Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Laguna Hills Half Marathon Race Report

First lesson learned:  no matter how many half marathons you run, you still need to respect the distance.  It is not necessarily a walk in the park.

I didn’t do any of the race preparation that I have done in the past.  I didn’t taper at all.  In fact, I ran eight miles two days before.  Since this wasn’t a key race for me, I felt like running longer runs close together was better for my training.

I also didn’t fuel my body well at all.  We went to a barbecue on Sunday afternoon.  I had typical barbecue food of burgers, chips and soda.  I ate lunch around 2 or 3 and snacked the rest of the day.  I also indulged in a delicious margarita.  I tried to tell myself that it was carbo loading, but I knew better.  When we went home around 8 p.m., I was full from snacking and too tired and lazy to fix myself anything that would be good for the race the next morning.

I didn’t have any race plan to speak of.  I knew I wanted to run it under two hours and I knew that I would like to run it under 1:55. I was hoping to run faster than I did in Palos Verdes Half Marathon; however, I wasn’t even sure what pace that was.  I had no idea how fast to go out on this race. 
Despite my lack of preparation, I am very happy with my performance.  I would have liked to have run faster than PV, since Laguna Hills was technically a bit easier, but I came pretty darn close (I ran Monday’s race a minute slower).

Monday morning, I woke up bright and early.  I hadn’t registered yet, so I had to make it there with time to spare.  My plan was to leave the house around 5:30.  It was about a half hour drive.  I left a little later than that and arrived about 6:10.  Perfect.  The starting line is at a mall, so there was plenty of parking.  The registration process was quick and painless.

I went directly to the porta potty lines, knowing that I usually need two trips.  I texted Penny to find out where she was.  We had both run Palos Verdes and never hooked up, so I wanted to make sure to see her.  While I was scanning the crowd, I saw Glenn.  He didn’t look particularly chipper, and gave me a small wave and smile.  He told me that Penny was looking for me.  I found her in line with her friend Yasmin, who was running the 5K.  I chatted with them and ogled over Yasmin’s adorable baby and then we made our way to the starting line.  We wished each other good wishes and were off. 
laguna hills pre race 1
laguna hills pre race pictures stolen from Penny’s blog.  :-)
It was very crowded at the beginning.  The 5K and Half Marathon started together.  Since we got to the starting area at the last minute, this meant that I was weaving around strollers and walkers.  I didn’t get annoyed with that.  If I had wanted to start out fast, I could have started further up in the starting corral.
I started out feeling pretty good.  My legs felt good and I was able to get into a nice rhythm quickly, despite the crowds.  I started feeling like I could even beat my Carlsbad Half Marathon time.  I was getting cocky about the hills.  They were nice, gradual hills and I wasn’t losing too much time while running up them.
I was in a good mood.  I was smiling and thanking volunteers.  As the 5Kers went off into their finishing chute, I cheered for them.  Things were looking good.
After a few miles, I noticed that I was sweating quite a bit.  I took a couple of Endurolyte tablets.  I don’t have a good plan for these.  I know that when I take them, it helps me avoid those post-race headaches and keeps away cramps, for the most part, but I take them intermittently, when I feel I need them, instead of at a specified interval.  I need to get a better plan, because I think taking a few more might have prevented the pain I am feeling in my calf yesterday and today.  If you take salt/electrolyte tablets, how many do you take and how often?
For the first half of the race, there was a nice cloud cover.  It was really pleasant at around 60 degrees.  I felt good.  Then the sun came out.  I immediately thought of Penny and how she was probably cursing.  I was cursing myself as that sun made it seem ten times hotter.
Just when I was thinking to myself that it wasn’t a super scenic race, the course went on to a path and then down into a beautiful canyon.  There was a nice downhill, but I soon realized that we would have to come out of that same canyon, which meant uphill. 
Lagunahills half marathon Lagunahills half marathon2
Laguna hills half marathon self portrait
Running downhill into the canyon
There were a couple of out-and-back portions during the bike path portion.  I like looking for people I know and checking out all the different people and their styles.  Sometimes I wonder how people can run 13.1 miles dressed the way they do.  Seriously, a black long-sleeved top on a hot sunny day?  Crazy.

I saw Glenn around mile seven or eight.  He looked good and I estimated that he was about eight minutes behind me.  That means he was on pace to run in the low 2’s.  I wished him well.   About five minutes later, I saw Penny.  If my estimations were correct, she was on pace for a great race too!  I told her that she looked great as we ran by each other.

It was right after that the sun came out in full force.  Even though I was sweating quite a bit, I never thought to take more Endurolytes.  I was carrying Vitalyte with me, but I think it was too diluted since I had ice in the bottle when I filled it.  My calf started cramping right around mile ten.

