The 2008 Rochester Half Marathon started with an “Are you ready? OK. Go.” We started. John and I, of course, did our traditional “see you in another life brotha; Strength and honor” send offs. I fumbled a bit with my new watch and didn’t get it started until a few seconds after I crossed the starting line. That left me questioning my actual time for the whole race. When we got to the first mile I was a bit surprised when my watch read 8:00. I was targeting a 7:30 pace and thought we were running much faster than 8 minutes per mile. It turns out that we probably did run the first mile faster. The mile markers on the course, for the most part, were not accurate.
Mark ran with me even though I was singing out loud. As ridiculous as I may look I like singing along while running. I think it helps me keep my pace under control and it just feels good. I should probably put in a little disclaimer. I’m not belting out the lyrics and I’m not singing along to the entire song. I’ll let out a few words at a time. I’m sure Mark thought I was nuts but he stuck with me. He’s a good friend like that. About half way through the race I ran ahead a little bit at a water stop. I didn’t know it at the time but it would be the last time I’d see Mark alive. That’s not true; I just wanted to pretend I was Stephen King. He writes stuff like that all the time. It was the last time I’d see Mark until the end of the race though.
When I got to mile marker 8 I was surprised at my time. It was slower than my target pace. I couldn’t believe that I had lost time in the 7th mile. I came upon another runner who asked me if I thought the mile marker was wrong. I was glad he thought it was because I really thought I was running faster. Mile marker 8 was way off. If I had to guess I’d say it was off by at least a tenth of a mile.
From that point forward the runners were few and far between. People were slowing down noticeably. The few runners that I did see I generally passed (yeah, that felt good!). A little past the Ford St. bridge I saw Dave, John’s brother, and we shared a fist bump. We made it explode. It was awesome.
Approaching Frontier Field I knew I was very close to a PR. I looked and looked for my friends and family but I couldn’t find them. I ran through the finish and was very happy to see that I had earned a new PR! I ran the race in 1:35:41, a 7:19 average pace. My previous PR was at Buffalo this spring where I ran a 1:36:26. Sure, it’s only 45 seconds but the conditions on Sunday were far more challenging than the conditions at Buffalo. I also didn’t rest for this race. It didn’t start as a PR effort. I’m insanely happy about this time.
I placed 49th out of more than 1300 runners. I placed 7th in my age group. My age group had 65 runners. I was the 41st male to finish out of about 620.