Call me Donesy McDonester. The Streak is officially over. Fifteen half marathons in exactly 14 months, 15 days. Ta-da! First, the stats from yesterday:
Mistletoe Half Marathon, Winston-Salem, NC
Place: 854/1109 (not in the bottom 100!)
Race Pal: Mike from Clemmons, who kept me from losing my nerve after mile 10.
Shoes: New Balance Minimus Zero (available in stores next spring; see my upcoming review in the week of Dec. 5)
Rising at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. on Saturday, I thanked myself for putting an end to this monthly madness. After the usual getting ready and drive to Winston-Salem, Josh and I squeezed into the long line for packet pickup. It seems the Mistletoe peeps may have oversold the race a bit and weren’t quite expecting the huge crowd of packet-pickuppers (or the number of runners who might need to pee a few hundred times before the 5K and half marathon). The giant crowd caused both races to be delayed by 30 minutes, giving me and Josh ample time to test the car’s heating properties and the limits of my bladder. I also had a nice chat with a man sitting on a bench with his pet wolf, which was one of the sweetest wolves I’ve ever met. The only one I’ve ever met, but very sweet.
Finally it was time to mill around in the starting area. I found a patch of sun, hoping radiant heat would stave off hypothermia, and was soon happily accosted by April, who was about to complete her 13th half of 2011. The Baker’s Dozen, if you will. Some nice-sounding singers sang the anthem, and then the crowd started meandering toward the start banner. Eventually I realized the race had actually begun and we were supposed to begin running. (Later in the day, Josh asked, “Didn’t you hear the cannon?” I replied, “Was there a cannon? Huh. This is just like that Big Chair I never saw at the Martinsville Half, isn’t it?” I really did not hear a cannon. But I have tinnitus, which might explain it.)
The run itself was quite enjoyable. If you’re going to enter a half marathon within city limits, Mistletoe would be a fine choice. At no point do you feel like you’re running through an area just to fill the distance. Every block is pleasant—residential neighborhoods filled with that sort of stately “old industrialist money” architecture that’s common in older U.S. cities, a pleasant stretch of greenway, and a little winding bit around Wake Forest University. Lots of trees and an adequate number of cheering residents. The roller-coaster hills are a nice challenge without being overly grueling. Flat this race is not, but flat is boring.
My race buddy for Mistletoe was Mike from Clemmons, who recently retired from the daily grind and is now a full-time runner. We talked a lot about minimalist shoes and Born to Run. Like me and a jillion other people, Mike was inspired to try running again after years of not running thanks to Chris McDougall’s book. He ditched his orthotics and has since run two marathons and several half marathons, including the Marine Corps 26.2 and an amazing-sounding half in Anchorage.
Mike and I were evenly matched, and his pleasant conversation kept me from making my usual mistake of screwing up my pacing and blowing it after mile 10. His goal was 2:30, mine was 2:20, and ultimately we crossed the line at 2:16:54. Excellent! I’m really grateful to have had his company on this last race of the streak. The experience reminded me why I run: To enjoy it and to be thankful that I can, and to share running’s awesomeness with others.
So that’s that. I finished what I set out to do—run a half every month for a year—and that’s pretty cool!
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share video recaps of all my half marathon race shirts and medals, as well as rate the races in various categories. If you have any category ideas, please share them in the comments!
Going forward, running-wise, you and I and all the other cool kids are running together in the Virtual 12athon Challenge. And of course I have four half marathons on the 2012 schedule, as well as the very likely possibility of the Hinson Lake 24-Hour Race next September.
Speaking of which: Huge congratulations to Dena and Cindy for completing their first ultra yesterday—50-plus miles for each of them! And, of course, big ups to the spouse for finishing Mistletoe in 1:25, 23rd overall, and in perfect toe condition (thanks, Sockiplasts!).
Coming this week: My review of the footwear for this race—the New Balance Minimus Zero road shoe. Stay tuned!
But first, let’s watch me finish this sucker!
Video by Josh, of course!