The Race I Didn’t Plan For

I know it’s Friday and I’ve been bad about posting my Fit Friday posts, but I wanted to get this recap out instead.

Last Sunday, I ran the Big Sur Half Marathon. This has been one of my favorite half marathon since I first ran in it in 2011. Last year, I also ran my current PR there. So this year, I planned on this being my last real race of 2013 and hoped to finally break 1:40 in the half. For the most part, my training had gone really well and my speed was picking up. A week before the race, I was confident that this would be the perfect setting. But it wasn’t, no PR, not this time.

Unfortunately, timing was not on my side. As I shared in my last post, we just purchased our first home and began our move on the Friday before the race. I knew this was not ideal but it was what it was. I ended up being on my feet packing pretty much every day of the week leading up to the race. I tried to mitigate this by using some Recovery Pump time but I just had too much on my legs. During my Friday run, my right foot also acted up and we had to stop for me to stretch it out. Despite all this, I really thought I could still PR – if only by a few seconds.

Who can complain with this scenery? (Photo by Miriam K.)

Who can complain with this scenery? (Photo by Miriam K.)

Sunday morning I headed down to the race with Leslie (who was pacing me – what a treat!) and Sam (who rocked her race with a new PR and took 1st in her AG). We had a nice little shake out run and while my legs still felt tired, I felt ok and wasn’t too worried. Pretty quickly into the race, I knew it was going to be a hard push to get this PR but I still thought I could do it. Leslie kept me on pace, following my goal to stay within 7:35-7:40 for the first 10k, then the plan was to drop to about 7:30 through mile 10 and then give everything I had in the last 3 miles. Even though I didn’t feel as great as I wanted to, every time Leslie asked how I was going, I said good – if I said it out loud it made it true, right? I hit mile 7.7 at 59:02, right on target.

When we hit mile 9, Leslie knew I was having a rough time. She asked if this was just the pain of the race or if it just wasn’t my day. I had to be honest, there was no way I could keep up my pace for another 4 miles, let alone push faster. So I told her it wasn’t my day. We held a pretty decent pace for the next two miles (7:48, 7:54). But then I just fell apart – running never felt so hard! (Ok, it felt harder at the LA Marathon but whatever.) We hit mile 11 at 1:25:51. I thought maybe if I held back in miles 11 and 12, I could push in the last mile and maybe make up a little time – still not a PR but at least close to my best. Leslie was a great pacer, she reminded me that even on my slow runs I was faster than what I was running in those two miles and I really appreciated that. She encouraged me to try to pass people in that last mile. And I wanted to… but no good. I had to stop (twice!) because my body just wasn’t having it. I have to admit, it was a little awful to fall apart like that with a friend to witness it – but I so appreciated Leslie being there. A big THANK YOU to her for being there and being a great pacer even when I couldn’t make it happen. When we came up to the finish (where Kevin and my dad were spectating – thanks guys!) I gave everything I had to push to the finish, even a little sprint in that last bit before the finish line. My official finish time: 1:44:15 (1:42 ish without my stops).

Leslie taking me into the finish chute (photo by Kevin)

Leslie taking me into the finish chute (photo by Kevin)

After crossing the line, I picked up my food box and ate EVERYTHING. I was starving. I never eat that quickly after a race. But I could not find where I had packed my Sports Beans and had only eaten a banana before the race – not great. I normally don’t need fuel in a half marathon, however, the few times I have forgotten to take it with me have been the times I needed it – of course, right? We had to run some errands after the race for the new house and my legs were so tired that I sat down in the store – yep. And I didn’t run again until today – although lots of time on my feet still with unpacking. Even with those days off, my legs still felt tired and so while I’m bummed that Sunday didn’t go the way I hoped and planned for, I gave all I had in the race. And still, it was my fastest half in a year.

Nice swag

Nice swag

This Sunday I also get to pay it forward and pace a friend to a new PR at the inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon. I’m pretty excited to run with her and still in a good long run. Will I be seeing you at the race? (Look for me, I’ll have on my SFM Ambassador singlet from last year.)

 

 

My Shiney New PR from the Big Sur Half

The Big Sur Half Marathon has topped my list of half marys since I ran it last year (read my recap of that race here). There are several reasons why this race is favored by many runners (not just myself). The course is stunningly beautiful, it has nice rolling hills rather than difficult steep hills or boring flat routes. And Big Sur is a great race organizer (there are only a few race organizations that I put in this category, the SF Marathon is another good example).

Last year when I ran the race I was smack in the middle of my running rut. I could not seem to run at my previous speed anymore. My official time at Big Sur was 2:04 and some change (granted I did have a bathroom break and the course according the GPS watches (acknowledging their flaws) seems a tad long). But I was still happy at that race as I knew without the bathroom break I would have had a slightly faster run and it was quicker than my previous half marathons.

