Alien Invasion

A week ago I ran the “Area 13.1” half marathon in Roswell. Although the theme of the event was “Alien Invasion” it was not held in Roswell NM, which is famous for aliens of the outer space kind, but in Roswell GA, which to the best of my knowledge has no connection to aliens beyond this race. And even that connection was somewhat tenuous. Sure there were a couple of inflatable little green men, a big alien head above the finish line, and finisher medals that bore an ET likeness, but “Alien Invasion” as the promotions advertised? Not so much.
What was truly alien about this race was the fact that it started in the evening and ended in the dark for most of us earthlings. It was also about as hot as New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert with race time temps approaching 90 degrees. I had entered this race with a bit of trepidation, since for me running late in the day or in the heat are the express lanes to bonking. I was banking on my training for the NYC Marathon to bail me out.
I heard about this race from a co-worker who is very athletic but not a distance runner. She decided to run it as a personal challenge; I just figured it might be fun. I mean who doesn’t like a good alien invasion? There was some light banter around the office about how we would do, but being that guy who is known for running I was determined to at least run a respectable race regardless of conditions.
So of course I started out way too fast – first 3 miles were right about 8:00 each, faster than my best half marathon pace which was done in a nice comfortable 38 degrees at 7 AM. Fortunately I was able to summon my race credo– remember you’re not bonking until you are – and managed to calm down to a more reasonable pace of 8:30-9:00. I settled into a nice groove, perspiring profusely and pouring a cup of water over my head at every opportunity.
After the sun went down the race became a bit cooler but more challenging because I couldn’t always see where I was going. There were also people on the course who didn’t get the memo about the alien invasion and they were out for their evening constitutional or bike ride. They were like pop-up obstacles, obscured by oncoming headlights or lost in the shadows. I barely avoided running head on into a cyclist who was very angry that I was not watching where I was going. Gosh – sorry – I guess I wasn’t expecting any downstream bike traffic during a half marathon. Silly me
As I approached the turn to the finish line I closely encountered an array of lights so blinding that I had to guess where the course boundaries were as I cautiously strode the final yards to the big alien head. I crossed the line 1:55:07 after the gun, soaking wet and hot hot hot, but feeling pretty good. A young woman gave me my alien medal, which was nice, and then another gave me an iced towel, which was out of this world.
The promotional tagline for the event was “Will You Escape the Invasion?” and depending on how you interpret that I guess I did! I ran only 10 minutes off my best half marathon time under conditions that have been known to prevent me from even finishing. I felt my NYC Marathon training was really paying off! Then this past weekend my long run of 18 miles took a full minute per mile longer than the Area 13.1 Half Marathon, so it looks like I can’t be too confident about outrunning those Roswell Grays just yet.

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My Alien Look

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