Chip Time: 1:49:48.6 (PR... woo hoo!)
Overall Place: 552/3830
Gender Place: 104/?
Age Division: 6/95
Not bad for a race I wasn't even sure I was going to run. When my friends asked me before the race what my goals were, I didn't even know how to answer. I knew that I wanted to run it at 1:56 or under. That is around the time that I ran La Jolla and AFC and seems to be my "sweet spot." I knew I could probably come close to my PR (1:52:46), which is an 8:37 pace. My secret desire was to run under 1:50, but I wasn't sure this was the time or the place. This was just a way station on the path to my key race in four weeks. If I pushed super hard in this race, then I might have difficulty getting back into training for the marathon on February 7.
So... my loose race plan was to start out around an 8:30 pace and see how I feel. An 8:30 pace would give me a PR and I had run some tempo runs at that pace pretty comfortably. I knew that it would give me room to speed up or slow down as the race progressed in order to finish strong. The other part of my race plan was to stay relaxed and focus on running the tangents. I usually tack on at least .1 or .2 miles (or more) due to weaving and taking turns too wide.
Heidi and Odessa were running their first half marathons. Neither one had trained as much as they would have liked and were a bit nervous. Heidi was hoping to finish under 2:45 and Odessa in 2:30. They both had good race plans that included some walk breaks. Odessa's step-father, Rod, who I often run with on Saturday mornings, was running with them. I was really excited for them and briefly considered running with them, but opted against it. I was running this in lieu of a sixteen mile progression run, so I wanted it to be a high quality run for me.
Heidi and I with the start in the background. The longest run Heidi had ever done was ten miles, and that was in November!
I had set out a long sleeved top and capris to wear, but when I woke up, my computer said it was already close to 60 (instead of the upper 40's I was expecting). I quickly switched to shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. When we arrived to the race, it felt colder than it did at home (closer to the ocean?). I threw on my arm warmers and was good to go. I love those things!*
It was a smaller race than I had run, but still a decent size. There were around 4000 runners and we ended up lining up near the middle. I was happy that they had chips. Apparently, this year was the first year for chip timing. There was quite a bit of weaving, but not as bad as other races I have run. It opened up rather quickly and I felt like I was getting into a groove. I started enjoying my music and running really easily. That mile was 8:24.
The next two miles felt effortless. My feet barely hit the ground and I was feeling strong. My music was good and it was a beautiful day. I was pretty sure that I couldn't keep that up for the entire 13.1 miles. I decided to slow it down a bit and keep it to my 8:30 pace. Miles 2 and 3 were 8:17 and 8:14.
The race was a series of out-and-backs. Also, we would run onto a bike path along the river, up across a bridge and then along the same portion on the other side. Around mile three, I was looking across the river for my friends and I saw Rod and Odessa. Heidi saw me and waved and yelled my name, I heard her, but didn't see her. She was wearing a white t-shirt and black shorts-- hard to distinguish her from other runners. Rod and Odessa were wearing colors and were easier to see. At that point, I think they were around ten minutes behind me.
I ran the next few miles at my planned pace. Miles 4-10 were all just under 8:30. I started to get a bit tired during some of the middle miles. I was actually a little bored. Usually I like to strike up a conversation with runners around me and everyone seemed pretty focused. Then I met Richard.
Richard is 74 years old. He struck up a conversation somewhere around mile 7. I said that it was a beautiful day for a run. He flirted a bit with me. In fact, if he was 30 years younger, it would have been creepy, but he was charming. He stopped for some water and we parted ways. Soon, however, he zipped past me gesturing for me to follow. Ironically, my energy level was low at that point and seeing a smiling face encouraging me to speed up a bit was just what I needed. If a 74 year old man can keep up that pace, I certainly could! He was ahead of me for quite a while and whenever I spotted him, it motivated to keep going. Thanks, Richard! It turns out that we finished right around the same time (and he won his age group!).
Besides the 74 year old man, I had another motivator during the race. Sometime in those middle miles, I passed a woman wearing Crocs. Yes, you read correctly... CROCS--the ugly plastic shower shoes that really only look good on children under 10. Hers were pink with Mickey Mouse holes. I marveled at how they stayed on her feet. Don't they flip off? I was going to ask her about it, but when we made eye contact, I got the feeling that she wouldn't appreciate questions. Heck, if I was running a half marathon in pink Crocs, I'd be bragging to everyone; "yup, they're pink! I'm awesome!" LOL. Looking back, I wish I would have struck up a conversation with her. I might have learned a thing or two. But then again, I might not have been as motivated to beat her.
