The race started in Ruth Hardy Park near to where we live. This was one of the parks I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, decimated by the storm. The grounds staff have worked hard and the park has largely been cleaned up apart from the few crooked stumps, like gravestones, sadly marking deceased trees. However there are still enough trees that the race starts in the shade underneath olive trees. Sounds wonderful but it messes up the signal to my Garmin - a wonderful little GPS device that tells me how slow I'm running!
The first 1/2 marathon I ran was over 30 years ago when I was Grounds Manager at Reading University. The race started and finished on the university campus so I was involved in the organisation for some years. To my surprise the runners were just ordinary people of all ages and I decided to enter and finished. I didn't run another race until I passed my 60th birthday a couple of years ago, although I have always jogged for general exercise and found this stimulating. Running always lifts my moods and I find it valuable thinking time when I am working on my writing projects. Its also the ideal opportunity to peer over people's walls at their gardens!
The race route in Palm Springs is beautiful, passing through the old Movie Colony District past the past homes of celebrities such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. There is one long steady hill of nearly a mile that passes by beautiful desert gardens set against the San Jacinto Mountains and from there its a slow downhill back to the park. Bougainvillea, Lanatana, Citrus trees and palms line the route. It was a perfect morning with the mountains tinted pink from the sunrise and a dusting of cloud on the top just like icing sugar on a cake. Unlike the popular Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham, the race route is almost deserted - too early for the residents to observe on a Sunday morning!
Last year I didn't finish - having to abandon with a knee injury at less than 3 miles - so humiliating having to ask a police officer to borrow a phone requesting a panic pick-up by my partner Philip. This was followed by weeks of excruciating hobbling with a cane before I was even able to easily walk. The T-shirt was unworn and given to a charity shop - I hadn't the heart to wear it not having finished. This was followed by a broken foot, fortunately the opposite leg which meant six weeks in plaster and on crutches. Enough said - I'm fit again!
Not much to say about the race itself. I was mortified to be overtaken by a man running with a stroller containing two small children so picked up my pace. Lost my patience at one of the water stations which was rather slow and snapped 'C'mon. C'mon!' at a poor child who gave me a centimetre of water in a paper cup! Still had energy at 10 miles so speeded up and had the rewarding experience of overtaking the younger guys - yes - I'm so smug! Not fast but some endurance! The last mile is always a tough one and a bit of a blur but suddenly the sound of the crowd increases and I was there! My partner Philip was at the finishing line with the camera and so you can see the proof. I finished in 2 hours and 8 minutes - not a personal best but not my worst either! (Update - official timing 2.10, placing 601 out of 1075 finishers)
Champagne brunch followed ($1 a glass) and now it time for a rest!