Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Marine Corps Half Marathon - Jacksonville, Oct 6, 2012

My fall plans made for an example in excess. I filled my weekends with races and football games to the point that I had none free. I hadn't factored in the cost to my sleep, though.

The week prior to the Marine Corps Half Marathon in Jacksonville, I had spent my time wandering the small towns of central Pennsylvania and running a trail marathon in Lock Haven. I was wrecked from giardia and burned by the 6,000 feet of elevation gain. My body was barely ready to get back to training in a week much less commit to a race. Yet, I was already registered for the race in Jacksonville and heard good things about the environment surrounding the race and course itself.

I convinced myself to drive up the morning the race and shoot back down I-95 afterward. Then, a pretty girl asked me if I wanted to make a weekend of it and throw in the Bears-Jaguars game on Sunday. Well, momma didn't raise no idiot (all previous actions I have been accused of notwithstanding).

So, I made the drive up Friday night and made it to the race start early the next morning. The crowd was thinner than I expected for a half marathon with such high-profile, military support. As a military nut, the fact that the opening gun was a howitzer was enough alone to warrant my participation. There are few difficult courses in Florida, and any you find that way are mainly due to overpasses or bridges. Jacksonville's race started with an out-and-back across the Main Street and Acosta Bridges, and it hit people hard.

Following that, though, was a race along the water that was quite peaceful. The law enforcement folks were polite and it was a quiet run. My sore legs from the previous week hit me hard at mile 11 as we climbed the ramp to descend back toward the starting line, and it slowed me considerably. Still, my goal at this point was to finish strong (and get back to the girl... what? Priorities...). I came back within view of Everbank Field (home of the hapless Jaguars) and turned toward the finish, a high archway formed by the guns of two howitzers. Marines lined the finishing chute and one handed me my medal as I crossed in 2:13:24, a somewhat depressing time and actually my slowest half marathon. Given my health and recent racing, though, I was happy. Having finished in a time 20 minutes slower than my PR, it meant that I wasn't even tired.

The Jacksonville Marine Corps Half is a well-organized race and has much the same fanfare as the MCM in Washington, DC, albeit to a smaller extent. So, I was surprised to see such a small field running it. Still, it was a nice race, and I'd certainly return if my schedule allowed it.

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