(Wind-gods vs Runners)

The weather was the big factor in this race. 52 degrees and 100% chance-o-rain at race time. The race started 20 minutes late due to some unclear rain-related issue, which prolonged the pre-race-waiting-agony. The light downpour turned to a medium downpour just before the gun. But the rain was falling “sideways” due to the wind. Steady at 20Mph, gusting to 30Mph and higher.

It was a very flat, out-and-back course. Now the fun part. The first 6.55 miles was into a direct headwind. We had some slight intermittent protection from buildings for the first two miles, and nothing but low sand dunes after that. I was shooting for an 8:10/mi pace, but gave it up quickly. Between miles 3 and 5, I was in a 3-runner group. We took turns running out front while the other two drafted. It helped a little, but our pace was 9:45 plus. Had it not been for the drafting, I mighta had to walk. We whined and moaned as a couple of the gusts almost brought us to a stop. It was like running up stairs for an hour. The wind-gods did not want us to make the turnaround. With the turnaround in sight a quarter mile away, the wind-gods tried one last mighty blast. It even picked up sand to sting us with (Some later said it might have been a 40Mph gust.). Finally made the turnaround! I almost fell over from the sudden tail-wind. The last 6.55 miles was like running downhill! I cheered on the other runners who were approaching the turnaround. I shed my outer shirt at mile 9. I thanked every volunteer I passed who toughed it out. At mile 10, leg-weariness set in. My legs were beginning to feel drained from the headwind running. But, with the tailwind, I was able to hold an 8:10 pace for the last 3 miles (I even passed a Marine…). And at the end, I had definitely “left it all out there”. Time 1:52:21, 8:35 pace, 1st in age division. 4 minutes slower than my PR.

The finish line was a lonely place. No one there.Were it not for the wind, I mighta heard crickets. One volunteer was there at the back of the chute to jot down my number, I guess. Can’t say I blamed ‘em. Not the kind of weather you’d wanna hang around in. Most finishers had headed straight to the after-race party for the warm-dry-comfort-food-beer. I headed for a hot shower, then the party.

10-K and 5-K races started at the same time as the half. 146 runners ran the half marathon. 148 in the 10-k and 165 in the 5-K. Total runners, 459.

A guy named Leonard Vergunst finished first place (Yes, he’s 54…). 1:26:40. 6:37 pace. Anna Hallex, 32, of Gulf Shores, was first place female, 1:30:09, 6:53 pace.

Eric Weill