Monday, June 09, 2014

ODDyssey Half Marathon - June 8, 2914

ODDyssey Half Marathon

Don't know why I decided to run the race.   In an Inquirer article the race director said he created the race when he ran Broad Street and was frustrated that there were no long distance races close to home to take advantage of that training.  The race formerly known as the PDR isn't until September.

I think that was partly my motivation:  To see how that longer distance felt.

It is a low key affair.  This year the attendance was capped at 3000.  It has a very small expo at Llyod Hall on Boathouse Row.  (I place I know well since it was the meeting place for a running group I ran with in the 90"s).

I biked over from the Please Touch Museum and got a preview of how tough the last hill was going to be.  (If you have done the Philly Marathon it is the hill just past the Zoo (Lansdowne Ave) that is about the 9 mile mark in the Marathon).  I was surprised by how many runners were surprised by hill at the finish - it's an out and back - what the course gives it ruthlessly takes back.

The race has a very early start - 7am.  But I found I like that.  Today was warm and humid and not unbearably so our good spring continues.  I got there about 6AM because I didn't want to end up parking miles away.  As it turn out I was quite close to a small pond covered in lilies that I remembered from my childhood since my father took us kids there often (as it was quite close to his childhood home).  I thought of my Dad this week being the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  My Dad spent June 6th very seasick in the English Channel.  His unit didn't land until the 7th.  Probably lucky for me (although he saw several months of heavy combat in France.

The course for me was old home week.  Down Martin Luther King Drive, over the Strawberry Mansion Bridge, up a sharp hill to the Dell  and thru East Fairmount (this is close the Tri bike course that I will do in 2 weeks),  Then a sharp drop back to Kelly Drive to Falls Bridge.  (Again replicating part of the Philly Marathon course).  Once back on MLK you have only a 5K to the finish (and of course that long, half mile climb up to Memorial Hall (the Please Touch).

I did a mostly 4/1 run/walk but I was consistent changing with topography and water stops.  I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of run/walkers out there.  My little geography remained surprisingly consistent with me seeing the same runners passing and then me repassing.

I had a friendly duel with one runner on a schedule similar to mine (he said he was 3.5 run/30 second walk.  About mile 11 I pulled away from him and never saw him again.  Among my companions were two young ladies who never stopped talking - it was amazing.  Later on of them told me that use it to gauge effort.  Frankly by mile 11 I was hardly thinking of conversation.

The hill was bit of a struggle but once up the last half is pretty flat. I sailed to a very satisfactory finish.

A clever medal designed as a bottle opener (which I just tried and it didn't work well),  I got in a very long line for a Slyfox beer and glass.  I grumbled but the line moved well enough and I got to trade war stories with fellow runners - funny how these micro environments ,  Actually, when I got the beer it was quite refreshing.  I once again found a small group.  The race encourages costumes although only a few do it but one guy had a sombrero and poncho and I told the outfit would get him kicked out of most American universities.  Fortunately, he found that funny and we had a great conversation.  I slowly enjoyed my beer but decided to start home without a refill.  As I walked back toward the gear bus and my car.  I heard them calling out awards - they started out with the 65+ group (which I certainly appreciate I hate sitting thru all the whippersnappers to get to the old guys and gals).  I though I would see if I knew any of the award winners,  when they called out third place I thought - hey my time was better then that and lo and behold the next name was mine.  I must say I was gobsmacked.  (And the first place guy finished almost 20 minutes in front of me so my surprise was correct).  It was a very nice medal and I will treasure it as an example of serendipity.

A fun day - will I do it again?  Probably not but I will recommend it to all looking for a late spring half.

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