I run faster carrying a football - that was my takeaway from the Marshall University Half Marathon, where I made sure to tell them that I still have four years of eligibility left. Cutting across the end zone, I took a short pitch from a dude who really wanted to execute a straight hand-off, turned up field, and dashed - well, as much of a dash as I could muster after thirteen miles - towards the opposing goalline, which was also the finish line of the race. I thought about diving across the finish line with the ball stretched out in front of me but thought better of it - the chip was recorded by my foot hitting the mat, not the ball breaking the plane of the end zone. It would be a bitch not to have my finishing time recorded because I dove over the mat.
The timing chip was one of two things I didn’t love about the race; in fact, the timing chip I actively disliked, although it was partially my fault. The chip was on a Velcro strap and wearing it felt like a mild form of house arrest - I would have preferred the more traditional set-up of a chip attached to the laces with a plastic tie. Of course, the Velcro strap may not have bothered me so much if I hadn’t put it on too loosely originally, and then overdid it when I tightened it just before the start. By the end of the race my ankle was hurting, probably because the strap was cutting off circulation - after the race I saw that it was cutting into the skin.
The course was the other thing I didn’t love but I certainly liked it okay, mostly because it was flat and fast. I think it’s the second-fastest half marathon I’ve ever run, behind the old Las Vegas course - which they don’t use any more, and I’ve never run the new one there. On the down side there are a few stretches, totally probably somewhere between a third and a half of the race, that aren’t too scenic; it’s not a half course that I’d want to be strolling through. I think that’s at least partially a function of Huntington - you have a choice between fast and scenic; if you want some lovely views, you’re going to have to climb for them.
The weather- lower forties, a light breeze - was also conducive to running and I ran my fastest half in ten years, despite maybe also running my dumbest race in ten years. I covered the first three miles at 7:23 pace, the next eight at 7:40 pace, and averaged 8:17 from there through the finish. Despite speeding up at the end because I do, remember, run faster carrying a football. Actually, looking at those splits, they’re not that bad - I’ve run much dumber races many times over the past ten years. At any rate, it didn’t matter - the important thing was that I made it to the stadium while they were still grilling hamburgers. They were already out of cheese, though.