From the vantage point of four days after my half-marathon in Long Beach, certain thoughts have been recurring in my mind about the run. There are always several situations in which you wish you’d performed differently, figuring that a different action would have produced a different result. I don’t really consider myself a competitive person, but my time was slower than a previous time of mine, and I’ve been thinking about why.

One concrete mistake we made that day was in arriving a little too late. By the time you get through traffic (yes, the 710 freeway to Long Beach was completely stopped at 6:30 AM on a Sunday due to the race traffic), then get a parking spot, then wait for the bathroom line, and then enter the crush, you are nowhere near the front. In our case, our times put us in Corral A, up near the front of the pack. They space runners by expected finishing time to try to keep the traffic spreading out over the length of the run, rather than compressing, or forcing runners to pass each other. But we started too far back, so we spent a lot of time (and some energy) passing other runners, or being constrained to running slower than we would have liked. You could argue that running slower saved us energy that we could use later on, but I don’t think it’s a zero-sum situation. I’d have been better off running a bit faster in the beginning, rather than shaving almost a minute off my per-mile time for the second half.

So starting the race at essentially the four minute mark meant that I would need to pass a lot of runners in front of me who intended to run more slowly.

The image that struck me the most during the run was of a man about halfway through the race. As mentioned, I was passing a great deal of people who had stared in front of me. This one man in particular was probably about 60, and he was absolutely drenched with sweat. People definitely sweat different amounts, so this wasn’t surprising – he was probably just the type to sweat more. But as I got closer, I heard him huffing and puffing. When I got a look at his face, it was clear to me that he was operating at peak capacity – really pushing himself. By comparison, this made me realize that I was, in a sense, just phoning it in. If I were to run that hard, I’d have a much better finishing time, and I’d be totally wiped. I’d also get a much better work out. But I just don’t think I have it in me to go at peak capacity like that.

As always, I could have trained more, gotten more sleep the night before, carb-loaded more carefully, etc. But I’m pretty happy with my time. And I had felt that this would be my last run for a while, but, actually, it reinvigorated me, and so I’m ready to go again.

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