On Sunday I ran my first half marathon. Ran-walked, actually, there being no way I was actually going to make it running all thirteen-point-one miles. And for the last quarter mile or so I’m not really sure you would call that running.
The race was the San Jose Half Marathon held, in a shocking twist, in San Jose. (Actually, the full name was “The San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon,” because there were bands scattered along the course, playing in a variety of musical styles, with a heavy representation from the “boomer rock cover band” genre.) Cameron was running with me, graciously sacrificing his chance at putting up a halfway-decent time in order to help keep me going (more on that later).
The route wound us all around downtown San Jose, though various residential and commercial areas and then back to the suddenly-poignant financial district. Some of the neighborhoods were surprisingly nice, not that I had too much time to examine them. I was too busy breathing.
A surprising number of people were gathered along the length of the course, shouting encouragement to the runners as we went past. Some of them were clearly out in support of friends or family, but a lot seemed to just be general spectators, spending part of their Sunday shouting, “Woo!” and “Keep going!” at random staggering, sweaty people. I enjoyed them, partly for the encouragement, but mostly because there’s just something great about people taking the time to go and stand out along the street and cheer on total strangers engaged in a pointless task.
The plan was always to run-walk the race; I was never going to be able to run the whole thing. And since I did not have a watch appropriate to the task, Cameron was serving as timekeeper, letting me know when we had done our seven minutes of running and it was time for our one minute of walking. At least, that was the plan as I understood it. I did notice that seven minutes seemed to be getting longer as the race went on (I chalked that one up to fatigue) and if I hadn’t been so tired I certainly would have picked up on the fact that we weren’t stopping more than once a mile, as we should have been doing, at least occasionally. But it simply never occurred to me that what was actually happening was that my dear boyfriend had been steadily lengthening the intervals, up to about eleven minutes, without telling me, until I complained that I couldn’t take the pace (this would be around mile eight) and he knocked them back down to around nine minutes. I’d be angrier, but I did finish in a relatively respectable time. Plus, my knees hurt too much to try and kick him.
At the end of the race there was a whole gauntlet of volunteers waiting to give you stuff: water, a souvenir medal, an ice-water soaked towel, yogurt, fruit cups, energy bars, bananas and more water. It was very nice, but some of the participants did get a little carried away, descending on the tables like looters and hauling off as much as they could carry. For my part, I was too tired to be greedy, so I just took what I could eat then and there. Except for one of the fruit cups, which turned out to be gross, in kind of a gooey way.
So, that was it, all over but the stretching. And the complaining, for the next day or so, about how much the various parts of my body hurt. And the celebratory dinner involving fruity cocktails. And the ibuprofen (not in the cocktails) (might have been a good idea, though). I didn’t run at all for the next week, but that’s going to change soon; it looks like we’re training for the Austin Half in the spring.
I’m getting my own watch.