Tuesday, August 18, 2009

America's Finest City Half Marathon Race Report

All in all, it was a great day!! I had fun with my friends and reached my GOLD goal.

Pre-Race
It started VERY early. I woke up at 3:10 a.m. YIKES. I was meeting Lisa, Heather and Lyn at 4:30 to drive down to the park together. Even getting up an hour before leaving the house, I didn't quite "take care of business" like I wanted to. Damn. That means ppp*

After last year's traffic hassle, we drove a different way to the park. It was easy peasy to get to the park and find parking. We met the other Rockin' Mamas near the bus pick up. Everyone was in great spirits. I was in the best mood. A combination of caffeine on very little sleep** combined with excitement of all my friends running this race made me a tad manic.

Most of us were wearing a matching Stroller Strides tank top. It was great having matching shirts. HOWEVER, we had no idea that the race shirts would be the same color. Seriously?? How jacked up is that? Do you know how hard it is to find cranberry tank tops during the out-and-back portion of the race when thousands of people are wearing the cranberry race jersey? Next time, I need to talk everyone into wearing day-go like Alice and the Heffers.
Lisa F is ready to go!!












The other Rockin' Mamas started showing up












There were ten of us, but we couldn't manage to get a picture of all of us (my friend Pham was in the bathroom when we took the big group pic).





























We got on a bus to Cabrillo Monument, where the race began, which was a piece of cake. We arrived at the starting area well before 6 a.m. and used the porta potties several times.

It was chilly in the morning (chilly for Southern California standards) Heather, Lisa and Lyn shivered while Alicia danced.















The Start
We were in line for the porta potties for one last time. The line was painfully slow. After last year's debacle, I didn't want to chance it. When we got back to the rest of the group, several of them had already gone to the front. I never heard the gun go off, but suddenly the crowd started moving. I ended up crossing the starting line around seven minutes after the gun.

The first mile started out fine. I looked down at my Garmin and saw an 8:30 pace. I saw that Anne and Pham were almost at that pace. I slowed down to join them and told them how fast they were going. I didn't want them to start out too fast. I knew that Pham was much more comfortable closer to ten-minute-miles. Anne can easily do 8:30, but her goal was sub two hours and I wanted her to make that goal and not die on the hill. Then I remembered that I was running a race and not in "coach" mode. I wished them good luck and sped up a bit.

Sometime during that mile, I saw the day-glo top of AKA Alice. She looked great! Really strong. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "hi!" I thought for a moment that she might not recognize me and would wonder who this strange woman with the manic smile was running alongside her. She smiled and said hi. I asked how she was feeling and she said she was great. She is definitely back from her injury. She ran a great race and you can read her race report here.

By the second mile, I knew that a PR was probably not in the cards. I ended up running the first mile in 8:50, between weaving around runners and "coaching" my friends. To PR, I'd have to make up that time. To PR, an 8:30 pace should feel pretty effortless. It wasn't. In fact, I was falling comfortably into around an 8:35 pace. To go faster than that would have been pushing myself. I didn't want to push too hard too early, since there is a pretty decent hill at the end. I was still on pace for a pretty decent race, however, so I wasn't ready to throw in the towel.

As I approached the first aid station, I ran right through. Afterward, I realized that I completely forgot to look for Irene. D'oh! It was crazy. The entire field was so crowded. I swear I was weaving around runners the entire race. I probably should have lined up closer to the front, but I don't have any regrets. I spent some quality time with my friends (ah... porta potty lines) instead of pushing my way up through the crowd.

The fourth mile is pretty much all downhill. I had my fastest mile of the race (8:00). I was feeling good, but not great. After that mile I thought, "maybe?" But alas...I wouldn't see another split that fast until the very end.

Miles 5 through 10--
These are the flat miles. I was feeling tired, but I enjoyed them so much more than I did last year. Harbor Island is a little spit of land that we run around. It is a bit of an out and back. Last year, it felt like it was 100 degrees. This year, while sweating like a pig, I did not feel overly hot. I looked at the crowd as I passed, hoping to find my friend, Laura. We had run this stretch during a couple of training runs. During those runs, we ran all the way to the end of Harbor Island. Imagine my delight when we turned around well before the end. I enjoyed the gorgeous view of the city and really appreciated the beauty of San Diego.

After Harbor Island, past the rental car return lot---the most boring part of the entire race-- I settled into a nice easy pace. Right around mile 10, I saw my friend Linda cheering from the sidelines. She is 36 weeks pregnant and getting to the uncomfortable stage of her pregnancy. It was so sweet of her to come out and cheer for her fellow Rockin' Mamas. She ran the race last year and I vividly remember her passing me on 6th street, looking fresh as a daisy with a spring in her step.

