretty good inspiration and vibes from this young-in up there named Jill. She is mostly a distance cyclist who loves
spending time cruising the snowy roads and trails on her bike Pugsly.  She attempted to ride the Iditabike Race on her bike (twice), and her heartbreaking story can be found in her blog archive. She does well out on her own, and I sometimes think of her tribulations when I am running. Miles 4-6 passed relatively uneventfully, except for the occasional bald eagle, mynx, and lost vagabond in a school bus....the air was clear, cold, and crisp. Reminded me of a nicely chilled pint glass waiting to be filled with some beer from the Last Mile Brewery. But I digress. I tend to do that after the first part of a race.

On my way back east I stopped in the lovely state of  Colorado to run a few miles with Beth. Her sense of humor and propensity to write about bodily functions made running with her something I just couldn't pass up. I had asked if she could pace me a few miles, as I wanted to do better in this race than in my last race. If you recall, in the last race I ran for an online event, I came in 10th in the world. I know, I know. I was surprised, too.  Beth, of course, was more than up to the challenge, as long as the route was secluded enough that should nature call......I agreed, and came well prepared with TP. Turns out we didn't need it, as her blistering 5:20 pace didn't leave enough time for our bowels to revolt before we finished at Starbuck's where I said, "I'll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon." And NOOOOObody got it. Losers. Jeeze.

Leaving the altitudes of AK and CO, running in North Carolina was a break I was looking forward to. Little did I know that my pacer for this leg, Thad  had something else in store for me. Seems there's a little race near the coast called the "Killer Dunes 2-Mile Footrace". Last year my family was on vacation there, and I missed the race dates by a month. Thad was more than happy to run me along the sand dunes. Have you ever tried to run in a pile of talcum powder? (Aside: if talcum powder comes from talc, where does baby powder come from?) Well, running in the dunes is probably a LOT like running in talcum powder. If I had decided to do my entire race there, it could very well have been called the "Half Marathon de Sables" (my apologies and utmost respect to those who have run in the REAL Marathon des Sables A quick dip in the waters of the OBX and I was ready for the final two legs of my race!

Since I was headed north and back to home, and since it was (now, anyway) the week after the Boston Marathon, I decided to swing into Bean Town and hang with Ryan and Meb. Here are their pictures, in case you don't recognize the names. 

Oh, and their idea of HANG was to do fartleks up and down Heartbreak Hill. Let me tell you, I felt like I was in the final scenes of Heartbreak Ridge. The boys were decent enough to share their masseuse with me, and I managed to hobble my way back to my car, ready and eager to get this race over with.
As with all good things, this race must come to an end (thank GOD). But this one wasn't going down without me running through the finish tape with my family. My wife, Tracey, our 3 boys, my sister, her husband, and their son all downed some good hydration, chomped on some shotbloks (or just Scooby Doo gummies?) and headed off on the final leg. We picked one with a gentle downward slope with a strong tail wind. we traded our shoes for slippers made of kool-whip, so as not to damage the surface of the course. To our specifications, the last 1.1 miles of the course were to be covered with Ben and Jerry's ice cream. It was the most glorious thing I have seen in a long time. We stopped every now and again to eat, often
forgetting that we were in a race. The family was so happy to be together, all sharing something that they liked. My wife sprinted ahead, but ducked under the tape so that I could be the one to break it. I busted through and fell into her arms. My legs were jello, my arms were covered in Chubby Hubby ice cream, and my heart was full of joy.

My only comment about the race organizer is this:
Jamoosh executed his Race Director duties brilliantly.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - that may have been the most miles travelled to run 13.1!