Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ocala: Cold, Hilly Horse Country Half Marathon

After returning to running after a illness-imposed hiatus (I have run maybe a total of 15 miles since the Goofy challenge in small increments), I finally had my "break-through" run yesterday after a speedy seven miles. As I burst into the house, I head for the bedroom to talk to Bob while he was getting his running crap together for the Ocala marathon. Feeling exalted, I sang, "I could have done a half-marathon today with NOOOO problem." Famous last words, and Bob called me out on it. "Ya know, Lee Ann," he snickered. "They have a half tomorrow." All I could think about was the "rolling hills" described on the race's homepage.

I got called out by Bob, so I rolled my happy ass out of bed at 3:30 this morning to join Bob in his quest for marathon sexytime. He has had a vomiting issue his last couple of marathons, and it has killed his time consistently. More importantly, I am usually his target of choice for post-race chunk hurl. First thing I notice when we get into the truck is that it is FREAKING COLD. I am in racing shorts. My freshly shaved legs were virtual cactus appendages by the time we got to Starke.

When we arrive in Ocala, we notice frost on parked car windows. Did I say it was cold? Because it was cold. I did same dayregistration, and I couldn't get over how small the venue was. In fact, Bob parked the truck RIGHT AT THE FINISH SHOOT. I sat and talked to Jen in the truck after my half watching runners come in. I felt very VIP.

About those rolling hills. I think it is utterly unfair and against the grain of creation's greater purpose to make a hill without a downside. I want to get that out of the way before I continue. That, along with fine crystalline mist freezing in my nosehairs, were my biggest "dag-nabbit, wtf am I doing this for" fodder for me to fixate upon. I suppose I am lucky. Ocala is horse country and that is EXACTLY what you are running through. I suppose I should be thankful for my frozen nares--I never once smelled horse dookie until the end of the race.

***More rolling hills***

I knew I was sucking at mile 9. They serve HEED at the waterstations manned by teenagers who are compelled to mix the aforementioned Heed in dubious concentrations. One station? A faint, pink-tinged watery substance. Another station? You may as well have handed me a cup of Robitussin. YIKES.

Anyway, if you have read this far, I finished in 2:10. I was trying to emit positive karma forces to Bob and the settled-stomach fairies who I believe in, damn it. Yesterday I wrote a time I predicted he was going to finish the race down in a magazine in his truck. He didn't want to know what I wrote, but I was out of the truck at exactly the time I predicted for him at 4:16:58. I spotted him coming to the finish at 4:16:00. I start maniacally waving and screaming for him to "Step it up, baby" and I received perhaps thebiggest stinkeye experienced in the years of our marriage. He finished in 4:17 and change. He said he threw up at mile 21, and a motorcycle cop was circling him like the anticipatory vulture swooping around a flattened possum.

I would do it as a full, but only if I was healthier. Not a bad race, quiet and non-eventful. Plenty of room to run without getting boxed in.