I love this race. Not only was it my first half marathon two years so it will always hold a special place in my heart, but it’s always one of the most organized races I run. Everything down to the informative website, pre-race preparation email, expo, post-race activities… everything is planned well and the volunteers are SO nice and helpful. This year I especially loved it because I FINALLY broke two hours!!! I’ve been wanting (but not exactly training) to do this for a while now (maybe like a year and a half) and I finally did it. In past races I’ve just loosely followed a training plan and would just hope that I miraculously improved and broke two hours without putting in the effort needed. This time around, I’ve been busting my ass training for my marathon and working hard during training runs and November Project, and am really seeing improvement. Anyway, Jeremy and I headed to San Diego on Saturday morning to meet up with my mom and grandma and head to the expo. It’s always held at the pier, which means parking can be annoying, but once you’re there it’s easy to shop at the expo booths or just go right and pick up your bib and shirts. Since it’s my third year running the race, they gave me an additional shirt, and they printed Legacy with three stars on one of the sleeves of both shirts. The women’s shirts this year were lavender color, so I asked if I could get the dark grey men’s shirt instead, since I don’t wear that many light colors. They were super hospitable and it was no trouble. They also gave out a backpack to put all your goodies in.
The day before a race, I like to have a big bread-heavy lunch and a light dinner, usually a brothy soup. I’ve done this before my last three half marathons, and it seems to work well for me. We all stayed at a hotel downtown so we’d be close to the start and finish lines instead of having to wake up an hour earlier and try to find parking downtown SD somewhere.
The race is always the morning of the daylight savings time change, so waking up at 5am really means it’s 4am for your body. It hurts, but luckily race-day nerves take care of the tiredness. Before a half marathon, I find that having a small cup of coffee (very important), a little oatmeal, half a banana, and half a Honey Stinger chocolate waffle at least an hour before the race starts sits well in my stomach, and provides enough energy for a few hours. After Jeremy and I left the hotel, we made the mile-long walk to the starting line, where there were tons of porta potties and an announcer getting ready to start the waves of runners.
I was in wave 7, which was a good placement for me. I didn’t see the 2-hour pacers since they were in an earlier wave, but it seemed like everyone around me was starting off at around the same pace. Once the race started, I was aiming for around 9-minute miles for the first half, but a fellow November Project runner saw my shirt and starting running with me during mile one. I never run with people and wasn’t sure how I was supposed to run at my own pace if she didn’t want to, so I ended up talking to her and slowing down to her pace. I kept looking at my watch and trying to ramp up the speed a bit (we were running around 9:30) but I didn’t want to be rude so I didn’t push it. I know that was silly because I wanted that sub-2 hour finish so badly and I should have just told her, but maybe it was a good thing for me to be so conservative in the beginning because I felt like I had a lot left in the tank the second half of the race, and I ended up breaking two hours anyway. It definitely made the first five miles go by fast, and it was a nice change to actually run with someone. I split off from her around mile 5 when she stopped to get water, and I sped up to try to make up some time.
I kept up a good pace until the dreaded Washington Street hill at mile 10 came up. Last year I had to walk up a lot of it due to not being in very good shape, but this year it didn’t feel bad at all and I never felt like I had to walk at all. After the hill was done, it was about three miles downhill to the finish. I was able to really push it these last miles, and I’m super proud of my negative splits. While I was pushing those last couple miles, I ended up passing the 2-hour pacer and that moment was one of the best of my running career. I couldn’t stop smiling and I might have uttered a ‘f— yeah’ out loud… Official time: 1:56:47!
As far as fueling goes, I had a Clif shot that I opened somewhere around mile 9, and I ended up taking in a little bit of it every mile, and only ended up eating about half of it. I didn’t feel like I needed any more than that.
I’m glad this race went so perfectly, and I’m excited to see what I can do at my next half. In other news, marathon training is still going well and we are now 8 weeks out from the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon… how did that happen? I haven’t done a training update in a while, so that will be on the agenda for next week!