This once little half-marathon in the Cleveland metroparks now fills to capacity at about 800 runners plus many hundreds more in the 5k. It seems like everything fills up these days. But the crowd wasn't too much of a problem for me. I've done this one many times, and I pretty much know what to expect. It's a fairly fast course, and I usually do well here. Moreover, I've done well at my last two halves. So expectations were high. (Read: Danger, Will Robinson.)
A bunch of us MCRR folks carpooled down there. This is always fun. It was cold, probably in the upper 30s, so we didn't even want to get out of the car for a picture. We did, eventually, however. But as we lined up and started running, the temperature, now rising into the 40's, felt fine. Things started well for me. I got right down to the solid pace that I'd intended to maintain throughout the race. I saw several other friends before and during the race. There are several turn-arounds in this double out-and-back course, so that helps everyone see everyone else.
I said the crowds weren't much of a problem for me. Actually they were, but it was the 5k runners, not the half-marathoners, that were the problem. As we came to about the 5-mile mark, we bumped into hundreds of 5k runners, who took up large chunks of real-estate. It was challenging to try to get around them. I managed, and came through and around Bonnie Bell Park for at a still-solid pace - right where I wanted to be.
Around about mile 7, my right calf began to hurt. I hoped to run through the pain, but it got worse instead of better. By mile eight I was hurting to the point of limping. By mile nine I was hobbling horribly. Of course lots of folks were passing me, and of course I didn't care - I had other concerns, such as survival.
At some point the level of pain reached a steady state, and so did my now-very-slow pace. I finished in 97-something, about 10 minutes slower than I'd hoped. I still managed third in my age group.
Now I'm hobbling around with this pulled calf muscle. It's been a while since I've had a major injury, and even longer since it happened during a race. I can only hope it'll heal quickly.
The irony is not lost on me. It was just a couple days ago when I posted this little gem: What if Eleanor Roosevelt Could Fly?
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