2006-07-23 - Riley's Rumble 2006

13+ miles @ ~11 min/mi

At 3am I wake, check the clock, and try to get back to sleep. Repeat that at 3:20, 3:35, and further decreasing intervals until the 4 o'clock alarm goes off and it's time to eat breakfast, don my TrajeDeLuces, and go pick up Comrade Ken. Today's half marathon is a foolish experiment: I know I'm not a hot-weather runner. But the forecast is for unseasonably cool conditions so I decide to try my luck, further motivated by having done no significant exercise since Saturday a week ago.

Ken, who ran more than a dozen miles through sweltering heat and humidity yesterday, is ready to rumble when I reach his home shortly after 5am. He directs me along a new route and we arrive before 0530 at Riley's Lock on the C&O Canal, where Seneca Creek flows into the Potomac River. I wander about, register for the race, take photos, and chat with athletic acquaintances. Eventually I find myself behind several hundred fidgety folks awaiting the 7am start.

Way-No "Mr. Sandbagger" and Ken "Mr. Marathon" try to pull me along for the first half dozen miles, but their pace is a bit faster than I can maintain. We hear sirens, wend our way around rescue squad vehicles, and after the race learn that one of the fast runners has been hit, and knocked out, by a vengeful deer. (No joke!) A medevac helicopter flies in to pick him up. In contrast to 2003 and 2004 no llamas are present this year — unless they've had haircuts and are disguised as the horses that eye our passage.

In the final miles I lose track of distance, assume that I'm going ~12 minutes/mile, and tell several fellow-travelers that we've got 3 miles to go when we're really within 2 of the finish. I meet Scottie and play leapfrog with her: she speeds by me on the hills, and I catch up with her again on the downslopes. We finish together a bit over 2:20, slowest of my three Riley's Rumbles. Ken cheers me at the conclusion of the run, so I give him a ride back to his house even though he seems scarcely fatigued. Is it his good genes, or superior training, or spiffy equipment, or mental toughness, or injected steroids? No matter; I survive, sweat-soaked but happy and unblistered. See http://flickr.com/photos/zhurnaly for some silly pictures taken before, during, and after the run. Bravo! to Tom Temin, Race Director, and all the volunteers who made the event possible.