Well... she and I went back and forth for a while. I passed her and then she passed me. I swear I would look over my shoulder and there she was. It was like she picked out my coral t-shirt and made me her motivation. I just couldn't let a woman in Crocs beat me. I'd be pretty impressed, but it would hit my ego a bit. I couldn't seem to shake her. When I started feeling myself slow down, there she was. It was enough to motivate me to keep going. I think the last time I saw those pink sandals/slippers was around mile 11. That was when I turned it on. I am sure she came in some time just after me. I am actually pretty impressed**.
Mile 11 started out a bit sluggish. As I tried to do some math in my head, I realized that I probably needed to speed up a bit. Also, I was determined to catch up to 74-year-old Richard and to beat Croc-lady. I definitely picked it up during the second half of that mile. When I ran past the mile marker, the clock said 1:33 and change. I had less than 17 minutes to make it under 1:50.
I knew that I was going to come pretty close to completing 13.1 miles, since I had been pretty good at running the tangents. But you never know how the last couple miles are going to go. I figured that I should run closer to 8-minute-miles to make it. I was a woman with a mission. Mile 12 felt good. Mile 13, on the other hand, started to hurt. For the first time during the race, I felt pain. The last 3/4 of a mile hurt pretty good. I ran mile 12 in 8:02 and Mile 13 in 8:08. The last .18*** was a 6:52 pace! I was thrilled that I was able to finish so strong.
I ran across the finish line with 1:50:xx on the clock. I stopped my Garmin at 1:49:51. I was thrilled beyond belief. My friend, Lori, was there and said that she was surprised to see me so soon. I didn't give her the impression that I was going to go for a fast time. She expected me a few minutes later.
She and I found a nice spot along the finish straight-away to wait for Rod, Odessa and Heidi. Odessa had a goal of 2:30 and Heidi's goal was 2:45, so I left Lori for a few minutes to grab some food. The spread for this race was pretty great. There were the standard bananas, oranges and plain bagels. They also had yummy cookies, some jalapeno bagels with some flavor, and hummus! While I normally love hummus, it didn't sound super appealing. I scarfed down on the oranges and cookies. Mmmmm.... carbs. I went back a little later and ate a jalapeno bagel.
Right around 2:30 (2:28:39 to be exact), Odessa and Rod finished. She looked great. It was her first half, so I screamed like a crazy woman. I was excited for her. At 10:15 (the race started at 8), Heidi texted me a simple "11" letting me know she had hit the 11 mile marker. I knew that there was no way that she would be finishing the last two miles in 15 minutes, so we relaxed a bit to wait for her. She made her goal of running it under 2:45 (2:44:23)! I was really proud of her!
Heidi on the home stretch****
It was a great race. I didn't have high expectations. It is not a well-known race like the Triple Crown races in San Diego. Rod has run it several times and told me that it wasn't the most scenic race and they didn't give medals. I was pleasantly surprised, however. I think the scenery was enhanced by the beautiful weather. We ran along a dry river bed and some roads in a somewhat industrial part of town (there seemed to be a lot of warehouse type businesses). But there was a lot of landscaping, making it nice. And they gave out medals! They were small medals, but medals nonetheless. Score! I suppose I will have a soft spot in my heart for this race since it is now the site of my half marathon PR.
I am very happy with my performance. I didn't do any speedwork to speak of. I did one or two tempo runs and a couple of speedy laps around the track, but no real speed sessions. When I told my husband how fast I ran my last two miles, he suggested that I left a bit out on the course; that I could have probably run it faster. I think that I probably could have, but I have no regrets. I ran it exactly the way I wanted to. Maybe after I run this marathon, I'll train for a half marathon to go for a faster time. Maybe not. I think getting a PR unexpectedly is way better than training for one and barely getting it or missing it altogether. I hate the pressure.
I have four weeks until the Surf City Marathon. My confidence level is much higher than it was a week ago. I still have a long way to go. I need to get in another LONG run (22 miles) and stay healthy. I am starting to get excited.
*It was warm enough that I took them off by mile four. I just tied them to my hydration belt.
**Through the magic of internet cyber-stalking, I think I found my Croc-lady. If I am correct, she finished just under two minutes behind me (and third in her age group!). Here she is: http://crocrunner.blogspot.com/2008/03/thanks-to-crocs-i-can-run-again.html. I wish she were still blogging.
***somehow I picked up .08 mile in the last two miles.
****I stole this picture from Odessa's facebook page. I would have posted the picture of her finish, but I haven't really asked her permission to post her picture. I posted the one with me in it because... well... it was taken with my phone and I'm in it. ;-)