Here's the results:
We started in the crowd, of course, so the first mile was a little slow. That's ok, since this gave me a chance to speed up towards the end AND warm up in the beginning.
These three miles blew by without much excitement. The first mile was over the Elsyian (sp?) viaduct and the next 3 were through the neighborhoods on the north side of town. It was all flat and crowded. I believe there was a water stop just after mile 2 and mile 4. At this point I'm cruising along just fine. I've fallen into a rhythm and separated myself into a nice clearing from the crowd.
These next two miles featured what little bit of terrain there is on the route. There were, if I'm not mistaken, 3 underpasses where the route drops below street level. The first one on the route is near mile 4, but these last 3 seemed to have slowed the crowd down a bit and bunched the runners back up. I remember being exceptionally crowded through the midway point until the crowd started to break up again. I also realized I had to pee real bad, but the lines at the bathrooms were all too long.
Here is where I finally decided to pee. I was thinking about needing to pee so badly I was beginning to get a cramp on my left side--which never, ever happens. So, just after mile 7 I tucked into a port-o-let that had a remarkably short line and emptied the tank. The relief was a relief, but 2 things happened at that point. My rhythm was thrown completely off which led to my times dropping off the cliff. Mile 8 is also near where I was expecting to see my lovely wife so that I could take in some frozen grapes and apple juice (the race fuel I expected to consume for a final kick). Unfortunately our timing was a bit off and I passed this point about 10 minutes before she arrived. This left me jonesing for some fuel that I had to go scavenging for further down the route.
9 & 10: 12:01.09
I was too busy scanning the crowd for my lovely wife to see the 9th mile marker. Nonethless, these three miles were by FAR the slowest on the course. Once I realized I wasn't getting my fruit yummies. I had bypassed oranges and gatorade up to this point because I was expecting to get my afore mentioned race fuel. Had I known... Needless to say I was VERY happy to grab a drink of gatorade (only 1 cup for the whole run), 2 animal crackers, 3 pretzels, and 2 orange slices during this stretch of the route. The legs were genuinely starting to feel a little leaden by the end of the 11th mile. However, things started to perk up a bit when the fruits kicked in.
This is what happens when the race fuel kicks in. The last two miles were faster than the previous 3 and I was cruising again. I was chugging down the route and into downtown when I realized that I was still tucked comfortably within the crowd. I had not been left behind, and that is a damn good feeling... until you get to the final chutes. What happens is the route gets a little narrower toward the end, which limits the amount of space you have to maneuver. All that elbow room you had a few blocks ago suddenly vanishes at the finish line. That didn't happen to me when I ran the full a few years back because it was just me and a few dozen other people finishing at the same time.
Anyway, we rolled into downtown and the finish line came into sight. That means it was time for the final kick. The girl next to me takes off a little bit, then the guy next to her takes off. Naturally I decide to give chase and put myself just ahead of both of them. She then presses forward for a couple of steps, followed immediately after him, followed once again by me. Except this second time I don't take my hand off the throttle and I juke to the left to avoid the person ahead of me and then bolt down the side. The bad part about finishing in the crowd is the very limited space you have to maneuver in. The GOOD part is ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN PASS AT THE FINISH LINE!!! I quit counting after 12. But damn I felt good.
What will I do differently before my next half marathon? Well, the next one will likely be in 3 or 4 days, so the only things I'm probably going to do very differently is pre-race fuel. I'm going to eat more fruits before taking off--probably about an hour ahead of time--to get that fuel into my system. It's remarkably liberating to know I can run a half marathon without manufactured products running through my system. Give me some grapes and a flask of apple juice and I'll do just fine.
So, now the question becomes whether or not I can break 2:00 before my birthday in June.