Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cook Forest Half Marathon

My sister Jamie and I decided a couple weeks ago to run the Cook Forest Half Marathon. We figured it would be a good tune-up for Boston. I wasn't sure if I would all-out race it or just run a descent pace. I called my coach a couple weeks ago and asked if I could get a discount since I had been on the team at Clarion. He said my sister and I could send in our applications without the money!

So, I drove down to Clarion Friday night to spend the night at my friend Mark's apartment. He was on the CC and track teams last year also. My other friends, Adam and Caitlin, came over and we had a good time playing some Rock Band pretending we were rockstars! My sister had to work till 9:00 so she said she would just drive down to the race start in the morning.

Adam, Mark and I got to Cook Forest at 10:00 with the race going off at 11:00. I warmed up with another kid on my team, Travis, who is now going to grad school in WV. After a short warmup up a steep hill, I saw my sister near the registration area. Her friend from Meadville, Scarlett, came along with her to run also.

(Pic of the race last year)

The start of the race was pretty tight, but soon we got moving. The first mile was mostly downhill and I could tell by my split. When I looked at my watch and saw 6:05, I nearly fell over. I could hear others saying profanities as they looked down at their first mile.

I was going a little faster than I felt comfortable at but was pretty pumped up and felt great. I got to mile 2 at 13 minutes. The miles went along and I looked forward to the turnaround point. The course runs right along the Clarion River and is just beautiful!

I ran with this one guy from Slippery Rock for awhile. He was really impressed that I qualified for Boston which made me feel good! We probably ran for only 3 miles before I told him he could go ahead since he looked to be feeling good. I saw he finished the race in 1:26 (6:38/mile).

When I got to the turnaround, my legs were feeling pretty dead. I knew I was going alot slower, but there was nothing I could do except put one foot in front of the other. I had been trying to catch a girl on the team, Tasha, for the whole race but couldn't seem to close the gap the first half.

I was happy to see the 11 mile marker coming up. The good news: The finish was 2.1 miles away. The bad news: Two gigantic hills stood in my way. I finally closed the gap between Tasha and me right before the first hill. I told her to push it and then started up the hill. She is pretty short, so I knew she would have some trouble going up these hills at this stage of the race.

After finally getting up the second hill at a pace which felt like walking, I glided (or hobbled) down the hill to the finish. A guy passed me about 100 yards to the finish, but I put on a sprint (which I was amazed I still had) and passed him right at the line. I finished in 1:30:15 (6:53/mile) and 21st/300 people! I was really happy at my time and effort. I saw Scarlett and Jamie finish a few minutes later. I was really impressed with how fast both my sister and Scarlett ran. They got 2nd and 3rd in their age group. The official results are posted here on Runner's High.

After I finished, I went to get some Gatorade to drink. This was a bad idea because after congratulating Jamie and Scarlett, I had to throw up. It was all Gatorade and liquid. I did it behind the log cabin to spare everyone from the site. The last time I can remember puking was after a run after a track workout in high school.

Jamie, Scarlett and I went to get something to eat at the County Seat Restaurant in Clarion since we were starving. I was really looking forward to chowing down some of their huge chocolate chip pancakes (3 for less than $3!).

I had a great time running the half today. It is probably one the most beautiful courses I've ever run on. It was great to see all my friends and former teammates. Hopefully they'll post the pictures online of the race soon because a guy was taking some of everyone by the halfway point.

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