As if setting a 2nd fastest time for one race distance weren’t enough, I repeated this feat the next day with a new 2nd fastest time for a half marathon!
Unlike the day before, my hotel did have a shuttle running to the start line (or close enough to it) for the marathon/half marathon. I was up at 4am for this race because I wanted to make sure I got on a shuttle. As luck would have it, I may have been on the last shuttle from the hotel. As we drove along, the driver wondered if he would be able to make another run after ours,. I hope so. As I was waiting in the hotel lobby, I noticed some runners were taking advantage of the hotel having most of its usual breakfast ready for us. They were still eating as we took off.
As I walked up to the start area, I cold feel the nerves settling in. I had said that I wanted a PR with this race and I really wanted one. However, I had no idea how mush pushing for a PR on the 5K the day before would hurt me.
After checking out the scene, I settled with sitting for a little bit by this car. Pretty cool car! Don’t you think? As I waited, I would check social media to see if any of the We Run Social runners would mention where they would be gathering before the race. As we got close to an hour before the marathon took off, I was starting to wonder if they were going to post anything beforehand. So, I got up and walked around a little. As luck would have it, I ran into one of my running friends Erica. She was hanging out with some of the Pasadena Pacers. So, we walked back and I got to meet some of them. As we were chatting, Dani, who writes the Weight Off My Shoulders Blog and is part of the We Run Social crew, came by and made sure Erica and I knew where the We Run Social crew was hanging out. So, we followed.
This is one fun group of peeps! We chatted, laughed, and took pictures, of course.
This is the group of us who were running either the half or full marathon.
I wanted to make sure to grab a picture with some of my favorite running bloggers…Linzie and Brian (aka Pavey)…
Carlee, myself, Erica, Dani, Brian, and Linzie. Yes, it was fun hanging out with these guys before the race! They did a lot to help calm my nerves and remind me why I love running to begin with…having fun.
Before I knew it, we wished each other well and headed off to the corrals. I was in corral 21 for the half marathon. So, there was still quite a bit of time before my race would begin.
Here’s the view from my corral before the first coral started.
It’s great when you begin to move forward. I think one of the worst parts to being a back of the packer is the long wait until you get to run. As I see runners doing their pre-race stretches, I often wonder how much stretching more than an hour before yo have to run really helps. The long wait does nothing to help with nerves because it just gives you more time to psych yourself out. You have more time to worry over all the things that could go wrong. More time for your body to do everything it can to convince you to not even start. One thing I learned in this race was that, if you don’t have a running buddy for the race (whom you can talk with while waiting), it’s an absolute must to have music to listen to. Once I put the music on, my nerves turned into anticipation of something great. For my next race, I need to add some music to the playlist for this wait time.
Almost go time! By the time I got here, I was focused on my strategy and ready to see what the roads had for me.
And, we’re off! I took this photo at my first walk break. I thought about taking pics at most of my walk breaks. As the race went along, I totally forgot about doing that. We started off running with Balboa Park to our right.
The first of many hills came to too far into the run. As you can see, the inline is slight, but there. I was feeling pretty good in the early parts of the course. Run 30 seconds, walk 60 seconds.
By my third (or maybe 4th) walk break, we were making our first turn. As I wold see, this race isn’t all too picturesque. So, by the time we got around the corner, I decided that I didn’t have to take pictures at every walk break. Instead, I’d take pics of things I thought were interesting (if I could).
As I continued on in the first mile, I started feeling the need to pee. It kind of sucks to feel this so early on. I knew I’d probably have to stop somewhere. The first port-a-potties had a seemingly short line. So, I hesitated and went back to use them. However, by the time I got back the lines had jumped. So, I turned around and continued on. The first mile was a little slow for me. I finished in a little over 11 minutes. That was okay. It wasn’t great and not bad either.
