Race Report: Shoreline Half Marathon

Heat and Humidity Dominate

One of the warmest days of the season played host to the Shoreline Half Marathon. 
Held on the shore of Lake Ontario at Hamlin Beach State Park, the Shoreline Multi-Sport Festival offers a half marathon, 5K, kids races, a triathlon and a duathlon. The sprint distance triathlon is one of the oldest tri's in the area. 
Athletes are treated to fantastic scenery running and biking through the mixed hardwoods and pines of the park. 

The breezes coming off the Lake Ontario usually offer relief from summertime heat and humidity. Usually, that is. 

The weekend of July 18 was a continuation of a recent heat wave that has settled on the Rochester area, and after a brutal winter, the heat is certainly welcome.

I found my customary back-of-the-pack starting spot and was enjoying the pre-race social time that comes with talking with other runners. There were several runners I'd coached at Speed Camp, many new friends I'd met through working at Fleet Feet, and even a couple of friends from high school who I'd not seen for thirty years.

Impressive as always was the variety of participants; fast, slow, large and small...but all going in the same direction. I was particularly impressed with a former colleague who was running the half with his wife and daughter; doing this race as part of the Four Seasons Challenge.

The mood was in tune with the event; festive...despite the heat and humidity.   

A familiar voice signaled the start of todays ordeal, wishing us luck and promising to see us at the finish line. 

And we're off, running through the park as the atmosphere hung heavy around our necks. The temperature at the start was 78 degrees, dew point a sticky 74 degrees. 

The course leaves the park around the 5K mark and heads out to the surface roads of Hamlin. It also leaves the relative protection from the heat as the lake breeze and shade become scarce. It was at the 5K mark that I noticed a lot of people walking and it was here that I first felt that today was not going to be the PR I'd wanted it to be. 

The route continued through flat, exposed farms. Despite the climate of the day, I was feeling strong at mile 5, 6, and 7. I'd done my homework and run through all kinds of weather, hot and cold, I'd stayed hydrated and well nourished. I also took full advantage of the aid stations every two miles. Garmin tells me that I was spot on pace approaching mile 8 and I was indeed feeling strong despite the heat. By now the air was so dense you'd think you could touch it or poke a hole in the sky and have water pour out. 

And then a misstep. 

I took my sunglasses off approaching the mile 8 aid station, wiped off my head and was getting ready for a drink and maybe a 30 second walk break. I fumbled my glasses when putting them back on and lurched forward trying to keep them from hitting the ground. Thats when I felt it.

A ripping pain ran down my left leg from glute to mid calf so intense I actually felt short of breath for several minutes. I thought I'd pulled a hamstring in attempt to recapture my sunglasses. 

I walked (limped) through the mile 8 aid station and continued to do so for the next five minutes. The thought off sitting down  and asking for a ride back came to mind. But the Shoreline Half Marathon is the third installment of the Four Seasons Challenge and dropping out would mean a DNF for not only this race for the entire years work...and that's not happening. 

What kept me going? My wife. My kids. 

My wife has been such a motivator and supporter during my training. She puts up with the added laundry and the hours I’m out running. She’s always there to nix the excuses I seem to come up with on a regular basis, too. When I gripe about the weather she is there to remind me “if the race were held today you have to run”…and that gets me out the door. My kids are likewise there and remain the cornerstone of these activities. I don’t want to let them down. Besides, I’d encourage them to finish a race when they’re hurting and I don't want to be a hypocrite. 

Limping the last five. 

I just did it, as the saying goes. Limping an ever slower pace over the last five miles. The heat and humidity continued to pound away at all of us on the course. 

I’m thankful to have finished with a time around 2:33:00 - certainly not the time I’l wanted, but given the circumstances, I’ll be happy with it…for now. 

Onward and upward. 

This is not where the story ends. The Four Seasons Challenge has one final installment left to go; the Rochester Half Marathon to be run on September 20. It seems further way than a mere 7 weeks, but there it is…

I’ll be aiming for that 2:00 mark this time!    

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