[Yes, I am sort of late getting this together. It was only last February. I just can’t keep up with this newfangled technology.]
This has become a favorite event for us, since it is scenic, casual, and very friendly to walking participation. I was not as conditioned this year as I had hoped, since there was some fragmentation of the fitness clubs in ’08.
I got a Polar heart monitor watch for Christmas last year, and it showed a surprising result as soon as I started using it while walking. At my best walking pace, my heart rate averaged about 105 bpm, even over 12-13 miles. The minimum estimated rate for aerobic exercise at my age is about 116. Unless I run, which I can’t do for any extended time, I’m not really getting the workout I need from the road work. It isn’t clear why my heart rate is so relaxed about all this effort, but I have since started using elliptical machines at the gym to improve my aerobic workout without the impact problems of running.
The Surfside event had some serious problems last year, especially with their first use of electronic timing. They corrected all of that this year, and the event was very well organized throughout. There were just two annoyances worth mentioning, both related to weather.
Surfside was hit hard last year by Hurricane Ike, which caused severe damage along the Texas coast all the way to the Louisiana border and beyond. The pavilion at the park which served as the operational base for the event in prior years was critically damaged and structurally unsound :
Remains of Stahlman Park Pavilion, damaged by Ike
The event was based in a large tent this year. The ground from the parking lot to the tent had been torn up by bulldozers, and was very difficult to cross—especially in darkness the night before at packet pickup. It was kind of rough after the event, too.
The fog we experienced in ’08 was back (This, for some inexplicable reason, was when I decided to leave my high-tech rain poncho in the van):
Poor visibility on approach to event
Most of our walking group decided to take the early non-competitive start. I decided to take the regular start, partly because of my fascination with chip timing, and partly because it was an hour-and-a-half later. This would turn out to be a bad choice.
The starting line was bustling with a large crowd of participants and onlookers:
The downwind leg of the course was deceptively easy. More hurricane damage was evident, such as the remains of a beach house which straddled the course due to beach erosion (about half its piers were in the water):
After the downwind turn, things got much more interesting than I usually prefer. By about mile 4, the wind was howling straight down the beach into our faces. By mile 7, I started to hear thunder, and ominous clouds approached the beach from the Gulf of Mexico:
Within about half a mile, I was soaked completely by a wind-driven rain, with lightning in the distance. For some reason, I mostly worried that they would come out and make us stop—which would have been the sensible thing to do. I was cold, due to the wind and wet clothing, and eventually stopped trying to keep a schedule. The turnaround for the miserable upwind leg was at mile 9, which helped some (no pictures, since I had to put the camera away). The rain finally stopped around mile 11.
There was a carcass of a porpoise at about mile 12, which had probably been washed ashore in the storm months before. I don’t understand why it hadn’t been removed (There were reports of another porpoise carcass on the full marathon section of the course). I decided not to post the photograph, which is pretty unpleasant.
I finally approached the finish, about 17 minutes behind the worst-case target time:
Mile 13 of 13.1
The event was mostly entertaining, at least. The finishers’ medals were very artistic again this year:
I survived the Surfside Half Marathon ’09!
The premiums for participants included a wind jacket (the yellow jacket pictured above) and the trademark travertine coaster, along with post-race barbeque. The organizers worked out everything very well (except the weather), and took care of everyone through the duration of the event. If I continue road walking next Fall, I’ll probably target the 2010 event.