Jimmy the Eye rocked his first half marathon yesterday! Coming in just before the 2:10 mark, he dug in and ran hard across the finish line. I am so proud of him that sometimes it’s hard to breathe because I start to get choked up. Jim trained well but had a hard last couple of miles, as will sometimes happen.
I have taken the liberty of drawing red arrows to point out Jimmy the Eye in each of the photos since my photography wasn’t at its best for some of the shots. The day was mostly cloudy with little wind and the temps stayed in the 40’s. It didn’t rain until well after the race so the day was really grand for a long run.
The morning started with me holding up the show. I didn’t sleep much because I was determined to keep our loving and playful cats from keeping Jim awake all night. Jim got up at his regular time but I decided to grab a few more zzzs forgetting that my only time to keep my holiday running streak (#RWRunStreak) alive would be that morning. I was pretty fatigued from the hilly 10 milers I ran the day before in Lewistown so even though it was just a bit over a mile, I couldn’t get moving very quickly. I basically ran right into the shower and we darted off to pick-up Jim’s race packet when I was dressed.
Packet pick-up went much more smoothly than years past. Close to 700 runners toed the line just behind Penn State’s Ag Arena with the start line moved off just a bit from the past few years. Different this year was the disposable chip with sensors at both start and finish. Jim witnessed a fellow trip and nearly fall over the start line’s sensor pad but all was fine.
Like last year, the water stops were on Fox Hill Rd (not a mile before on Fox Hollow Rd as some descriptions still say) after mile 4, after mile 8 where Rock Rd. levels out to meet Spring Creek and mile 11 on Puddintown Rd. The last stop was more confusing than usual because it was on the same side of the road as the unofficial beer stop set up by the local hashers. With the bottleneck of runner turning onto Puddintown and cutting into 2 lanes of traffic, it was a real cluster ƒüç/< this year. May I suggest that the hospitality of the Nittany Valley Hash House Harriers move just across Houserville Road (where they park their bus) so that the brew table causes less of a problem? I guarantee folks would dart a few steps off course to grab a glass from A Dinking [sic] Club with a Running Problem, as says the header on their Website.
Soon after the beer/water stop was a section of paved bike path that I had heavily decorated with chalk messages for runners that I knew were in this race. One gal is a buddy from DailyMile and another is a great barmaid at Otto’s. I had my bike and pedaled hard to get the last couple of miles all decorated with messages to keep runners motivated while chugging up the hill toward the finish line. The Friday before, Mom & Dad came over and drove me around the course to leave a few where I thought they might not get rained on or driven over too much.
Jim saw most of the chalk drawings but missed one that I actually photographed on Rock Rd. Remember his First 10 Miler? The pixellated object that we later surprised our son and daughter-in-law with was the head of a baby-doll Jim had found on Rock Rd. I drew my best chalk rendition of it to make him laugh and remember how we hid it in their apartment. This was one he missed seeing and since it started to rain a couple of hours after the race, I am glad I took a photo of it.
Kelly from DailyMile also took a photo of the one I drew for her. This was quite near where my parents stood, holding the “Best Parade Ever” sign that Jim had made for my marathon earlier this year. They said they had a lot of nice comments from the runners as they stood there, some said they wished they could throw them some candy.
This was where the run got hard for Jim, he had a hard time starting up again after slowing to take in water at the water stop. His right knee and leg just kind of seized up and he had to really pull from within to get moving again. I was glad Mom gave me a call to let me know he was coming because he was just a bit off of his regular training pace.
I had the other “Powered by Pad Thai” sign as well as a new one I had made that said “Thirteen Point Freaking One” on it. I was joined by Lynda and her boyfriend Steve (both from Otto’s Pub) who stood with me and cheered for Jim as he came grinding up the long hill dubbed as the Spiral of Death.
I could tell he was struggling a bit but could tell he wasn’t giving in. I hoped that the chalk messages that told him to “Reel in Your Shark” was helpful. He later told me that got him to pass at least two couples that had started to slow up on the section of the hill it was on. That last half mile climb is a challenge and I forgot it is usually where Jim writes “Release the Kraken” for me. Instead, I wrote, “Finish Strong” and hoped it would help many runners.
I gave Lynda another quick congratulations on her super finish. Then I sprinted the back way to the finish line area. I had left a protein drink and bottle of Nuun water on a wall near there but I had no idea how much time I had to get in place in time to take some more photos.
I grabbed a vantage point where I could see him coming around the last turn to my left then get him crossing the finish line to my right. In the photo of him coming around the turn, in the background is the port-o-john upon which I had taped the “Thirteen Point Freaking One” poster. When I saw him, his head was down and he was being a driven ox and not giving in to his fatigue nor pain. He told me later he could see the clock time and was determined not to let it turn over to 2:10 before he crossed the line.
I yelled for him as he powered across the finish line and in the photo you can tell that his final push had others cheering for him too! The clock time in the photo is under 2:10 by a second but his official chip time was 2:09:42. Jim finished his first half marathon with real heart and drive!