Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Lucky Run Half Marathon

Half marathon training has served as a good reminder for me on why I only do one of these every other year. I found training this year to be physically more difficult than in past years. Not that in particular the runs were any more difficult but mostly my body was having a harder timer recovering from those runs. I believe it's mostly in part to me actually running the entire distances. This was the first time that I didn't have to walk any portion of my training runs. I also ran all of the hills, including the one mile uphill back to my house at the end of every training run. The first time I made it into see my sports masseuse I was in the worst shape she had ever seen me in. I spent the last three weeks of training trying to be super diligent about stretching and foam rolling and letting her torture my lower body for an hour.

In the days leading up to the race I actually felt like I was going to vomit at any given point from nerves. When my husband asked me if I was nervous about beating my time, I explained that I was actually pretty confident that I would beat my time, but I was more nervous about getting hurt in the process. I also had set a big goal in terms of a finish time, and while I knew I would PR, I didn't want to just beat my time, I wanted to beat it big. The other part of my nerves was centered around running the entire distance without walking. I had successfully run my 10 mile training run without walking but I still would need to hold it together for an additional 3.1 miles after that. I focused on not thinking about it, the miles were in the bank and I had to just trust in myself and body that we could keep it all together. I was super thankful that at the last minute my husband was able to come along and run the 7k course.

After a terrible nights sleep in a terrible motel in Davis we made our way over to the race site. It was so easy, it was almost silly. We parked about a block from the start line under a shady tree since Tacoma would hang in the car until Scott was done with the 7k. We hung out for a little bit before I said goodbye to Scott and Tacoma to go warm-up and stretch.

Tacoma just excited to be along for the ride
As we lined up for the start, I was checking out pacers. There was supposed to be a pacer for every 5 minutes up to a 2:30 finish time. My goal for race day was to finish in 2:20, I kept looking for a 2:20 pacer, but was only able to find the 2:15 pacer and faster. I stuck close to the 2:15 pacer to see how long I could hang with her. I lost her in the first mile. That first mile felt really good, but since I had 12 more after that, I tried not to think about it too much. There were some ladies that I passed who in that first mile realized all the green bling they were wearing was too much. They tossed their green beads to course monitors to wear, who were happy to take them.

The first three miles were great and uneventful. I was running sub 10:30 miles and felt great, I was hoping I might be able to maintain that pace and have a really big day. I also knew that I didn't want to start the game of calculating finish times with only 3 miles in. I had to remind myself that I was running my own race and not worry about being passed or what might come in the future. The plan was to take in a gel every 3.5 miles. In addition to passing mile marker signs, telling yourself you have something to do every 3.5 miles is just another way to break up the long run into mini goals.

Miles 4-8 my average pace started to fall with each mile logged. I wasn't too worried as I was still running under my goal. I knew that if I just kept chugging along I would be fine and still have a great day. These were mentally the toughest miles. We ran out along Highway 113 in Davis. One side was green and the other side was freeway. I think because I knew just how far we needed to run out and how far we needed to run back to get to mile 8 is what mentally made it difficult.

This is what it looked like minus the CalTrans workers 
This course was basically flat with the exception of having to run over several pedestrian bridges. When we finally crossed over 113 and started to head back there was an aid station that was handing orange slices. I had no idea if it was a good idea or not since I always have orange slices post race but it sure was a nice alternative to the water and gu. Here is my advice to all the kids, you know how we always say "when are you ever going to use that?" Here is when math skills come in handy, when you are counting down how many miles are left in your half marathon. It's possible at mile 7 I told myself I had 5 miles left and felt accomplished, only to realize that I really had 6 miles left. Oops. One of the only really awesome parts about this section of the run was that there were two big rigs that went by and they blew their horns at us. I'm telling you it's the little things that get you through this type of adventure. The other noteworthy moment was when two runners who work for AMR (they were wearing AMR shirts) stopped and assisted a runner who it appears may have tripped and fallen and cut open her chin. It reminded me that as runners we are a community and to see these two stop in the middle of their race to assist another runner just reminded of what a great community it is.

Totally saw this sign and thought "there's a CHP office there"

I was stoked to see mile 8. When you talk about mini goals getting you through the miles, the mile 8 marker was a big one for me. There was a timing mat here and I knew Scott would be checking the online tracking to see when I hit that point. Unfortunately, the real time tracking didn't update that point until after I crossed the finish line. Oh well.

At mile 9 my pace got peppy once again. I was dreading the 10 mile mark, because that is where classically your shit just falls apart. I was feeling good and thought, maybe today would be my day, maybe miles 10-12 will not suck after all. Then it happened, it started as a really stiff ankle and it slowly worked it's way up my right leg to my knee. Holy hell, that hurts. I tried altering my gait a little to work through it and that seemed to help, but I was sure that I would pay the price somewhere else for that. I made all sorts of promises to my body; "Hold your shit together until the finish line and I promise we won't run next week". "Let me finish at goal and I swear no more long runs." I was schedule to take in a gel at 10.5 miles but I took it at 10 miles hoping that might help. Eventually the pain eased up and I was able to get back to pace. Looking back, right before this happened there was a small section of concrete bike path that we ran on, I'm thinking that may have been the culprit. Concrete is not a welcome site around mile nine.

The last 5k of the race was a ridiculous round about. Every time we started getting closer to the finish line we would wind around and head back out. Even though I knew how many miles I had left it just always seemed so cruel to be so close and then head away from that direction again. At one point a course monitor gave me a high five and told me to keep om going! Seriously, whoever you are, you're awesome, it meant a lot emotionally. As we came back though the park around mile 12 I spotted the official photographer and seriously almost started tearing up, I knew I was close. Scott caught this photo of me from a distance as I spotted the photographer.

If I thought I was happy to see the photographer I was ecstatic to see Scott and Tacoma!

I had no idea just how much winding around I would be doing, but obviously Scott knew because I saw them again.

How much farther????
As I ran by him I heard him say "Just around the corner!" I seriously was practically dizzy from what felt like the circles we had been running in and had no idea where I was or where the finish line was. I took his word for it and picked up the pace and finally saw the street and not to far off the 13 mile marker. .10 miles to go!

Seeing the finish line and hearing my name called over the loudspeaker was so gratifying!

The nicest part was getting a huge hug from Scott as I crossed the finish line. It felt so good to be done and to know that not only did I meet my goal, but I came in under goal at 2:18:26.

Happy family

I'd love to tell you all that it gets easier but it doesn't. This was my third half marathon and each one has brought its own challenges. There is a constant drive in me to do better each time, which is the driving factor behind doing one every other year. I'd probably seriously hurt myself if I did them more often. Even though mid race I told myself I never wanted to do another one, I'm sure I will indeed have one on my 2016 race calendar. It's like childbirth, after a certain amount of time you forget just how painful it was.

Thanks to Emergen-C for selecting me to be part of their Ambassador Team this year. I have been drinking it every day to do my best to stay healthy for race day and avoid the germs that the kindergartner brings home everyday.

Also, this is a freaking great and fun race! A Change of Pace puts on this event and I can't say enough about how well organized and easy it was. Packet pick-up was a breeze, people actually lined up according to pace for all three races, the shirt is cute and the medals are insanely huge and come with a detachable charm to wear as a necklace. The volunteers and course monitors were over the top friendly and supportive. I mean seriously, it doesn't get any better than this!

Finish Time: 2:18:26
36/77 AG
416/726 OA

12:34 PR


  1. Congratulations on your huge PR! Great job!

  2. KICK ASS!!!! I have saved this to read and am glad I finally got to it LOL You totally rocked it!!!!!!