Like I said in my last post, I am definitely not feeling well. I felt sort of bad on Friday, but I figured it was allergies (I couldn’t possibly get sick twice in two months, right??). Friday night I was still feeling bad and Jeremy and I were at my grandma’s house in Pacific Beach, San Diego. The main reason I decided to run this race is because I am registered for the San Diego Half Marathon on March 9, but we were originally going to be gone traveling by that time. I found out about the Mermaid Series Half Marathon online, and it seemed like a good race to run that my grandma could be at. My grandma is one of my favorite people in the entire universe, and we have been close my whole life. She was able to watch me finish the SD Half last year and loved it so much, I wanted to make sure there was another race she could be at. We’re now planning on leaving for our trip the day after the SD Half, so I’ll just be running that one too (my mom is coming to that one also, so that’s exciting!).
Anyway, I ended up being up all night Friday night, and I probably got 1-2 hours of sleep. I knew I definitely had some kind of bug. A year ago, I’m pretty sure I would have just stayed home. But I decided to suck it up and brave the race, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. We left my grandma’s house at 6:30am (a little later than we had planned, but it was only about a 7-minute drive to the starting line), and that was a huge mistake. There was a gigantic line of cars on the freeway waiting to get off the exit, and by 6:55, we were just getting off the freeway (the race started at 7), and still had a couple miles to go until the parking area.
At this point, I was stressing out. I was thinking maybe they would delay the start of the race because there were still hundreds of people in their cars. But then I realized that the 5K and 10K started later than the half, and all these people were probably parking for those races. I saw a girl with a bib get out of the car and start running, so I did the same. WELL, this was the worst part of the day. It turned out to be a mile from the starting point, and I booked it the whole way (I could hear the start of the race when I was running), and when I finally got to the starting line, I just ran over it and kept running and that’s how I started the race. So, really, I ran 14.1 miles or thereabouts (which is actually a PD for me, so yay), which meant that I was pretty worn out by mile 12 in the race.
To my great surprise, I actually felt okay while I was running (thank you, body). The course was nice and flat, and the scenery was pretty. I do 98% of my training runs along the ocean, so running by the water feels right to me. This course took place in Mission Bay, and it was a beautiful morning. I wore my Nike pullover so I could protect my neck from the cold air, and I was definitely too hot by mile 10, but it wasn’t too bad. It was also supposed to be cloudy and 55 degrees, and it turned out to be super sunny and about 60 degrees. There was not much in the way of crowd support, but it was a pretty low-key race and that was fine. I do have to say that there were lots of aid stations and they pretty much all had Gatorade, which I really appreciated. There were a lot of runners with tutus (this was a women-only race), and I saw one girl with long red hair with mermaid-looking running tights on, and she looked like Ariel from The Little Mermaid, and that was pretty cool. My legs felt good until about mile 10 when I thought I started slowing a bit. They felt heavy but I pushed on, and at mile 11 I was pretty worn out. I kept getting little bursts (I played Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” over and over again the last few miles and tried to keep my pace up with the beat), and I slowed down a bit, but I continued on and pushed to the end.
This was one of the biggest pros for me, I felt like I did a really good job with fueling for this race (which is probably why my stomach felt better the rest of the day afterward instead of being upset with me like it normally is after a half). I used to eat Clif Shot Bloks during long runs, and my stomach didn’t like them much. I switched to GU gels, and this seems to work better. The only kind I’ve had is the salted caramel, but it works pretty well. It’s crazy sweet so I can’t have a full one at one time because I get grossed out, so I had half at around mile 7 and some more at around mile 10 I think. I didn’t manage to eat the entire thing, but I did get Gatorade at almost all of the aid stations, and I carried water with me for the first time, which was so helpful since I could then eat the gel whenever I wanted.
As soon as I could see the finish line, I started pushing myself, even though my body knew at mile 12 that I had already run 13 miles and it wanted to stop. But the last little bit of the course was in the grass and as soon as I stepped on the grass a girl started passing me. I am SUPER competitive, and knew I didn’t want her to beat me to the finish line. I’m always glad this happens, because I end up finishing really strongly. We both raced to the finish, and ended up crossing the finish at the same time. I turned around to give her a high-five, but she was nowhere to be found, oh well. My finish time was 2:04:03, a 19 second PR! Looking at my splits, mile 10 and 11 were my fastest, which is something to proud of, and mile 12 I slowed down a ton (I’m going to blame it on my body knowing I had already run 13 miles).
Jeremy found me quickly after I finished, and I immediately asked where my grandma was, and he said he had to take her home and she wasn’t able to watch me finish. It turns out that the parking area was located 2-3 miles from the finish line. It was too far for my grandma to walk, so Jeremy drove around and tried to find a way to somehow drop her off at the finish area. He talked to a couple of the people directing traffic (volunteers?) and no one would let him drive through. He understood that they had to be careful with cars going through where the race was, but there were two lanes, and runners were only taking up one lane. They were letting cars go through to the hotel next to the finish line, and he asked if they could make an exception, just so he could drop my grandma off at the hotel (explaining that she couldn’t walk far), but they said no, it was for hotel guests only. So Jeremy had to take her home and she wasn’t able to see me cross the finish line. This was a huge bummer. I wish they had been a little more sympathetic.
BUT, one of the highlights of the day was meeting Kristin from STUFT Mama. I have been following her blog for a while, and she is the reason I found out about and decided to choose the Runner’s World Challenge training plan for my first marathon. I ended up asking her a question about it, and she emailed me some advice and encouragement, and I emailed her again last week when I had some confusion about the plan. Kristin has seriously been so nice and helpful and enthusiastic, and I really appreciate it! I saw her after the race, and I went up and introduced myself. She was so friendly, and she ended up taking a picture and posting it on her blog! Check it out here! She also took pictures of the race and finish and stuff, which I forgot to do. She finished third overall, and first in her age group. Her time was 1:33:37, and she was taking it easy. It is really inspiring to meet such an accomplished runner, and it makes me excited to work hard and continue to improve!
I picked up my bib on Friday at the park where the finish line was. There was no expo, which I didn’t mind, and there was no line whatsoever. It was super easy and fast. The shirt that came with the event is by far the nicest shirt I’ve ever gotten at a race. The material is amazing, and the fit is perfect. It’s nice and long (which is my jam), and it is so comfortable. I didn’t wear it the day of the race for fear of looking like a newb, but there were actually tons of ladies wearing it, so I wouldn’t have felt abnormal. I’ll definitely be wearing it a lot.
There was no finisher’s medal for this race, there was a necklace instead. It’s pretty cute!
They texted my results after the race, which was a nice idea, but this is what it said:
All in all, it was a nice, smaller race with a pretty, flat course. If I ran it again (which I probably won’t since my grandma wouldn’t be able to watch me finish and it’s a three and a half hour drive from Santa Barbara), I would just make sure I left earlier to avoid the massive clusterf*ck at the beginning, and so I could walk the mile to the starting line instead of run my ass off. Hopefully I will feel 100% for the SD Half in four weeks, and get closer to a sub-two-hour finish!