Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Walnut Creek International Half Marathon & 5k

I signed up for this race because it's close to home and I love supporting local races. I chose the 5k distance so that I could scope out the race organization and determine if I want to run the 1/2 marathon next year.

 On Friday I headed to the expo to pick-up my bib and goodies. I was in and out in about 10 minutes. The only booth I stopped at was the ZICO booth to grab some chocolate coconut water. I think if it's your first go around at an expo they are more fun. My first expo was the Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon in Vegas, it was ginormous, I think everything sort of pales in comparison to that. I picked up my shirt on they way out (which is a really cute long sleeve tech shirt) and headed home.

With all of the craziness that took place the night before ( 7 year old tantrums, husband falling asleep and leaving me with said 7 year old tantrum) I some how only halfway managed to set my alarm, which means I really didn't. I was in the edit screen of changing the alarm time and never hit "done" before I went to sleep. Miraculously, I woke up at 5:20 am, the exact time I thought I had set my alarm for. I got up and did my usual race day morning routine. I wasn't able to stomach my usual chocolate cheerios for breakfast. This didn't raise any alarm as sometimes on race morning my stomach has other ideas about eating so early. I grabbed a banana on the way out the door instead.

Not being sure what to expect for race day parking considering the 1/2 started a half hour before the 5k I arrived to downtown Walnut Creek around 6:15 am, just as I parked the car Mary Sue sent me a text that she had arrived also. We sat in my car for about half an hour to try and stay warm before heading out. Once we decided we were willing to brave the cold temperatures (I believe it was around 37 degrees when I left the house) we headed over to the start just in time to watch the 1/2 marathoners start. I was amazed at how fast the front of the pack was running, it was impressive.

Once we reluctantly checked our jackets I manged to eat about 1/2 my banana before posing for a picture.

Right after this was taken Berenice found us and we headed over to the 5k start. I knew that the course would be congested since this was the old Turkey Trot course, which was fine. I knew in order to keep myself from having a coughing attack that I would need to run a slower pace, so a congested start helps with that. As soon as we made the first right turn onto the trail we slowed to a walk. I kept to a slow easy pace and passed only when it was easy to do so. As we approached the Ygnacio Valley pedestrian bridge there was a  woman who was pushing a stroller and her child was asking why they were running slow. She was explaining how the course was crowded and that they would be able to pass once it cleared out. This made me laugh, because clearly she was saying it loud enough and hoping that the three runners in front of us who were running three wide in their matching shirts would hear and stop running three wide. They weren't getting the message. I ran up right behind them and said "excuse me, can I please squeeze though?", to which they parted and let me pass. This is me working on my runners etiquette instead of being grumpy about people running three wide.

At some point along the way I was certain I had run one mile but my watch had not buzzed alerting me to my first lap, so I peeked at my watch to see I had only run .80 miles. Ouch, that's when I knew it was going to hurt. I focused on just running slow and holding off any coughing. At any point that I felt that little tickle in my throat, I slowed down. Along the way I experienced lots of muscle fatigue, aches from previous workouts and just in general was not feeling great. It made me slightly sad, because I wanted to come out and have fun, not feel like crap. Even with all of this I was passing people, so I tried to just focus on moving forward.

In the last mile of the course we hit the muddy trail. In last year's Turkey Trot Scott had to run this portion and he kept complaining about the mud and how slippery it was, I think that was the point in his 10k when he hit the wall. Running in mud takes a toll on your form as you try to slow down and acclimate to the conditions in order to avoid slipping or falling. I focused on finding the driest part of the trail and running there, when there was not a dry portion I ran to the right of the path on the leaves and foliage that was growing to help with traction.

I knew that I needed to save energy to get up and over the Ygnacio Valley pedestrian bridge, so I took a short walk break so that I could run up the bridge and have never felt such relief as when I reached the top and got to run back down the other side of the bridge. I was in the home stretch and that felt good. There were two women running together that I had been following who were literally running in unison, they had the same form and matching headbands to go with their matching pace. I knew that the grass finish would be difficult, so I decided to pass them right before we hit the grass. They seemed surprised to be passed but didn't alter their pace any.

I crossed the finish line with the most relief I have had in a long time to be done with a 5k run.

glad to be done
I finished this 5k three minutes slower than the Turkey Trot, I knew I would need to run conservative in order to finish and that's what I did. Amazingly my finish ranked me 10/37 in my AG.

This week I am resting up to try and fully recover from whatever this super bug is that I have in order to run the Dam Jingle Bell Run with my 7 year old daughter and a couple of the girls from our Mini Mermaid Running Club. Should be fun.