Sunday, October 4, 2009

09/27: State to State Half Marathon

I really need to stop trusting these motel clock-radios; I woke up at 6:40, 40 minutes away from the parking lot for the State to State Half Marathon, said parking lot being itself maybe a ten-minute walk to the staging area / starting line. I had to forgo my traditional prerace shower but I made it to the race with time to spare for picking up my timing chip. Barely.

The race starts in the middle of Oxford, Ohio, (home of the Miami University RedHawks) and runs into Indiana, although not really to, or even through, any specific town so far as I could tell, then returns to Ohio and Oxford. A banner was stretched across the state line; it said "Welcome To Indiana" and "Welcome To Ohio" on the appropriate sides but I don't actually remember seeing any permanent welcome signs in either direction. Which doesn't mean they weren't there; coming back, at least, they could have had an elephant on the side of the road and I might not have seen it.

The course is fairly simple - we followed High Street west out of town because Indiana is west of Ohio and although the name of the road changed, we pretty much stayed on it the entire time, except for two detours into subdivisions on the west side of Oxford while we were running towards Indiana. The course could be accurately described as rolling; going out I thought we were running mostly gentle uphills for a few miles. When I looked for a corresponding stretch of gentle downhills on the way back in, though, I was tragically disappointed because I really could have used them. Especially since I had already burned through my I-just-want-to-be-done sprint - at mile eight, which is a little early for a half marathon.

Storms came through overnight and we started under dark gray skies that, for whatever reason, turned noticeably darker once we crossed into Indiana, I mean, immediately, like the moment I passed under the banner. It reminded me of "The Stand," the way the weather turned sour on one of the good guys when he entered the Walkin Dude's domain. Not that I'm suggesting Indiana is under Randall Flagg's sway. I'm just saying - the sky was darker and more threatening there. Draw your own conclusions.

Eventually I got back to Ohio, Oxford, and the staging area, in that order. Chugging down High Street, I got passed by some guy who was finishing with too much energy. The announcer got excited and said, "We've got a real race to the finish here," but in fact we didn't - he blew my doors off. Which is fine since I've been meaning to have those doors replaced for years anyway. After finishing I checked out the postrace chow and was pleasantly surprised - not only was it well-stocked with traditional foodstuffs (bagels, bananas, granola bars) but it was also resplendent with one-offs - Tootsie Rolls and donuts. People were scarfing up snacks like they were provisioning for a trip to the North Pole - a carton of granola bars here, fistfuls of Tootsie Rolls there - but my mom raised me to be not quite so greedy; I just grabbed two donuts, three Tootsie Rolls, and a bottle of Gatorade. Then I took off to bankrupt a breakfast buffet.

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