Rock ‘n’ Roll 2014: A half marathon like none other

I’d run three half marathons before Sunday, but none were like the fourth.

The temperature was in the lower 60s at the start with spotty, dense fog, some misting and a bit of wind. Humidity was pushing 100%. The course was very wet, but there wasn’t a lot of puddling. No one needs to run on soaked feet for 13 miles. I felt pretty good when the race started. I went off in corral 4 at 7:02.

I hit the button on my watch, fired up some music and settled in for the run. The crowd was great, as usual. Despite the less-than-ideal weather, people with inspirational and funny posters lined the course and cheered and screamed. So much of a half marathon is mental; the posters and motivation along the way really help.

My time to beat was 2:08, but I was pretty certain the humidity would prevent me from accomplishing that. Still, I was hopeful and wanted to give myself a better chance in the second hour by pushing it a little harder in the first hour than I had in previous half marathons.

My 5k time (3.1 miles) was 27:39, about right where I wanted to be. The 10k time (6.2 miles) came in at 58:44, slower than I would have liked. To beat 2:08, I was going to have my work cut out for me. I know I have to get to the 10 mile mark at 90 minutes to have any kind of a chance to break two hours, much less 2:08. As usual, I rolled through mile 10 at 1:40. I’m remarkably consistent at hitting that mark at that time. I knew I wouldn’t break two hours, but I still had an outside shot at breaking 2:08.

Miles 8-9 into the French Quarter were tough. It was raining a bit and visibility was very low. The wind also picked up. And I knew what was just ahead. Mile 10 has always been a mental roadblock for me. That’s where the course turns up Esplanade at the end of the French Market. The last 3.1 miles are a straight shot up Esplanade and into City Park. I finally was able to stare mile 10 down and not let it beat me. Instead, it caught up with me around the 11.5 mark.

I pushed and pushed at the end, but just didn’t have it. My lack of adequate training, the elements and toe injuries did me in. In spite of it all, 2:13 is a very good time with which I am pleased.

My four half marathons look like this: 2:12, 2:08, 2:28 and 2:13. The 2:28 was the Jazz Half debacle last October during which much of the field wilted in the heat and humidity. Like in school, you throw out your worst one.

I don’t know if I’ll ever break two hours, or 2:08 again, but it’s fun playing the mental game and continuing to try.

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