You may have noticed the 2:45 pacer in my corral ahead of me. My goal was to get in front of that person and continue on. This worked out great in the first mile and on into the second. I was on track to getting the second mile done in around 11 minutes as well. However, I passed a port-a-potty that only had 1-3 people in the lines. I knew I’d never see such short lines again. So, I decided to stop. While in line, I checked the watch to see how long it would take. I lost 3-5 minutes at the stop and knew, that my dreams of a 2:40 half were pretty much gone.
As I got back on the road, I saw that 2:45 pacer. My goal became to keep that pacer in my sights at all times. Hopefully, in the last half, I’d be able to get past them for good and still think about setting a PR. This proved to be a pretty good strategy. On my first run interval, I didn’t quite catch them. I told my self not to panic. Meb talks about how marathon racing is all about patience. So, I told myself to be patient.
Eventually, a pattern took place where I’d catch them on my run intervals (sometimes passing them). Then, they’d pass me on my walk breaks. I crossed the 5K mark at 38:50. This was not a great time for me. I had finished mile three in just over 36 minutes. That potty break was costing me time. I had this idea that the course went mostly downhill in miles 7 through the finish. Since I wasn’t running as quickly as I wanted, I started thinking of switching my run/walk ratios to 30/90. I kept telling myself that I’d start the new intervals at the start of the next mile. However, I kept going 30/60.
Throughout various parts of the course, people had written various encouraging words on the road. There was even this hop scotch. It’s fun to see encouraging words and funny saying on signs people hold off to the side of the road. It’s even funner to see them on the roads!
My five-mile time was around 1 hour, 2 minutes. This was giving me signs that my PR was out of the question. I really needed to be under an hour for the first 5 minutes. However, I wasn’t too far over Plus, I was still in sight of the 2:45 pacer. To top it off, I knew that I only had another mile before the course got favorable. Or so I thought.
The hills were getting to me a little and I kept telling myself to switch my intervals but finding a reason to keep them at 30/60. I was still within sight of the 2:45 pacer. However, by the 6th mile, I was no longer catching them on my run intervals. I crossed the six-mile marker around 1 hour, 15 minutes. Not PR pace. I was going to switch up my intervals in mile 7, but, I wanted to keep my 10K time down. So, I kept going.
By mile 8, it was becoming obvious that this race was not as advertised. There were hills in every mile. To be fair, we were hitting much better declines in this part of the course. However, the continued rolling hills were not what I was expecting. So, by the 8th mile, I finally gave in and started running 30 seconds, walking 90 seconds. That’s where I saw the 2:45 pacers go out of sight for good. It was discouraging to see that. However, I could feel the benefits right away. I crossed the 8 mile marker around 1 hour 40 minutes. That’s when I started thinking I had a 2nd fastest half marathon time in me. If I could finish the remaining 5.1 miles in under 1 hour, 10 minutes, I’d get it.
I think we ran through this guy in the 9th mile, but it could have been the 8th.
In mile 9, we came to the roughest incline of the race (in my opinion). You know it’s going to be rough when the race organizers place a sign like this on the course.
This was the crest of that hill. I’m not going to lie. I walked the hill and it was still brutal.
I believe that this is somewhere in mile 10. I was mostly keeping to the run 30 seconds, walk 90 seconds. The runs were becoming a chore. However, each time I started thinking about how long it was going to take to finish, it was still looking like I’d finish somewhere around 2 hours, 47 minutes or 1 hours 48 minutes. While I didn’t know the exact seconds of my previous 2nd fastest half, I knew it was 2 hours 49 minutes. So, I wanted to beat that. However, I needed to keep the run intervals happening. I finished mile 10 in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 19 seconds. This was off from my PR half and with the rolling hills, my focus needed to be on setting a second fastest half time.
In mile 11, we passed these Korean drum group. It brought back good memories from the LA Marathon when we passed another Korean Drum group in the 4th mile.
In the 12th mile, we had a long downhill portion which I loved! I even had one or two run intervals that went for an entire minute.
Towards the bottom of the hill, I spied some of the We Run Social group.
