Surfside half marathon 2008

We walked the half-marathon (13.1 miles) in Surfside, Texas yesterday. It’s unique in that the entire course is laid out on a beach. I’m too old and beat-up to run, and there were a few minor setbacks, so it took me about 4 and a half hours to finish. I was passed by a woman in a heavy leg brace and her dog, and later by a woman who was limping badly. My wife eventually had to drop out at the 7 mile point, and later walked two miles back to the finish line.

I forgot about the camera in my cell phone until just before the second turnaround point at 9 miles:

Outbound on the long second leg, this aid station was the half marathon 8 mile point, and the ground around it was literally carpeted in about a 50 yard radius with plastic and paper cups which participants had dropped as they passed. We momentarily were walking on crunchy plastic and paper cups instead of sand. The volunteers were all extremely helpful and supportive. They cleaned up the Cup Farm before I got back, so I didn’t get a picture of the mess.

This was one of the more dramatic sights at the event—a man running with an American flag on a heavy, fully rigged mast strapped to his back. I think I’ve heard about this story elsewhere, but I haven’t looked it up yet.

Here’s the increasingly welcome 12 mile marker, and the shot also gives an idea of the breadth and condition of the beach. I spent most of my time below the tide line where the sand was very smooth and firm, although it was a bit damp. The sand above the line had rollers in it which I found less comfortable. For a while, I thought someone was close behind me, until I realized that I was making a slight noise as I lifted my feet. I found later that every ridge in the soles of my shoes was filled with impacted sand. I probably experienced a variation on endorphin-induced euphoria at about this time, during which I may have considered an independent run for the Presidency. It blessedly cleared up quickly.

This would have been a shot of the 13 mile marker with the finish line behind it, but it isn’t very clear ( I couldn’t really see the viewfinder image in the phone in the sunlight). It is possible to make out the fog rolling in as I approached the finish. By the time I got my finish paraphenalia (finishers got a nice enameled pewter medal with a nautilus motif) and we climbed the 4 or 5 flights of stairs and ramps to the room where lunch was served, there was a solid wall of chilling fog outside. I still don’t think the fog had anything to do with my approach to the finish line, but certain people seemed to see it as more than a coincidence. As we left the event, I had to lean out the window to help my wife find the exit from the beach.

Next year, we will definitely use the regular start, as the early start seems to lead to a rather dismissive attitude from some of the race officials. Otherwise, it was a great event, and I haven’t actually started to really experience serious pain as a consequence—I think that’s for tomorrow.

I have been told that some of the apparent surliness on the part of the timing staff may have been due to some serious problems with the timing. Some preliminary reports suggest that some of the timekeeping records may have been misplaced or something. No wonder they just told me to check my watch. I guess I shouldn’t complain so much….


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