Miles 10-13.1 (or 13.34 if you are terrible at running tangents and weaving around slower runners)--
Here is where the hills start. I was just thrilled to death that I didn't feel as bad as I did last year at this point. I looked at the porta potties that saved me last year, thankful that I didn't need them again. The aid station right past mile 10 is a fun one. They had music blasting and were handing out cheeseburgers. They didn't sound too appetizing at the time.

By the time I turned onto A street to head uphill, the sun was out and beating full force. This was really starting to feel like work. We had run these hills several times in training and this felt the most difficult. I was already passing quite a few people, however. I wondered if they knew that it was going to get even harder. As I turned onto 6th street, I knew that I was almost done. I also knew that I had some work to do to get there.

Right before mile 12 is my friend, Anne's building. That is where we had our after-party. Several of the dads got together early to walk down to 6th street to cheer us on. I saw Kenny about a half a block before I got there. I waved at him and he gathered up the kids to be ready for me. I took the opportunity to stop for a few seconds to hug them, catch my breath and go on my way. It was great!

I found out later that my sweet hubby stayed out there and waited for all the Rockin' Mamas. He really wanted to cheer for Heather, who was about 45 minutes behind me. What a guy! Heather's husband missed her by a few minutes due to technical difficulties***, so I am so glad for her that she had friendly faces cheering for her during the hardest part of the race. She told me that it meant a lot to her to see them.

The hill was tough. I had run that hill so many times. In fact, during training runs I would run it several times. I ran with one friend and then ran back down to run up it with another friend. The hill didn't scare me at all. Maybe it should have. Where I could easily run up it near the end of fifteen miles at a 9:30 pace, on race day I ran it well over a 10 minute pace. Hmmm...

Once I got up to the top of the hill, I caught my breath and charged forward for the final portion of the race. I hit "lap" on my Garmin, so I would know how fast I ran the last part. I ended up running it at an 8:04 pace. Yeah! I just kept gaining speed and passing people like crazy. I knew exactly where the course turned and headed downhill (I know Balboa Park like the back of my hand). I knew that if I made it to the turn, I could sprint down the hill. About a hundred yards from the finish, I saw/heard my friend Vickie cheering me in.

I heard the announcer and really wanted to hear my name. I have yet to hear my name finishing a race. I took my headphones off as I sprinted into the finish. Nope. No name. I think you have to be old, young or from far away. I thought that maybe since I had a Triple Crown bib on, it might get a nod. Oh well... someday.

I finished in 1:56:13. It is eight minutes faster than I ran the same race last year. It is also 25 seconds faster than I ran La Jolla in April. I think this race felt harder. I'm not sure why, since La Jolla has the KILLER hill. Who knows why you run better one day than the other. I am thrilled that I am in a place where even when I don't have a fantastic day, I can finish with a good time. I am happy with my time, especially considering how hard the race felt. That PR is pretty close. I just need a day when I am "on." Maybe once we are settled in a new place and I am actually living in the same county as my husband, I will be able to focus on training and speedwork again. It will happen.

After the race--
I went to join Vickie to cheer in a few of the Rockin' Mamas. I found out that Anne came in a couple of minutes behind me. Had I known that, I think I would have slowed down to finish with her. It would have made that hill so much easier. I would have felt pretty much the same with a 1:58 as I did with 1:56. But there was no way of knowing that she was so close to me. I am SO impressed with her. She had a baby in April. OF. THIS. YEAR. Yup... this woman ran a sub-two hour half marathon four months after giving birth. That is awesome!!!

After a bit, we wandered down to the finish festival area. I picked up my Triple Crown medal. They give you these if you complete the Carlsbad, La Jolla and America's Finest City Half Marathons in a calendar year. Honestly, it was a big factor in deciding to sign up for this race. It is some nice bling!! It is big and heavy. I think it is a brilliant marketing scheme. For a few dollars per medal, they create a goal for runners. After seeing mine, most of my friends decided to go for it next year. Heather is kicking herself for not running Carlsbad this year, since she did the other two.

We then all went back across the park to Anne's for a wonderful after party. We had quiche, casserole, fruit, bagels and MIMOSAS. It was my first time having a post run mimosa. Now I know why the Heffers enjoy them so much! Yummy. They (yes, I had more than one) hit the spot! The kids all ran around the community house and had a grand ol' time, while the moms and dads socialized. I think everyone was celebrating an accomplishment that day****. It was really the perfect way to cap off a great day.


We took some pictures at the after party, but unfortunately, got the cameras out after some of the girls had already left. We definitely need to do it again!
























