It’s hard to be disappointed with a race where I finished just seconds off my PR, but Saturday’s 5th annual running of the Door County Half Marathon left me feeling like there was work left unfinished.
I ran 1:14:35 through the hills of the park, twenty seconds faster than last year’s painful performance, good for my third 4th place finish in as many Door County half marathon races. Unlike last year, I finished feeling strong. I only entered THE DARK PLACE on one desperately lonely, rolling stretch of Middle Road, for me the course’s equivalent of some beautifully haunting David Lynchian dreamscape that goes on forever, and from which you can never escape.
In fact, the only problem with the race were my expectations. I wanted to run a PR. I wanted to compete, to grind it out for 13 miles of head-t0-head competition. I wanted–and I’ll greedily admit this–to finally partake in the sweet prizes 1st-3rd places receive. Unfortunately, the course is amazing but not really PR-friendly, I ran alone nearly the whole race in a spread out field, and three terrific runners happened to sign up for the same race and finish before me. My expectations were irrelevant in the face of a few details largely out of my control. All I could do is run a race I could be proud of–which I did–it just wasn’t quite enough.
Fortunately, not getting some prize swag and missing a PR by five seconds are fairly small stones in the grand scheme of things. The day was by and large glorious. The rain we were supposed to have turned into blue-skies and sunshine. My dad and V ran fantastic races and finished feeling energized. We celebrated our efforts with live music and beers outdoors at Husby’s, followed by well-deserved naps in the sun, and the grilling of big, fat ribeye steaks for dinner.
As the rain finally came Sunday, when I reluctantly talked myself out the door for eight shuffling miles on the muddy trails of the Park, the weekend became–as it so often does–life-affirming. Even with my mild disappointment, there was no place I would have rather been, nothing I would have rather been doing, and no one I would rather have been spending my time with.
I’ll be in Chicago this weekend and am on the fence about running a half there on the flat shoreline paths of Lake Michigan. Although my legs feel shot today, I feel compelled to attempt posting a time that’s an accurate representation of my fitness, and this may be the only time I have in the next month to do so. My previous half PR from 2010 taunts me mercilessly, and waiting until fall–the next most likely time I’ll be in as decent shape–seems like an eternity.