I know this is blurry. However, I was on a run interval as I passed them. So, I couldn’t get a great picture. After all, I was still chasing that 2nd fastest time. Seeing them gave me a real boost! Carlee and Brian had already finished their half marathon and had come back on the course to cheer other We Run Social runners. How cool is that? They were joined by A.J. and Ivie. Good times!
Shortly, past them, was the mile 12 marker! Only 1.1 miles left. I was still on track for a 2:47 or 2:48 finish! Right as I got to 1 mile left, someone came by me and exclaimed…1 mile to go! I’ve never been so excited about the last mile before!
This freeway overpass would have been more heavenly if it was a hot day. Fortunately, it was overcast, with cool temps.
The music was loud with a DJ as we approached another tunnel!
Inside the tunnel, the music was boomin’ and there were lots of lights. Totally fun stuff! Once outside the tunnel, we were in the last half mile. The time was looking good. I knew it would be close. So, I had to keep going. I wanted that 2:48 so bad. There was a little bit of an up hill to the 13 mile marker and then it was downhill for the last tenth of a mile. I debated on how much to run once I got into the last quarter-mile. I decided to run 30, walk, 30, and sprint to the finish. I tried to get a finish line picture. However, it didn’t come out. Oh well! I wanted that 2:48 time and it was in my grasp. So, there was no time to perfect that finish line shot.
When you’re about to finish with a great time, there is this surge of energy you get by the finish line. It calls to you. It draws you in. No matter how you feel before you see it, the energy is there to finish. As I got closer and closer, I knew I was going to cross with my 2nd fastest time. I could smile. I could be joyful and enjoy the moment. I raised my hands.
After crossing the finish line, I stopped my watch and looked to see what the result was. The time read 2:49:02. Since I knew that I didn’t stop the watch right at the finish line, I checked my phone to see the official time. After all, I was having the times texted to me. I was overwhelmed to read my official finish time at 2:48:55! A new 2nd fastest time! I was so overwhelmed that I shed a few tears of joy.
I know that it wasn’t the time I wanted before the race or a new PR. However, I fought hard to get this result. So many times on the course, I could have quit. That’s what I did at the Surf City USA Half Marathon earlier this year. This time, I kept fighting. I had heard Meb say somewhere that you should have a few goals when you go into a race. That way if you don’t hit your first goal, you still have something to shoot for. All we can do is our best in the moment we are racing. We train hard to get fast results. However, until we’re on the course, we won’t know for sure how it will all turn out. I was overwhelmed because of the 12 half marathons I’ve finished, I had only finished 1 half marathon faster. You can’t complain about that. It’s only my 3rd sub 2 hour, 50 minute half marathon. To get back to that made me feel like a rock star!
I did take my time a little bit in the finisher’s chute. They gave me a water and my finisher’s medal. Then, came the large bottle of Gatorade, chocolate milk, power bar, etc. The Rock n Roll races give you way too much food at the end. They should give you a bag to carry it all. This was a race I wanted to savor. Before leaving the finisher’s chute, I wanted to make sure I knew where we got our Remix Challenge medals. I knew they wouldn’t let us back in once we left. Unfortunately, we had to go all the way to Petco Ballpark to get them. The crowds were crazy.
So, while I was waiting, I took a selfie with my newest bling!
Once inside Petco, the crowds were just as crazy. I took this picture after getting my Remix Challenge medal. It was just too crazy to grab a picture before.
Once I got the medal, I decided to walk all the way down to the field where the after party concert was in full swing. The band OAR was playing. I have no idea who they were. However, since I was at a baseball stadium to get my medal, I wanted an on field pic.
They had signs congratulating us all the way around the stadium!
The crowd was pretty massive!
As I was leaving, I decided I needed to get a picture with Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn. The crowd is still large.
As a Tony Gwynn fan, this picture was a must.
One last picture with the stadium in the background before heading back to the hotel. It was a great day for a race and I had an amazing time running!
It was billed as an Epic Summer Run and this truly was! I can’t wait to come back next year and run in it again.