My coach saw it coming before I did. I think my occasional training partner and seriously talented triathlete Dominic Paul who oversees our international sales and marketing did as well. They knew I would run a half marathon before I did. My debut occurred on November 3rd at the Princeton Half Marathon in New Jersey. In the event, it went well. Despite or maybe because of the 45 degree fall morning, I ran the 13.1 miles in one hour 31 minutes and three seconds or 6:57/mile. This was good for 14th place out of 1,000 runners and unfortunately for 2nd place in my age group, 11 seconds behind the first person of my age (not even one second per mile difference!).
I train for shorter races, either 800 and 1500 meters on the track or 5k road races. So a half marathon is not my focus. In order to improve my fitness, however, my coach had had me do four or five training runs of more than 14 miles since August, some of them in Maine’s rolling hills. So it was in the realm of possibility for me to aim for under seven minutes per mile in a proper half marathon race. But certainly easier said than done.
The race brochure went on about how lovely and historically significant the course was throughout its figure of eight trek around Princeton’s campus and town. As a Princeton alumnus, I did appreciate running around the Institute for Advanced Study where Albert Einstein resided as well as seeing more of the town north of Nassau Street than I had seen before. But let’s be honest, when you’re running as hard as you can for over an hour and a half, you are not in touristic mode. The main thing that struck me was how hilly the course was in the second half. I was not expecting that.
There may be more of these occasionally in my future. I’m close enough to sub-90 minutes to add that to my list of race goals (1500m under 5 minutes still being the goal of goals). But I only hurt for five days afterwards, which on the 6th day didn’t seem so bad. Then, of course, there is the marathon. But that’s for another day.
According to my imprecise records, this is my 200th blog entry that I have written (i.e., not a guest entry). As always, I’m open to the readers’ reactions and/or topic suggestions.