Sunday, December 29, 2013

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon Race Report - 2013

The inaugural San Diego Holiday Half Marathon took place on Sunday, December 29, 2013.  I originally decided to skip it in order to prepare for the Carlsbad Marathon.  But on Thursday, I started to get an inch to run it, especially since my fellow SEHRC club mate, Chris Bryan, was entered.  I checked the website and the race was sold out, but USA Endurance Sports were going to release 100 bibs, first come, first served on Saturday at 7:00 p.m at RoadRunner Sports.

The previous week I had run 11.8 miles on Saturday, 12.1 miles on Sunday, 11.5 on Tuesday, 4.7 on Wednesday and 9.5 miles (at 6:53 pace) on Thursday, with over 5400 of elevation gain on trails and road - not exactly the best taper.  I told myself I'd do the race as a training run and not run on Friday or Saturday. 

On Saturday, I became a little anxious, wondering if I would be able to get a bib.  I made a pasta dinner with peas and to keep things casual, I had a bit of wine and beer.  After dinner, I drove down to RoadRunner, arriving at 6:40 p.m, where there was already a line for the 100 bibs and it was moving!  My anxiety rose, as wondered if I'd get a bib.  Twenty minutes later I had one and knew that this would be no training run.

I called Chris and we decided he would pick me up at 5:45 a.m. for the race that started at 7:30 a.m.  Our big decision was whether to drive to the start and take the shuttle bus back or drive to the finish and take the shuttle to the start.  To keep my pre-race anxiety in check, we thought it best to drive to the start and prepare for the race under our own timetable.    

I then got home and went through my pre-race ritual of pinning the bib on my racing singlet, laying out my shoes, socks, shorts, warm-up gear and Vaseline.  I also attached the timing chip to my shoes.  I then charged my watch and tweaked my running songs on my iPod Nano.  I ate about half a pound of X-mas chocolate and then went to bed.

I woke up at five, got dressed, rubbed on the Vaseline, made coffee and ate two fried eggs and a bagel. Chris showed up at 5:45 and off we went in his Mini.  We pulled into the Albertsons' parking lot around 6:10, parked near the port-o-potties and sat in the car for awhile.  
Chris and John - all smiles at dawn
Chris and I then ran a 1.7 mile warm-up around the parking lot, hit the potties and then dropped our sweats off at bag check.  We then did four 60m strides and with that we were ready.  We walked over to the start and had no problem getting in at the front of the race.  I got a little annoyed when a fifty year old man wearing a lifting belt used by movers, two knee braces and carrying an extra 20 pounds decided to stand in front of me in the sub 1:25 corral.  Really?  I moved.    

People we don't know at the start
The National Anthem was then sung and away we went.  As usual, I went out a bit too fast, but I have a hard time holding back the adrenaline rush.  We went up two hills and then connected to the 56 bike path. Once on the path, it was pretty much a straight drop to the finish near Torrey Pines State Beach.  Around mile six there was a half a mile of hill and around miles 10-12, there was some rolling hills, but that was it.  

Around the second mile, a guy named Brad Calder ran up alongside me.  He kindly informed me I had a piece of toilet paper sticking out of the side of my shorts.  With that breaking the ice, we ran side by side for the next 7 miles or so, each pushing the other.  I kept looking at my watch and couldn't believe my mile paces, 5:44, 6:05, 5:49, 6:01, 6:04, 6:01.  I was flying.

During this segment, I grabbed an energy drink, which had the consistency of cough syrup.  I had to drink a bit, as I needed something, but water would have better.  

At mile nine, I told Brad I had to dial it back and for him to go for it.  Brad who is 45 and had traveled from Washington State, went on to take first in his age group.  I then ran alone for a mile before Rashaad Forehand, a guy I had passed around mile 7, caught back up.  I was then faced with one of those make or break moments, stay in my comfort zone (my pace had dropped to 6:43) or see what I could do.  I hung on to the back of Rashaad and we ran the next two miles in 6:18 and 6:05.  

A little over mile 12, Rashaad was starting to fade.  Rashaad had gotten me through two miles, it was my turn to return the favor.  I started telling him he could do it.  His breathing was labored, his form was failing, but Rahaad pushed on.  "800 meters!"  "600 meters!"  Every time I said something to Rashaad, I forgot about my own pain and actually felt better.  We ran mile 13 in 6:09 and crossed the finish line together in 1:20:45.6, a 6:07 pace for the race.  

My Superman crystal
I couldn't believe it.  My La Jolla Half Marathon (4/28/13) was 1:34:52, a 7:15 pace.  In eight months, I had dropped 14 minutes or over a minute a mile.  Running in San Elijo Hills baby!  It makes you strong.  My time was good enough for me to win my age division (40-44) and I got a sweet trophy.

Chris Bryan pulled off a personal best, running a 1:26:16.5, a 6:34 pace.  To celebrate, Chris and I had a pint or two at Stone Brewing Company and a plate of hummus.
To the victors, goes the beer @ Stone Brewing Co in Escondido
Definitely a great race and a great time.  Thanks San Diego Holiday Half Marathon, hope to see you next year.

Post-race:  The day after.  I went to work today, which involves sitting, reading and typing, and my legs got progressiviley sorer as the day wore on.  Funny how my legs don't hurt immediately after a race and it takes some time for the soreness to arrive.  It's a good lesson to remember to keep me from running on sore legs the next day and damaging my muscles.

The race also gave me one another insight.  Around mile 9, my abs got tight and were having difficulty with the pace.  All my training is running.  I don't do anything else and I barely stretch.  If I'm going to get faster, I'm going to have to work on my core and do more speed work to get my abs used to it.  

San Elijo Hills Running Club


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