Alternative Facts

“It’s always the coldest day of the year” – or so the Magic City denizens assured me for the running of the Mercedes Benz marathon and half marathon. I typically run better in the cold weather so I was looking forward to seeing the mercury way down low for the race last Sunday. I’ve been encouraged recently that I seem to have finally regained my “speed” (such as it is) post NYC Marathon training and I was looking to potentially PR in the Mercedes half marathon. As far as I knew that PR would be anything better than 8:13, which is the time listed as my “fastest time” on the NYRR website. As it turns out, a lot of my expectations were based on alternative facts.

The day of the Mercedes Benz Marathon was not the coldest day of the year. Not by a long shot. Race time was 66 degrees, about 20 degrees above normal. Coldest day of the year was merely an alternative fact. So if you believe various estimates of the effect of heat on race times, my 8:13 effort was already going to yield something more like 8:28. Nevertheless I went out and I ran hard. It was hot – I poured a cup of water on my head at most water stops along the way so by the end I was wet enough to agitate the excess detergent out of my shorts (see picture) . I finished in 1:48:10 or 8:16 per mile which as far as I knew was not quite a PR but was pretty good for an old guy who ran the NYC Marathon in a dismal 11:07 per mile. I finished 7th of 101 in my old man group so I was happy.

When I got home I wanted to see how this compared to the race I had been holding up as the gold standard, my 2016 United NYC Half Marathon, which is where I assumed NYRR had gotten that 8:13 best time from. After all my only other NYRR races were my 9:40 at Grete’s Great Gallop in 2014 (my first 13.1) and the aforementioned NYC Marathon disaster. But as it turns out my 2016 United NYC Half Marathon time was actually 8:41 – effing terrible!!! The NYRR “best time” of 8:13 was some calculated number based on 10k – essentially an alternative fact. That means that my race last Sunday was actually a PR! I beat my next fastest half marathon by a whopping 7 seconds in total.

Now my whole perspective on next month’s return trip to the United Half Marathon has changed, and i owe it all to alternative facts! I no longer need to beat 8:13 to best last year’s effort – I just need to beat 8:41! I’m pretty sure I can do that no matter what the weather is. Alternative facts – I salute you!

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