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Today I competed in my second Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

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By “competed,” I mean I tried to 1) finish, 2) without injury or embarrassment, and 3) with a better time than last year.  I managed the trifecta!

With an official time of 1:49:05 (pace=8:19) I came in 1305th place overall, and 51st in my age group (50-54.)  51 years old and I came in 51st.  Kinda cool.  This outpaced last years race with an overall time of 1:50:46 (pace = 8:26) and an overall place of 1802 which put me 72nd in my age group.

I’m not sure how many half marathon runners there were, but let’s just say there were a lot.  I lost count, oh, about 10 yards into the race.  (According to the website, there were 14,127 in the half marathon and 3,681 places in the marathon.)

The weather started out iffy, and it drizzled/rained for the first couple of miles.

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IF IT RAINS, YOU RUN.  IF IT THUNDERS, YOU RUN FASTER.

It was actually a little refreshing, but it became a little humid after the rain stopped.   At the last minute,  I switched from a T-shirt to a long sleeved shirt.  Mistake.  Should have trusted my weather.com temperature predictions!  Instead, I looked out the window of my hotel and saw a lot of people wearing long sleeved shirts and light windbreakers.  Psyched myself out.  It’s kind of like reviewing your answers on a test and changing a correct one at the last moment because of second guessing.  Oh well.

I seemed to be the most popular runner.  I kept hearing, over and over again, “GO TODD!”  Now, I did have an ear bud playing music in one ear, and there was a lot of background race noise, so it is slightly possible that these folks were yelling “GOOD JOB!”, but I think they were cheering me on.

One sign read:  “IF TRUMP CAN RUN, SO CAN YOU!”  Thought that was pretty funny right there.

TrumpRun

Not from this race . . . . too much SUN!

Another one said “SHORTCUT” with an arrow pointing away from the main course.  I thought about it, but it seemed a little questionable, especially since the arrow looked like it pointed to a parking lot.  Maybe they offered a shuttle service to the finish line?  Had it pointed to a bar offering free beer, I’d have gone for it.

And, as I passed a group of young women sporting Nittany Lion logos on the back of their tank tops, I said “GO PENN STATE!” as I passed them.  A guy running next to me then yelled, “Penn State!  Let’s hear it.”  So someone else started yelling “WE ARE!”  and a chorus of “PENN STATE!” ensued.  After three cheers, the cheerleader yelled “THANK YOU!” and we all politely responded, “YOU’RE WELCOME!”

Never had that happen in a race before.

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Some people think are runners are crazy to begin with.  I saw a T-shirt at last weekend’s race that said, REAL ATHLETES RUN.  THE REST PLAY GAMES.

But how crazy do you have to be to run in the rain?

Apparently I am all over that.

Wet T-shirt Contest!

This past weekend was rainy, but fortunately fairly warm, at least for March in central Pennsylvania.  And in my defense, it was not pouring when I actually started out.  Barely drizzling.

But I was completely soaked by the end of a six-mile run.  The picture doesn’t do the weather justice.  You can’t see the water dripping from my visor or hear  the squishing of my shoes.

Weather has rarely been a factor in “whether” to run or not.  I have run in below zero wind chills.  I have run in 110 degree  heat in Phoenix.  Rain is actually fun to run in if it is not a monsoon and the temperature is above 60.  Rain and forty degrees is just miserable.  I like running in a light snowfall–it’s like running in hyperspace with the little white flakes whizzing by, or like running in a snow globe.  The snow dampens noise and it’s almost magical.   I have run in snow and ice.  I have also fallen on ice.  The weather won that round.

But this weekend, I won the wet T-shirt contest.  Of course, I was the only one out there, but who’s counting?

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No, that is not a misspelling or a homophonic grammatical error.

I originally was going to title this rant TO RUN OR NOT TO RUN, but that is NOT the question.  I am going to run, come hell or high water, and with the weather we’ve had, it appears to be high water.  I call my insistence on running dedication.  My wife calls it obsession.  There is a fine line between the two.

The weather in Altoona POM Wonderful: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, PA has been wet.  Very wet.  Even the farmers are complaining

It’s not that I can’t run in the rain.  I have done so.  In fact, weather is usually not a factor in whether I run or not.  I have run in the rain at 35 degrees.  I prefer rain when the temps are above 70–in fact, sometimes a little rain is preferrable to keep one cool.  I have run in wind chills below zero.  I have run in snowstorms.  I have run on icy mornings, and I once fell because of that and boogered up my ankle for six weeks.  That is the only time I have ever regretted not using the dreadmill treadmill.

But . . . and there’s always a but.  I have a hang-up when it comes to starting out in the pouring rain.  If I am already out running and the sky decides to open up and drop buckets on me, I just keep on running.  I figure by the time I return home I will be soaked anyway, so I may as well finish my run.  But to start out into a downpour in dry clothes, that is a different situation.  It is a mental thing, but I can’t seem to shake it.

As a result, my last two runs have been late at night–late for me that is.  Eight o’clock as the sun is going down.  The problem is I am generally an early or mid day runner.  At eight o’clock, it has been only two hours since I ate the biggest meal of the day.  This is almost as regrettable as the icy morning.

Thanks to these late runs after dinner, I have had the opportunity to enjoy my dinner a second time.  A third time.  The more I run, the more stuff sloshes around and the more I burp.  My meal is not as good the second time around.  It reminds me of The Bucket List when Jack Nicholson dines on catered food — “the best in L.A.”, before he has his chemo treatment.  After he spends the night in the bathroom, his roommate, Morgan Freeman quips, “ain’t the best in L.A. anymore.”

But these are the things that dedicated runners have to put up with.  A runners forum recently had a thread about “You Know You’re a Runner When . . .”  Some of the answers include:

. . . You obsessively track the weather (especially in fickle April in NY) to plan your outdoor runs [I am not alone!]

. . . You know you are a runner when you think that it’s acceptable to sacrifice one of your toenails for a PR. [PR is personal record and for the record, I have three toenails in various stages of falling off, bleeding, or growing in weird.]

. . . You listen to the radio and gage the appeal of a song based on whether or not you’d run to it. [Every song on my ipod was picked for this reason.]

. . . In spite of constant spousal pleas, the drying rack never gets taken down as it always has running shorts, tech shirts and socks in various stages of drying. [My wife hates the running clothes hanging in the bathroom!]

. . . when your socks are permanently stained from bleeding toes [what’s with the toes again!]

. . . the family trip to the Grand Canyon becomes a logistical nightmare as you try to figure how to do a Rim-to-Rim run. [My wife hates it when I run on vacation!]

But you get the idea.

If the weather doesn’t improve, I’m going to have to get some more TUMS.  Or eat less.


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