*porta potty pooping *blush*

** I haven't slept well in over a week. SIGH.
***getting two young girls fed, dressed and out the door in a timely fashion.
****a few shout outs to my Rockin' Mamas: Alicia, Pham, and Lisa completed their first half marathons. Heather took 10 minutes off her time from La Jolla. Jenna and Christina (and Anne, previously mentioned) were doing their first race since having a baby. My marathon training partner, Laura, ran an impressive 1:50. Vickie, our veteran runner, killed it with a 1:43!

17 comments:

Aka Alice said...

Silly...of course I recognized you!!! Love your race report. I knew you had a GOLD day...And I'm glad that all your runners did well too. You are clearly a great coach!

It's a tough race to PR in since they don't really hold people to starting in pace groups. I mean, I was passing people in the first two miles who were already walking...and you passed ME! So you had to just know that there were some slow runners up front (and I didn't think we were that far up)!

Yay for post-race mimosas! Aren't they THE BEST! We're going to have to plan to have one together at some point!

Irene said...

It was a bit overwhelming at that aid station #1! I saw the burgundy tank tops and knew one of those had to be you!

As Cindi said, AFC is hard to get a PR at, and it is a challenge. You had a really great finish time. I guess the thing to do for a race like this one is to just go with the flow!

Congratulations on completing the triple crown and getting the extra bling! I'll have to go for it some day.

Oz Runner said...

great race report, love the pics.... and congrats on the triple crown! way to go!...that's awesome about your friend Anne, what a great race so soon after giving birth...

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

great job. love the pics, what a fun group!!

and congrats on the triple crown medal also. woot!

Marlene said...

Congrats Lisa! Sounds like a great race!

MCM Mama said...

Great report and great job!! How fun to have an awesome group of women to run with!

MCM Mama

Angela said...

Amazing race, Lisa!!! Even though I am not a runner, I enjoy reading about it (less work that way, LOL), and I can't wait to read this to my husband later. He's the runner. ;)

That is GREAT to do the same race eight minutes faster than last year!

WTG!!!

4 Fortunes said...

Lisa, perhaps if you register with an address from Bangladesh, Romania, Croatia (you get the idea) you will hear your name crossing the finish line.

Congrats on yet another awesome finish!

aron said...

soooooo awesome!!!! CONGRATS on the huge PR!!!

RunnerMom said...

Great race report! I'm excited you met your GOLD goal!

So, the verdict on the new kind of training is.... it works? Slower miles, higher mileage and you were within 25 secs. of a PR?

Irish Cream said...

YAY for you! I so admire the fact that you have gotten to that place where you pull off GREAT times even on your "off" days . . . I'm still working on trying to find just one of those good times in the half (and the marathon too, for that matter)! But seriously, great job out there, Lisa! Meeting your gold goal on a tough course is something to be REALLY proud of!

And for the record, I have yet to hear my name while crossing the finishline of any race . . . why don't they like us?! :)

Congrats again!!

Kristin said...

Great race Lisa! I read your entry first thing yesterday morning on my blackberry, but too hard to comment there. I think it is so amazing that you can easily finish under two hours even when you are not running your fastest! And of course, your pace was faster than you give yourself credit for if you actually ended up running 13.34 miles! :) Thanks for the birthday wishes yesterday. Now that the Anacortes half is over, I have two or three races coming up in September. (I signed up for them in the excitement of good training runs earlier this summer. :) They are the Fairhaven 15K (Bellingham) on Sept. 12, the Bellingham Half Marathon on Sept. 27, and probably a YMCA 5-mile race in between, on the 19th. No time to slack off now! :)

workout mommy said...

how FUN! Thanks for sharing, it looks like you all had a great time!

SDrunner said...

This was a really great race report. I have been considering running races longer than 5K. I think the only reason I placed so well in the 5K was because everybody else was running the half. When I saw the Triple Crown medals (http://www.dailymile.com/people/SDrunner/photos/8028) I think that finally convinced me to start training for the half. Congrats on your finish!!

jillwillrun said...

I have been eager to read your report for a while, just was so swamped with work last week!

I'm so glad you had such a good race. Meeting one of your goals, having fun on the course, sharing it with so many friends and getting some great bling... it all sounds amazing!

And your friend Anne is seriously inspiring to me!

Amanda said...

What a great report! That sounds like so much fun running with a big group of friends. Post-race or long-run mimosas are the best!!

Terri said...

As always, Lisa, your times are really impressive. And even on a not "on" day in your mind. I don't know how you're keeping it all together.

for the record, I think I only have one cranberry colored running shirt, and it's definitely not a tank! those are rare!

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