I signed up for this race when I realized I wouldn't make my goal 10K last weekend and I couldn't find a replacement 10K in the next couple of weeks. My options were, live with the Chrissy field 5K as the only race for this training cycle, or suck it up and pay for and run a half marathon. I knew I needed to increase my mileage for fitness reasons and, let's be honest, I probably wouldn't do it without a goal race. But, I'm not going to lie, the thing that tipped the scale is that the race was in Alameda and one of my dearest friends and college roommates lives there. I figured if I ran a race while she was teaching exercise classes at the gym ('cause that's what Ms. badass does on her weekend mornings) I could make a good case for a big indulgent post-workout afternoon lunch of food and wine. And, it worked. So, that's the real victory here.
|View of the City in the Distance on the end of the Bay Farm Island loop|
I'd been doing fairly well on the 10K training when I made the switch, so I just kept at the strength and speed work while adding in some long runs where they fit. In the last 4 weeks, I fit in an 8 miler and two 10-milers plus a hard 5K followed by a blister-laden 5.6 miles (failed 8 miler) the next day last weekend. Not awesome, but enough to know I could get through a half without keeling over.
The night before the race I checked the weather, and was pleased to see that despite Thursday's local highs of 100F, Sunday's Alameda prediction was a start temp of 58F partly cloudy, and an end temp of 64F and sunny.
After looking at my training and being very honest with myself, I set the following goals:
A+/Stretch/Everything is Magic Goal -- 2:18 - 10:35/mile
B Goal -- 2:22 - 10:50/mile, fastest 1/2 marathon in 19 months (2:19 half on my way to DNF the Chicago Marathon 2014).
C Goal -- sub 2:24 -- less than 11:00/mile, fastest 1/2 since ORF 2015 (2:22:09)
D Goal -- Finish sub 2:29 -- 11:23/mile, fastest since SLO 2015 (which is a much more demanding course, elevation-wise, so not a great comparison, but I had to work with what I had)
E Goal -- Finish healthy
The course promised 7 aid stations with no gu. I gave myself permission to walk through and drink plus dump water on my head at each one. I also packed 4 gus, stuffing the back pocket of my shorts into a ridiculous lump, planning to take one of them at (or before) aid stations 2, 4, 5, and 6/7.
The AM worked out perfectly, I woke on my own at 5:59, turning off my alarm and saving E from the 6:00 AM buzz. I dressed, and was out the door by 6:20, got my Skinny Vanilla Latte with an extra shot at Starbucks and drove to Crown Memorial State Beach
. When I finished the latte I started in on the large Gatorade. Parking was $5, and there was plenty still available at 7:15. Bonus, there were physical bathrooms near the parking that had no line, so I took advantage of that opportunity before walking the 1/2 mile to the start line.
The starting area was chaos. But good, friendly, pink, fun, lady-positive chaos.
|Like 80s style aerobic warm-up chaos.|
I'd read some negative reviews about staging, but they had wave starts this year and it was super simple to slip away after the first group started, finish my large Gatorade and throw out the bottle, hit the port-a-potties with no lines, and return back in time to join the coral with the 2:15 pacer before they headed out.
The race weather was dreamy. A little humid for the bay area, but it stayed blissfully overcast until after I finished. I headed out and just repeated "nice, easy, sustainable pace" to myself for several miles. It worked. Early splits as follows:
3: 11:07 (includes walking through the water stop and taking a gu)
At this point, I realized, I was almost dead on my target A+ goal pace. I checked watch screen #3, and the average pace for the total was 10:37. WOW! Also, yeah. This was not going to continue. I could tell already that I didn't have it in me to continue at this pace through the end. And that was just fine.
I walked through the aid station at 6.11 miles on my Garmin and took a Gu, sucking down water, hitting the 10K at 1:06:45 -- or 10:45/mile. I knew I wasn't making up those 10 seconds per mile.
In fact, I knew it was going to be a struggle to keep it below 11 minutes per mile by the end, but I decided that was the fight I was going to pick.
7: 11:18 (gu and water station)
8: 11:19 (turn on music at 7.01, water station mid-mile)
10: 10:57 (no excuse, just starting to lag)
11: 11:57 (gu and water station, definitely the hardest mile of the race)
12: 11:38 (one foot in front of the other to the music)
13: 10:43 (includes a water walking break, just goes to show how much of this is mental)
13.18: 9:42/mile (what did I say about mental?)
Final outcome by Garmin: 13.18 miles @ 2:24:01. 10:56/mile average pace.
It's humbling to take this as a win. But it is one. I'm 2 seconds off my C goal, and I ran to the best of my abilities today (plus the weather was on my side). Overall, I'm very happy I signed up for the half, it definitely forced me to do more training and push myself on race day than I would have otherwise done.
Next up? Chrissy Field 5K in July. I'm hoping to drop some more time off my Chrissy Field PR. Wish me luck.