Screw you, Santa Clarita!
Regular visitors here know I have an unhealthy obsession with the fact I dropped out of my attempt to do the Santa Clarita 1/2 last year. Well, that monkey is off my back: I did the Orange County 1/2 today.
First some logistical comments: I was impressed. I got there around 6:50 for a 7:30 start, later than I wanted, and was able to park immediately, no waiting. There were plenty of Port-a-Potties; I was able to go through the line twice in 30 minutes. (Yes, that's what hapens to me on race days). There were plenty of water stops along the way. It only took me 5 minutes in line to get on the shuttle to take me back to the starting line (although the line seemed to be growing quickly.) One minor quibble: they had a live band playing at Mile 1. Very cool, but I don't need inspiration during the first mile. How about pushing them back another 10 or so?
From a technical standpoint, this was probably the best race I've ever done. Typically I will second-guess myself afterwards, thinking of ways I could have shaved 30 seconds off my time here and there: fewer/more water stops, better transitions during a tri, etc. But this time I don't think there is anything I could have done to significantly improve my time. Although there were a few rough spots, I mostly felt OK until the end where I felt ready to collapse at the finish the line. In other words, I don't feel like I left anything on the course. I'm very happy about that.
The few minutes after the race were a bit scary. All I wanted to do was sit down. I know that's the worse thing to do, but it didn't matter; I couldn't sit down if I tried. So I figured I'd just do some stretching. I couldn't. I tried squatting; nope. I tried just moving my feet apart; nope. There was this odd sense of paralysis where my legs just would not do my mind's bidding. The only thing they knew how to do was walk. There's probably some term for it involving "Muscle Memory" where after long periods of repetitive behavior, that's all the muscles can do. It was probably 4-5 minutes before I regained control. Creepy.
Here's something that blows my mind: I ran a half-marathon. I hung out at the finish line for a while, then took a shuttle bus back to my car. I drove 55 miles through L.A. traffic. The race started at 7:30, I was home around noon. Had I been doing the marathon, I STILL WOULD HAVE BEEN RUNNING! Man, those are LOOOOOONNNGGG runs.
There are always interesting people at races, and two in particular caught my eye. The first was a high school kid at the starting line. Like the thousands of other people there, he had his bib number pinned to his chest. Unlike the thousands of other people, he wasn't wearing a shirt. Yes, he had safety pins going through his skin. Dude... Seriously... Just gross.
The other Racer Of The Day was little Jimmmy Woods (no, not James Woods). Little Jimmy is 12 years old and was signed up to do the the 1/2 Marathon. Way to go Jimmy! The "special" thing about little Jimmy is that he is about 6'2, 170 lbs, and covered in hair. I was in line for the Port-a-Potties (round two) and little Jimmy was next to me. Just by looking at him you could tell he was a serious athlete and of course I hated him. Because I'm petty, I wanted to see his age so that in my mind I could think to myself "yeah, you're hardcore, but I'm ten years older than you". So I looked at his bib and that's where it said "Jimmy Woods - Age 12M". No freaking way. Either the real Jimmy got sick and his uncle was running in his place, or Los Angeles has one hell of a school milk program.