Last Sunday, 16 May 2010, I completed my first run that has the word “marathon” on it. It was the Kaiser Permanente 2010 Avenue of the Vines 1/2 marathon run.
I have run many races before, but nothing like this one. Most races I’ve run (5Ks, 10Ks, and 12Ks) would involve tens of thousands of people (like the San Francisco Bridge-to-Bridge or the Bay to Breakers). The Avenue of the Vines run only had around 650 runners! Probably because it was held on the same day as the 99th Bay to Breakers run.
Anyway, in the large races I’ve attended, there is a spectrum of runners from the very beginner to the elite. So, when I find myself close to the finish line, I always was able t find a bit more energy to kick harder at the end by picking off people that were running much slower closer to the end. A lot of runners typically do this to help them kick at the end.
At mile 8 to 10 of the Avenue of the Vines (AotV) I realized that I was running with 600 plus of the most “die-hard” runners of the Central Valley. Why? Because in bigger races I’ve been to many people start to drop off late in the run. Not at AotV! As a matter of fact, people in front of me were actually picking up speed, and people behind me were starting to pass me–never mind that this is a 13.1-mile run!
My overall experience in this run was pleasant. I arrived there at around 6:40 am, parking about 3/4 mile away from the starting line. I used this opportunity to warm up with a short 3/4-mile jog. Every runner knows that they need to may a quick pit stop minutes before race start. So as soon as I got to the starting area, I lined up for the rest room. It took a few minutes of waiting, and was able to relieve myself with about 5 minutes to spare. I put myself close to the back of the pack.
When the start signal was sounded, people took off in joy! In the first 3 miles, it was a bit crowded. By mile six, people were starting to spread out. At mile 6.5 people were gauging whether they can get a negative split in order to beat the 2hr time. Note I was running with the goal of beating a 2hr time. The guy next to me said that we had 4 minutes to spare. This same guys would soon pass me and disappear in the pack of people ahead of me. At mile 12, I started to pickup speed and was able to see the finish line banner. Having already run 12 miles it was kind of tough to maintain a faster pace since I definitely slowed down on the second half of the run, and my legs were tired. With about 0.2 miles to go, I did my best to sprint to the finish line–making sure to smile with a thumbs up sign at the camera man. I wanted to make sure the last seconds of my run didn’t reveal the pains I was suffering! I was able to pass one person at the suggestions of one of the cheering volunteers, but then a guy came sprinting past me seconds before I crossed the finish line. I’ve never tried so hard to get to the finish line in my life! I was breathing hard and moving my weary legs as fast as I can.
As soon as I crossed the finish line and heard the beeping sound of the sensors, I stopped my timer and saw that I had beat the 2hr time! Woohoo!
One thing stood in my mind in this race…
The runners here are “die hard” runners of the Central Valley. It was an honor to have run which such dedicated bunch.
At the end of the run, we were guided to some water bottles and some recovery drinks. I picked up my wine glass and went to get my lunch and fruits.
Next to the announcer, there was a van where they posted the run placement. I found my name at 214th overall place with a time of 1:58:52.3. For my age group it showed that I placed 47th. The official placement and time were posted on the web a couple of days later. It turns our my real placement was 219th, with the same time split, and with age group placement of 48th.
I’m not sure if I’ll run this again next year. I might just do the Bay to Breakers since I’ve never done that before. We’ll see.