Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Half Marathon #2 of 2013: El Guatibirí de Otoao

The great thing about the Guatibirí half marathon that I ran last Sunday, in my opinion, is that I more or less ran it on a whim. 

I knew the race existed, and when it was, and after San Blas (read about it) I sort of had it in my mind to sign up for it.  But, after the race, I put it out of my mind.  I took a week and a half off of running completely in order to let my knee heal, and then when I did start running again, I did so cautiously, not building up much distance. 

A week and a half before the half marathon in Utuado (Guatibirí), I hadn’t run longer than 5 miles since San Blas—a full month previous.  But Lucy told me that though she hadn’t been training either, she still planned to sign up.  After a quick check with my long-distance running advisor/friend to make sure my chances of injuring myself by running the marathon were slim, I decided to sign up. 

Lucy and I ran one 10 mile run the week before the half, and I felt good.  But still, that was the only distance run I did in preparation, and I didn’t do any speedwork at all. 

My attitude going into the race was more or less one of, “Well, let’s see how this goes.”  My goal was to beat my San Blas finish time, but I figured that if that wasn’t possible, it was no big deal; I didn’t devote months to getting ready for this race like I did for San Blas, after all. 

The day of the race came.  Lucy and I, along with her son, husband, and a friend of her husband, made the trip to Utuado and registered for the race with plenty of time to spare. 

Just like at San Blas, school buses took all of the athletes from the registration area to the starting line.  Unlike at San Blas, the buses did not lay on their horns the entire trip, and there were much fewer people along the route cheering for the buses. 

Lucy and I and her friends Michelle
and Marlene at the starting line area

Likewise, there were fewer crowds along the route—though there were still many spectators.  And lots of water! Almost every kilometer there seemed to be a water station, and many people sprayed their garden hoses in a fine mist over the road for runners to pass through if they chose. The people who did come out to support the runners were enthusiastic and cheerful, and they made running fun. 

The race went pretty well, overall.  Lucy and I started on pace to finish in 2:06, had we maintained that rate.  And we did keep that pace, until about kilometer 12 and the first (and really only) big climb of the route—El Caracol.  After that, I found myself winded, and slipped a little behind Lucy, forcing her to slow down a bit.  Eventually, I settled in to watch her back, and dragged myself through the last 7 kilometers of the 21K race. 

I managed one final burst of power the last kilometer and kicked in a sprint at the finish, and was able to come in JUST under my San Blas finish time (almost 30 seconds faster if I go by my stopwatch, or 10 seconds faster if I go by the official gun time).  Lucy finished about 30 seconds ahead of me, improving her personal record by almost 3 minutes! 

I brought my participation medal to school and hung in on my whiteboard this week.  And I’ve learned something since San Blas.  This time, when my students ask me how I did and whether I won or not, instead of telling them I came in 323rd out of 432 overall, I tell them I came in 2nd in my age category.  This is much more impressive.  I don’t feel the need to clarify that there were only 5 women IN my age category…if I’m proud of me, I’ll let them be proud too.  After all, I ran this race on a whim.  

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