Posted by: Jack | May 10, 2007

Spontaneous Half Marathon

Last night I came across the route that is used for the Capitol City Marathon here in Olympia. Along with the standard 26.2 mile race is a half marathon and a five mile race. Having run nearly 8 miles yesterday and feeling no worse for wear I found the idea of attempting the half marathon route on my own to be too enticing to pass up. Other motivations included having just finished reading the UltraMarathon Man and a desire to get away from the monotony of the gnat-infested loop I’ve been running for the past 2.5 weeks.

This 13.1 mile loop route starts at a park downtown and since I was already pushing my luck with this significant increase in distance, I didn’t feel up for adding on 3 miles by running to and from the start/finish point. But since Anna and I are enrolled in the Intercity Transit Bicycle Commuter Contest for the month of May, I decided I could manage to ride there and back.

I packed in a hearty breakfast, did my best to hydrate since I wouldn’t have the aid of regular water stations along the way and departed for the park. The run started off a little rough since I had to wait to cross a couple intersections but within ten minutes I was well outside of downtown heading North along the East side of Budd Inlet. It may have been yesterday’s run taking its toll, but it took an unusually long time for my body to reach a comfortable cruising pace. I would guess it wasn’t until the beginning of the 6th mile when I finally began to relax into the run. Just when I was beginning to feel really impressed with my performance considering my limited training, I ran by a house where a young couple appeared to be re-shingling their roof. Now I’ve heard that roofing can be a strenuous task but obviously people do it all the time. What knocked me down a few pegs here is that either by birth defects or severe injuries, neither of these two people had arms! They were putting a roof over their heads…zero-handedly.

Pressing on I began a new chapter in the audiobook Black Holes and Baby Universes which is a series of lectures by Stephen Hawkings. This chapter just so happened to address some of the recent questions I had encountered after reading Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. It turns out that many of the oft repeated dicta found in books on astrophysics are just plain wrong. Some crucial examples are that particles can and do travel faster than the speed of light for very short distances and that both energy and particles can, and likely do, leak out of black holes. Such occurrences are extremely rare relative to instances in which events transpire according to these nearly-unbreakable physical laws but something only has to happen once to prove that it’s possible.

Despite a full charge, my iPod’s battery died very prematurely just as I was becoming especially drawn into these lectures so I may finally have reasonable justification to upgrade to a Nano. It’s very unlikely that I’ll ever be able to outrun the advertised ten hours of play time provided by the Nano. Luckily this happened with only about two miles left, the last of which was almost entirely downhill. As I turned onto the final straight I picked up the pace and completed the last half mile at a good clip. I had done it…and it was surprisingly not all that tough. It’s now about two hours later and my legs are tired to be sure, but they feel good; perhaps even capable of some unicycling before work tonight.

I had covered the distance in 1 hour and 41 minutes, a pace of 7:43 per mile. This is about 30 seconds slower than what has become my average and I credit this restraint for my ability to finish and still feel as good as I do now. Maybe with a little continued persistence, a full marathon won’t be as far off as originally planned.



  1. You never fail to amaze me, Jackson, although the efforts of the couple you saw along the way were truly incredible!

  2. […] hungry. It was this fact that led me to seek out lunch at Subway today…in Tenino. After yesterday’s longest-run-of-my-life I felt that my feet and shins could really use a break so I had no intention of running today. But […]

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