My goal was simple and stated in my previous post – run sub 1:05:00 in the half-marathon. I missed that goal today, by literally 1 second (unofficially). However, there were a lot of positives to take out of this race today. At the beginning of the race, the race director was announcing to stay to the right and there would be lead bike and “ready, go.” Literally still trying to reset my watch and startled I started the race immediately losing a second. Not thinking that second would matter, I was able to reset and start my watch what I assumed was about 10 seconds down the course. For the first 3 minutes or so we were on the right side of the road and the marathoners were on the left. Then, we merged and stayed merged the ENTIRE race. The next six miles through Golden Gate Park were a distance runner’s nightmare. Literally, I collided hard with one runner where I lost about 10 meters to the guy (who finished second, and turned to me and asked if I was alright) and then collided in total with about half a dozen others. Remember, these are 4:30 marathoners (I saw a pace sign around this point) who I’d estimate 80% were wearing headphones. I spent the six or so miles in Golden Gate park trying to guess in my head where the person in front of me was going to go. Taking tangents was impossible during this race…I probably had to take every single turn on the course wide because of the marathoners. In addition, there was a section of the course that went on a small bike path/sidewalk where I had to run in the grass up this short steep hill to pass the marathoners, and than immediately navigate two 90 degree turns, cones, and of course the numerous other runners. There were also two U-turns that was not marked beforehand, where I felt like I was coming to a stop, turning around, and picking back up the pace. Worse than everything was the fact that there was only 1 mile marker (the three mile mark which my watch said 14:55 but after the debacle of a start I guessed was around 15:05). After the Golden Gate Park hills, the course was on the roads and I could hear the other guy with me breathing hard so I pressed the pace. Now, there were mile markers for the marathon and the course was identical to the marathon, so I could get splits for those miles. After a 4:53 and a 4:40 downhill mile I had a significant lead. At this point, I knew I was close to pace so I needed to keep pushing hard. Somewhere between 8-9 miles the course went downhill, crossed an intersection, and then went right back uphill. Well there were cones blocking off the intersection, so one of the lead bikers turned right and I followed, the other one briefly turned right and then the Police officer holding traffic motioned we were going the wrong way, so I lost momentum from the downhill and had to turn around and run back up this hill. This was not a HUGE difference, but it was definitely worth a few seconds. From then on out it was a race against the clock, the marathoners, and navigating the turns the best I could. The downhills definitely pounded my legs, and although my breathing was easy and aerobically I felt fine, I knew I was fighting hard with my legs. The last 1.5 miles I was seemingly using every ounce of energy to try to press the pace faster as I know I was close to the time. With about a mile to go, I pass Pat Reaves, my friend who I’m staying with who was tempoing the race at marathon pace. He cheers wildly for me, but of course I’m confused that he was ahead of me. The final half mile or so they split the course for the marathon finshers on the right and half marathoners on the left. I see a duel in front of me between two people and they break the tape for the half-marathon. I see the clock at 1:04:40 and know I need to sprint – which I do – and cross at around 1:04:59. After complete confusion as to what was going on, I walked to the “VIP” tent and began to get my bad and switch into trainers…but most importantly figure out what my official time was. Pat explained to me that seven runners cut a mile off of the course because it was simply not marked in Golden Gate Park (which explains why NOBODY during the race cheered for me for being in 1st as the people who accidentally cut the race had that privilege). This explains why the results are completely messed up and have two guys that finished at 1:04:40. Then, I find out that my “unofficial” gun time is 1:05:01, which misses the olympic trials marathon qualifying standard by 1 second. So, after giving up a ridiculous amount of time on the course, I missed the olympic trials qualifier and my goal. However, I did win, set a new personal best by 2:24, and also bettered the course record by 2:28. I thought that before the race a sub 1:05 would take a perfect race. Yet in a race that completely tested my willpower and staying positive in that situation with all of those obstacles (literally), I’m VERY happy and proud of a 1:05:01. I’m not down and out, I’ll live to fight another day and have a year to blow away 1:05:00 and I’ll likely do a marathon in the next year and definitely aim to run sub 2:19. As of now, I’m hoping that there is some way to petition this, especially with the lead bikers taking me the wrong way. Also – the “official” results might have my chip time under or at 1:05:00. Thanks again to everyone for your support leading into this race. It helps so much. The outpouring of support to my cell phone is SO encouraging. Now, it’s time to relax with some friends as we go see Inception tonight, and then watch the San Francisco Giants play tomorrow before traveling back to State College early Tuesday. Hope everyone’s weekend went well and thanks for the support.