Sunday, October 24, 2010

Columbia Gorge Half Marathon 2010 - The Rainbow and the Asphalt

This rainbow appearing near Hood River, Oregon today signaled that the god of the Bible would not drown mankind -- or perhaps only that the sunlight was striking airborne water particles with a strikingly beautiful result -- during the Columbia Gorge half marathon, which I ran and completed in a time of 97:42 (7:27 min/mile pace, official).

That time is a little slower than I was hoping for, but then again, I have a pretty good excuse, or a pretty bad excuse, depending on how you look at it -- I took a fall on the asphalt shortly before the mile 12 marker. I had wisely decided to run the last four miles as fast as I could, and it so happens that on this course, the last bit of mile 11 consists of a pretty sharp downhill ending with a 90-degree turn. Just as I saw the pylon marking the point of the turn and decided, in the name of sportsmanship, to run around it rather than cut the corner with a more gradual arc -- just at the instant I formed and concluded that mini-thought and planted my left foot for the turn (or tried to), I was on the wet ground. As it was with my bike calamity of '09, there was no dramatic slowing of time, no replay-of-scenes-from-life, just a sudden realization that I was down on the hard, rain-soaked ground rather than passing over it.

It wasn't so bad. I re-removed a portion of skin from my left knee (see post-treatment photo, whose orientation has a mind of its own), and gave myself a delightful bruised area on my ribs whose own rainbow of yellows, blues, grays, and browns is still evolving, and put some minor road-rash on my hands and forearms, but it was nothing serious. I even managed to protect my sunglasses somehow, which I was carrying in my left hand at the time.

A race volunteer was nearby to assist me as I got back to my feet and collected my thoughts for a long enough pause to determine that I had not done any serious damage. Sadly, it was also long enough to let four runners I had worked very hard to pass regain the lead over me, and by the time I reached the finish, I had only re-passed two of them. To be clear, all of them did exactly as I would have done -- keep running, especially if the volunteers were addressing the situation with the clumsy runner who couldn't stay on his feet.

Whatever it says about me, I don't consider this a bad turn of events. It has re-taught me the importance of ensuring sure footing when making sharp turns on wet ground. The fall is what I will always remember about this race, and I expect those memories to be fond ones all the way through, scars and all. I honestly hope someone took some video of the tumble, as I expect it looked pretty slapstick-funny to anyone not in my shoes. From my shoes, it didn't look like much -- just a very sudden change in perspective. 

After I finished, the helpful people in the first aid tent were there to clean and bandage me up, and after that, it was only a matter of taking in the excellent post-race food and treats. This year's event was noticeably larger in number of participants, so whatever they did to promote the race was a success, and yet the organization was just as tight and the provisions just as generous.

As always, I offer my sincere gratitude to the organizers and volunteers, and I congratulate all my fellow runners.

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