Saturday was my third time running the Sunburst Races in South Bend, Ind. Once again, I opted for the half and was happy to not be running the full marathon because of the heat.
The first six or so miles of the 13.1-mile race were fairly pleasant despite the humidity and the high temperatures. The race route wound around the St. Joseph River and was pretty well shaded along the way. The Sunburst also does a great job of placing an adequate number of water stations along the way to help runners stay plenty hydrated.
Despite the adequate water supply, the last few miles of the race were quite brutal. The shade was limited and the breeze was virtually non-existent. Several kind residents along the route placed water sprinklers in the street to provide some relief to hot runners, which helped immensely.
My best half marathon time to date is 2:21. I knew when I passed the 11-mile mark and the clock showed 2:35, I wasn’t going to be setting any PRs. In heat like I was experiencing though, I knew I should be happy to simply finish, especially as I watched the first responders scoop a young girl, who passed out from the heat, up from the sidewalk. Although I did feel like an inadequate loser when I saw two Amish girls, running in ankle-length dresses, pass me by in the opposite direction on a swing-back about a mile and a half long.
As I was entering the very last leg of the race which takes you around Notre Dame stadium, I spotted my friends Peter and Joanne ahead of me. We had started the race together but split up somewhere between miles 6 and 7 when they decided to take more walk breaks because of the heat. I wondered how they got in front of me but soon learned they had actually skipped one of the swing-back loops cutting out a good mile or so. But they stayed on the course to hopefully run into me and help me through the last couple miles. They assumed they weren’t being timed anyway since they had signed up for the full marathon but were running the half.
Joanne ran with me to the stadium, down the ramp onto the Notre Dame football field as the Irish Fight Song played loudly. It was very exciting and I was so happy to be done. We crossed the finish line at the 50-yard line of the field hand-in-hand, in picture perfect fashion. Peter followed about a minute later. As volunteers at the finish line congratulated us, Joanne said she felt like a fraud since she hadn’t really run the race. I told her running even 10 miles in that heat earned her some kind of accolade.
Later that night I was taking my timing tag off my shoe and realized I attached the wrong half of the strip — the side that had the instructions on how to attach it but not the side with the magnetic strip that electronically records the time. I also realized that in the excitement of crossing the finish line, I had forgotten to look at the clock when I finished. I have no idea what my time was but I decided it’s just as well since I was likely pushing three hours.
I put undue pressure on myself to beat my PR every time I run, or at least not set a new record for slowest time. I knew this race had to have set a record for worst. performance. ever. and I would probably beat myself up needlessly if I knew the actual number. No matter how much I tell myself at each race that I don’t care about my time, truth is, I do care. What can I say, it’s a character flaw.
The next day I got an email from Peter saying to check out the race results as he had “taken TRAAG (the name or our running group – Two Redheads and a Greek) to new heights.” I looked up his name and couldn’t find it in the half results. I looked in the full marathon results and found his name with a finish time of something like 2:46! To put it in perspective, the winner’s time was 2:36:59. My best marathon time is 4:48.
Since there is no official record of my finishing time, I think when people ask about the Sunburst, I won’t volunteer the fact that I ran the half. I’ll just tell them that I had a wardrobe malfunction that rendered my timing chip inactive. But, I’ll tell them, Peter and I ran the same race and crossed the finish line about a minute apart (not exactly a lie). So whatever his time was, take off a minute and that will be my approximate finish time. 🙂
Question is, will Peter allow me in to the Elite Runner Tent as his guest next year? Or maybe I can fly to the East Coast this fall to watch him compete in the Boston Marathon.