Twelve middle-aged women, all loosely tied together by our children’s elementary school or swim teams but bonded by a love of running, gathered together in a dark school parking lot hours before sunrise, on what would have otherwise been a leisurely Sunday morning. Shivering in the early morning chill, we separated into two large capacity vehicles and caravanned the ~30 miles to Half Moon Bay. Some were running a 10K, fewer the half marathon, and a smaller yet group would go the full marathon distance.
The route wound down and back up the coast, either on paved pathways skirting rolling sand dunes or narrow meandering packed dirt trails on dried grass covered hills. Our hard work was cooled by ocean breezes and periodically rewarded by stunning ocean views. At the end of the race, each was awarded a celebratory finisher’s medal, wrapped in a mylar thermal blanket, and directed toward refreshments.
I had stepped up my meager running training minimally over the past couple of weeks. In a typical week, I try get in a couple of 5 mile runs + one to two 5 mile hikes. Two weeks ago I added a couple of miles to the 5 mile run and last week I ran an 8-miler, hoping that would be enough preparation. Looking for timely tips, I eagerly “thumbed” through my Kindle copy of Danny Dreyer’s “Chi Marathon,” a follow up to the book that changed my running style early last year. I was encouraged by Dreyer saying that a strict adherence to correct mechanics could compensate for a lack of training hours on the road. Yesterday’s race bore that theory out.
I was keenly attuned to my posture, legs, and arms throughout the race. I maintained a forward lean from the ankles, knees low and bent, and back straight, and perhaps more importantly, focused on keeping everything from my knees down as loose as possible. This allowed me to navigate the tilted, narrow, twisted dirt tracks without twisting an ankle and absorb the force of the road on my legs without having pain from my legs force me to the side of the road. The result: 2 hours, 6 minutes, 38 seconds, which was good enough to put me 12th (out of 40) in my age group and fast enough for a personal record, beating my only other official half marathon time of 2 hours, 12 minutes, 56 seconds in San Francisco in late 2011.
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