The next few miles were tough.  This is where I realized that I had underestimated how tough a half marathon can be.  I had taken it too lightly.  These last few miles seemed to only go uphill.  I know there were downhill sections, but it just seemed to climb and climb and climb.  Right after the twelve mile marker, the path went through a shady area, which was heaven.  At this point I was ready to be done.

You can see on my splits below** that I slowed down after mile ten, but what the splits don’t show is how much harder those miles were.  I felt like I was working ten times harder to keep the pace under 8:45 (and wasn’t successful every mile)

I had looked at the elevation profile*** and knew it was a hilly course.  I even noticed that there was a hill at the end.  That seems fine and dandy when you are sitting at your computer contemplating running a race.  When it is approaching 80 degrees and you are starting to cramp and you have no more energy due to poor eating the day before, a hill at the end of a half marathon is nothing short of torture.  As my Garmin is nearing the 13 mile mark* I knew that I was nearing the end.  A spectator yelled that we were almost done and to “kick it to the end.”   I looked up toward the steepest hill of the day.   You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.  I commented to runners around me that the race director was a mean, mean person.  No one commented back… I think they were as disheartened as I was.  Seriously?  The steepest incline right at the end??  The finish line was not the triumphant sprint that I like, but a monumental effort to pass as many people as I could (it was the only way I could push myself).

As I came into the finish line, I heard my name for the very first time in a race!  Three marathons and ten half marathons and this was the first time I heard the announcer call my name.  He even pronounced it correctly.  I pumped my fists in the air out of excitement and he even commented, “Lisa is excited today!”

Chip Time—1:54:39
Gun Time—1:56:33
Gender Place—84/582
Division Place—12/93

I wandered around the expo a bit.  I ate some oranges and bananas**** and grabbed a muffin from Souplantation.  I even got myself a free five minute massage.  I went to pick up my shirt and they were out of my size.  They were nice tech shirts, but the medium is huge.  I stopped by the Long Beach Marathon booth and chatted with Danica for a few minutes.  I think I am going to run Long Beach and try to BQ (but that is another post entirely).

I finally made it over to the beer garden to wait for Penny, Yasmin and Glenn.  I grabbed a yummy BJ’s red ale (so happy not to have light beer!) and chatted with another runner for a while.  Penny, Glenn and Yasmin made it over and they told me their horror stories.  We all shared some great conversation.
Laguna hills half marathon post race
After everything is said and done, it was a good day.  I ran a strong race and pushed myself at the end.  I didn’t finish faster than my last half marathon, but I did come in under the goal that I told myself I wanted (1:55).  What more can I ask for?  I am very happy that I can now consistently run 13.1 miles under two hours.  Two years ago, that would have never crossed my mind.

Happy Running…

*I was about .2 long for much of the race due to crowded conditions at the start.
mile 1- 8:56 (a lot of congestion and walkers)
mile 2- 8:32
mile 3- 8:23
mile 4- 8:20
mile 5- 8:39
mile 6- 8:23
mile 7- 8:29
mile 8- 8:39
mile 9- 8:30
mile 10- 8:48
mile 11- 8:41
mile 12- 8:34
mile 13- 8:23 (I am not sure the last time I have worked quite that hard.  I was actually wheezing up that hill, but pushed it hard)
.3—8:25 pace
Elevation Profile
Laguna hills elevation profile 
**Glenn and Penny reported that they were out of food when they got there. That sucks!


L.B. said...

Great job. Even though you weren't in your best frame of mind before the race, you still powered through and got a good time. I'd love to have that as my PR!

Hope Fontana goes well for you.

Char said...

The splits for the last 3 miles weren't as bad as what I expected. Sure you slowed a little but it could have been worse. Great job on the race.

abbi said...

Congrats on a great race and meeting your goal!

Unknown said...

congratulations! well done.

and i don't user salt or electrolyte tabs, but I drink nuun and haven't had cramps since...

Glenn Jones said...

Congrats on a great race Lisa! I think the *worst* though was even after that last hill, we had to turn and run *up* the driveway into the finish. Yikes! My calves are still sore!

Aron said...

congrats on another half!!! i have taken the 13.1 distance for granted too - its still far!

i take salt caps and i usually take one ~15 min before, then around every hour, but i make sure to not take them the same time as gu.

misszippy said...

Great job! Just think what you could do if you tapered?!

Anonymous said...

You know, I'm part way through composing a post about lessons learned and one of mine was the same lesson you mentioned at the top. I laughed out loud when I read that!

I need to get into a better pattern for taking endurolytes too. How do you carry them? One time I had them in a small plastic tube (actually, an emtpy ZipFizz tube) and they turned into powder so I couldn't use them.

Perhaps someday I'll be able to run halfs consistently under 2 hours!

Lindsay said...

well i am impressed after "fueling" on bbq/snacks and a margarita! i have never tried taking any sort of tablets so i can't help you there, sorry! congrats on the half though, sounds like a good race to me.

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