AFC 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Going into this race, I really didn't know what to expect. I had just finished putting in a solid three week-block of training, but it still only consisted of 20-25 miles a week of running. My long runs consisted of three at 11 miles and one at 14 miles in the past month. Most of this is due to wrecking myself on the bike the day before - and that was about all my body could handle. However, the speed work and fartlek workouts I was doing made me a believer that I was definitely in sub 1:15 shape. It was kinda hard to set a plan for the race since I hadn't seen the course. Even though I was familiar with a lot of it (some of the course was on the SD International course), I still didn't know the extent of the downhills, uphills and rollers. Everyone I talked to had something different to say about the course. Some said it was faster than a flat course, some said it was a very difficult course and most said that all of the downhill will make up for the uphills...

Amy and I during the chaos of the golf tournament
To back up a bit...The race happened to fall on the same week as the most stressful week of the year for me. I am the Event Director for our companies huge annual golf tournament and it fell on the Friday before the race. Months and months of preparation go into this event and my boss always wants it perfect. The event went fine, but I was on my feet and in the sun running around from 7am to about 9pm. I was exhausted mentally and physically. The good news was I had all day the next day to relax/recover before the race on Sunday. So the week wasn't my ideal race prep week. I had to skip three days of training (because of work), but I still managed to get in a track workout, a little tempo run and a tune up run before the race. It's funny, with all of the days off I started having a bunch of little nagging injuries come to life. I only swam once and didn't cycle at all during the week and all of the sudden I start getting hip pain and sciatic nerve pain. What the heck!!??

Race morning: We stayed in Ramona all weekend with Amy's parents since the tournament and race were both in San Diego. I got up at 3:30am, ate my new pre-race breakfast---baked (microwaved) potato with butter and spike, a banana and a Powerbar. I woke up Amy and then we both headed out, leaving the kids with the Grandparents for the day. I hooked up with my buddy Jayson Swigart (Boulder -Leadville stud) and his friend Ewen North (who ran a sick 1:07 that day) at their hotel while Amy went and found a place to go back to sleep. After Jayson and I talked trash for a bit, we walked over to the finish line where shuttles were taking runners over to the start in Pt. Loma (point to point race). We got to the start and it was a madhouse. 8,000 1/2 marathoners lined up the Porto-potties. It was ridiculous, not only were their huge lines for the bathrooms, but there was no place to warm up. Literally. Security didn't allow anyone out of the area. Imagine one big circle that was bordered by cliffs with no way out. You could only run maybe 5 steps before you ran into somebody on the ground stretching or waiting in line for the bathroom. I could only imagine the reasoning behind this is people not getting back in time for the start, regardless - it was my first race I'd ever done without a warm up. Lame.

I checked my gear into the bag check in, took down a Clif Chocolate Cherry Gel that had "2 shots" of caffeine in it. I've found that I do a lot better not taking in any coffee before the race and using gels as my caffeine fix. I made my way to the front of the "non-elites" and they called us up for the start. This was probably the least nervous I'd ever been for a race. Since it wasn't a triathlon, I really didn't feel any pressure. I knew this was more of a training run to see where I'm at with my running fitness. The gun went off and everyone started out pretty hard. I decided to slowly work my way up the first mile...After all, this was my warm-up! I was told the first 6 miles were all downhill...This was definitely not the case. We hit 2 pretty steep hills in the fist 2 miles that I remember going up on my bike during SD Int'l. I went through 2 miles right at 11:24 and then that's when the downhills began. Some of them were quite steep. I decided to just open up my stride and just go on feel (not push). It felt great for the first mile or so, but then I started to feel the pounding my legs were taking. By the time we got to the 10k and it flattened out I could tell all of the downhill already took its toll on me. I had trouble finding my pace. I'd run 5:39 then a 6:02, just putting in random surges---I really didn't feel comfortable or in control like I normally do.

I hit the 10k in 34:48 which is 1:13 pace. I popped in a Margarita Clif Shot Blok to help steer away cramps. At this point I still felt strong but wondered if I should have played those downhills a little more conservatively. I saw my buddy Jayson whom I'd made a bet with. We made an over/under bet of 4 mins (him beating me) As we rounded to the 8th mile I timed it when I saw him hit a check point (what else was there to do? I was running alone and in no-mans land the whole race). I was exactly 2 minutes from him and the thought of beating him started occurring to me...Which meant a 12 pack! So I picked up the pace a bit to try and get up to him so we could work together and went 5:39 to try and close the gap. It seemed way harder than it should have. My heart rate slowly starting shooting up and this is when the pain started hitting me and I hit the wall. I popped in another Shot Blok and did every mind trick I had up my sleeve. I'd force the pace for 2 mins only to slow down the next 2. As I went through mile 11 I knew the hills were coming and boy did they ever. We had already been through some deceiving rollers, but now is when the hills came in full force. They were steep. 2 miles steep. I hit the last two miles in 6:44 and 6:27 which tells you how steep they were. Done! Surprisingly I was only passed by 2 guys up the hill - I thought it would have been a lot worse. As we came in for the last 1/2 mile I heard people saying, "Here comes the first girl!" I knew I was wearing a pink headband but I also knew the ladies were coming! So I gave it what I had and crossed in 1:17:05, which was a minute PR on a tough course.

Notice the guy in the back puking his
guts out...
I was pretty disappointed at first because I really thought I was in sub 1:15 shape...but who can complain about a PR? I also did NOT respect that course enough. It is very tough and I would have easily had 2 more minutes in me on a flat course. It wasn't just the uphills that killed me, the downhills seemed like they zapped all the energy out of my legs! I didn't cramp up, so the shot bloks seemed to have done the job, I probably could have taken another gel (all I took in during the race was 2 shot bloks and 2 sips of water). It was definitely a different experience than the R&R 1/2 that I did in AZ back in January. That one was so much more fun and pleasant. I didn't start hurting until the last few miles on that one and fell in love with the distance. This one was a suffer fest for like 6 miles...I finished up and met up with friends. Amy helped me walk to the finish area to pick up my bag. I ate a bit, drank a bit, cramped a bit and was just kinda out of it for the next hour. I was bummed they didn't have a beer garden - who doesn't these days in big events!!?? So we all headed over and got some drinks and food at a Mexican place and called it a day.

5th in my Age Group (out of 600ish)
31st overall (out of 8000 runners)

My splits:
5.25 (17:20 5k)
5:50 (34:48 10k)
1:06 (.2 on my watch)

Jay, Ewen and I at the finish area, recovering with
some Mix 1 

David Lipke and I right at the finish...I look pale and ill. Felt pale and ill!
Ryan, me and Jeremiah

Amy (my awesome supporter) and I for the finishing photo
Feeling better and happier at Happy Hour

More pics can be found here:

Enough of this running, time to get back in the pool and bike!!!


Charisa said...

Congrats on the PR!

James said...

Thanks Charisa!

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