The website for Riley's Rumble warns, "If you want the 3 H's (hills, heat, and humidity), this is the race for you." Rather ominously it continues, "It . . . may not be advisable for your first half marathon." In 2010 the weather conditions were so adverse that the race was changed to a fun run, meaning that the race was not timed and no results recorded.
I am not fond of half marathons. They are on roads rather than trails and the distance is too short to run slowly and too long to run fast. And Riley's has the 3 H's. Maybe the combination of all those is why I don't run other half marathons. Riley's is the only half marathon that I run; as an MCRRC member, I don't have to pay for it. Maybe if I ran a flat course on a cool fall day I wouldn't dislike the distance so much. But I'm not inclined to find out.
I get up at 4:50 a.m. to drive out to the Germantown SoccerPlex where there race begins and ends as I've volunteered to help at registration prior to the race. Registration work beginning at 5:30 a.m. at Riley's is easy and well organized in that club members who have run previously only need to remember to bring their bib and chip and run and nonmembers who registered online need only to pick up their bibs. Lines for members who forgot their chips and for nonmembers registering the day of the race never get more than two or three deep due to the organizational skills of registration captain Christina C. The biggest challenge is illuminating the board with nonmembers bib numbers before the sun rises at 6:14.
I start off with Mark McK. and Barry S. Mark tells me about the West Virginia Trilogy of a 50K, a 50 miler and a half marathon over three days in October. Doing the 50K and the half have some appeal and I tell him I'll take it under advisement.
The temperature is not too bad, but the dew point is high and the relative humidity makes it feel like running in a sauna. Sweat has little evaporative cooling effect as the air is not dry enough to permit the sweat to evaporate. My glasses cloud up and even taking them off does not clear the fog from them. My ability to see during the entire race comes down to two fuzzy choices: muted fuzzy shapes and colors through clouded lenses or brighter out-of-focus shapes and colors through uncorrected eyes. I try both. Neither is superior to the other.
Mark and I gradually pull away from Barry and then I pull away from Mark. The first few miles go by at about a ten minutes per mile pace. Around mile four the poor vision contributes to me missing a broken piece of pavement and I roll my right ankle. I walk and hobble for a bit, but I've rolled that ankle so many times that after about a quarter mile it feels OK and I can resume running.
I've prepared for the weather and brought Succeed electrolyte tables along. I take three throughout the course of the run and they help fend off any dehydration.
Getting to the next aid station Rebecca R. is offering runners the choice of Gatorade with and without ice. This is extraordinary serve for an aid station and I select "with."
I feel that I'm fading a bit, but then fellow trail runner Liz and several of her friends catch up with me and I work off their energy to pick up my pace. After a short time I feel something wacking my left ankle. I look down, figuring it is my shoelace, but the lace is securely fastened. The wacking continues. I look again and realize that it my right lace hitting the opposite ankle. I stop and retie it as the group runs off. The last portion of the course contains some significant uphills and I walk them. At the last aid station I take the proffered water and splash it into my face.
While I have averaged just under 10 minutes per mile the first 11 miles, the next two miles the pace falls to 11:25 per mile. In the last stretch before the finish, a women catches up to me and urges me to keep up with her. I try, but as soon as she gets a bit ahead, I stop running and resume walking.
But in the last 80 yards I spot a runner a little ahead. Somewhere I find a bit of energy and sprint, passing him
just before the finish line. It leaves me gasping for breath, but it is worth it.
I finish in 2:13:36, good for 3/13 in my age group, 162/265 males and 241/475 overall. All in all, not a bad day under the conditions. And a result that does not justify the frowning visage captured by the course photographers.