This year was a whole difficult ballgame. I joined a running team (SC Endurance), was more consistent with my running, did more speed workouts & long runs, and Big Sur fell at the tail end of my marathon training plan. And well, let’s be honest, 2012 has been my personal year of the PR. Just to recap, in April I finally fell well below the 2 hour mark finish the US Half 2 (now Rock n Roll San Francisco) at 1:54 and then finally beat my 2-year-old PR at the Capitola Half with a finishing time of 1:45:44 (running a 1:45 half marathon was a huge goal of mine). After that I secured a new PR in the 5k and in the 6 mile distance as well as creating some new personal course records. In July, I created a new half PR at the SF Marathon (1:43:03).

After all this, I knew I could do well at Big Sur. It was my ideal course with its rolling hills. I also knew that I wanted to do well at this race to have it in my mind when I run my marathon in just under 2 weeks (wow, how did that happen??). So I decided I had two plans for this past Sunday. 1) Aim for a 7:38 pace which should get me to 1:40 finish time and a PR or 2) Run a marathon pace for this course. I decided I would go by feel to determine which goal I would pursue.

Pre race with the FIL

Corral A

It was a long weekend. I went to the expo on Friday to pick up my gear but I was back there Saturday to volunteer for the SF Marathon booth. I got to see several other SF ambassadors, including meeting Paulette for the first time! I was tired and cranky after the long Saturday and this was not made better while waiting for dinner. But after some delicious pasta I felt better. I drove down with my father-in-law, who is also a runner and raced Big Sur as well, and saw that the rain had subsided. Woohoo! When the race started, I felt strong and decided to go for goal 1. Every mile I ran was under 8 minutes, with the fastest at 7:22 and the slowest at 7:53. My last two miles were very consistent despite fatigue, clocking in at 7:45 each. I immediately knew after the first mile that course was a bit long but it was not abnormal (I also know that the course could be perfect but GPS tracks it a bit long). According to my watch, the course was 13:31 and I ran an average 7:36 pace. At the 13.1 mark by my watch I was at 1:39:40, but I ended up finishing at 1:41:19. A PR by nearly 2 minutes!! Woohoo! And 23 minutes better than last year. 23 minutes!!!

PR!

This race went exactly how I wanted it to. I felt strong the first 9-10 miles and fatigue in my legs set in around mile 10-11. My shoes felt a little off, even though I’ve worn them in a half marathon and some long runs before. This could have been due to wearing new socks. Anyway, for the first 8 miles or so I just smiled like crazy. I knew I was feeling good and no one can overstate the beauty of the Pacific Grove & Carmel coast. After the turn around I saw Alisyn and my father-in-law.  Miles 11 and 12 were tough and I knew that even if I slowed to a 8 minute pace, I would still meet my goal of a PR. But I pushed through. I saw Kevin and his mom right before the finish, gave them a big thumbs up, and sprinted to the end. What a great race!

Almost to the finish!

Love the Big Sur medals

Happy Meg

And now… CIM!

Big Sur Half Marathon – My New Favorite Race!

Last weekend I ran my last half marathon of the year and my 11th half marathon overall. It was my favorite race, ever! Why? Because it’s a beautiful course and you just can’t top a Big Sur running event, they put on the best races around (see my recap on their marathon earlier this year).

Cold pre race :)

I had headed out to the expo on Friday (I love when I can go early) and had Saturday to relax before the race day. I ended up running 3.1 miles with Kevin to prep for our 5k on Thanksgiving but it was actually nice. Since the distance was short it didn’t bother my legs and instead seemed to prep them for the race day. I had been reading for the days leading up to the race that it would be a cold, rainy morning. So, I laid out warm clothes and the running cap I bought at the expo. I had my usual pesto pasta pre-race dinner and got to sleep.

4:30am rolled around way too quickly, as it usually does. I got up and decided to wear a running skirt and bring pants just in case (so glad I went with that decision instead of wearing pants). It was not raining, although it sprinkled a bit on the way to Monterey. I went back and forth about wearing the hat, which I had got to keep the rain out of my face. I decided to wear it anyway, just in case it started to rain. But nope, no rain! At least not during the race. It turned out to be a beautiful morning, cold but good for running. The race takes you through the city of Monterey, Cannery Row, Pacific Grove, and along the Monterey Bay. It is a spectacular view!! I loved every minute of it.

I planned for this to be the race that I broke back through 2 hours. The last few races I have run have been slow because of a variety of reasons (dehydration, sickness, not enough training due to my crazy schedule). But I thought I could keep around a 9 minute pace and get back under 2 hours. And I did! Well, ok officially I didn’t but at 13.1 miles by my fancy Nike+ watch (thanks Kevin!) I was at 1:59. I had a little potty break at the turnaround and stopped my watch to account for that. According to my watch I crossed the finish line at 2:01 (at 13.4 miles) and my official time was 2:04. Still a significant improvement from my last race. And I kept to my pace pretty faithfully (except mile 2 and mile 12). Here are my splits:

1 mile – 8:42
2 mile – 7:29
3 mile – 8:52
4 mile – 9:10
5 mile – 9:26
6 mile – 9:03
7 mile – 9:02
8 mile – 9:32
9 mile – 9:30
10 mile – 9:23
11 mile – 9:23
12 mile – 9:34
13 mile – 9:19

I love this race. It will be my first priority of races to do in fall 2012. And I can’t wait to do it again! Thanks Big Sur for another great experience!!