Sunday, September 11, 2011

Heartbreak Ridge Half-Marathon

EVENT: Heartbreak Ridge Half-Marathon
DATE: Saturday, September 10, 2011
LOCATION: Camp Pendleton (San Diego County, CA)
RACE BEGAN: 8:25 AM (wave start)
FINISH TIME: 02:05:19

Sorry it took a while to get this posted.  This was a mini-vacation weekend for me and didn't have any technology with me until now.

I wrote the following comments when I initially announced that I registered for this race back in June:

Registering for a half-marathon without a medal promised is totally against my belief system.  Not to mention, this is the week where the Run for the Memorial is scheduled (though I hear they are not offering a 10k anymore, boo!).

Really, I entered this race because "The Ukrainian" really wanted to plug in a half-marathon during this time period.  Running on 90% gravel roads on rolling hills doesn't exactly sound like fun.  The last time I was at Camp Pendleton, the heat and hills were KILLING me, so I can only imagine doing 13 miles of this.  

Well, at least I get a tech tee.  I hope they'll offer gender-specific ones. =/  Also, I'll be visiting one of my buds that weekend to make the drive shorter...

So now that I've done this, first of all, the tech shirts they gave in lieu of a medal were NOT gender-specific.

But let's talk about the race first.  As I mentioned, I stayed with a friend and *only* had about a 40-minute drive to the start.  From what I understood about this race (very little info provided online!), we were lucky to have overcast weather. To have any more heat would have added another 15 minutes to my time!

We began in waves: military men at 8:15 AM (originally 8:05), civilian men (like "The Ukrainian") at 8:20, and military/civilian women at 8:25.  I didn't like starting behind everyone else, but I found that along the way, I passed a LOT of military men, to my surprise.  And no, I didn't find the term "civilian" to be offensive at all.

So I'll come out and say that this was a HARD race.  On THIS site, it claimed that this course was mostly tough in the first half and downhill in the second.  Wrong!  I am not sure how "rolling hills" can consist of seemingly mostly uphills, but I felt like I was consistently climbing during both halves of this race.  The climbs went from do-able to gasping to downright painful.

The terrain was very much like a trail race, just with fewer chasms in the ground.  In fact, dust/dirt was flying around everywhere, and I was covered in a good layer of sand by the end.  It was rough on my joints, and I felt my quads pooping out really quickly from all the elevation changes and avoiding rocks.

My splits:

Mile 1 - 8:10
Mile 2 - 8:58
Mile 3 - 10:17 <-- really steep here (I think this was the "heartbreak ridge," but I ran up the whole thing)
Mile 4 - 8:46
Mile 5 - 8:42
Mile 6 - 8:48
turnaround point at Mile 6.5
Mile 7 - 9:00 <-- legs felt like lead... climbed up and up slowly for the most part for what seemed like the rest of the race
Mile 8 - 9:49 <-- felt overheated and beat up and took my dose of Fukkitol (a joke, of course)
Mile 9 - 10:55 <-- knee reminded me of its presence
Mile 10 - 10:36
Mile 11 - 11:17 <-- calves were starting to twitch, ha ha! then had to reclimb "heartbreak ridge"
Mile 12 - 9:37 <-- entire pelvis numb but decided to try to keep it together
Mile 13 - 9:41
.1 - 00:37 (8:00 min/mi)

I spent a lot of time while running feeling defeated, as I had wanted to come in under 2 hours and wanted to see some good progress since I'm halfway through my marathon training program.  I overshot my PR by about 11 minutes, while "The Ukrainian" overshot his by about the same.  He tried to convince me that I'm doing fine and that this course was a toughie, but I do admit that I probably could have pushed a bit if I wasn't so concerned about "permanent damage," if you know what I mean.

I will definitely say that my long runs lately got me through the last couple of miles when I really felt depleted, and granted, I also have not been doing ANY hill-training whatsoever this marathon cycle because it isn't recommended in my program.  So maybe there is still some hope for my pursuit of a 4-hour marathon?

I have another half-marathon next month, my first one on roads this year, so I hope to PR on it -- or something to that effect -- since I ran that same course last year, which ran a far cry longer than 13.1.  Racing so few times this year really makes my chances to PR slim...

Running on a Marine base the day before the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks was interesting.  Along with the Mud Run, I feel great respect for our service men/women each time I go to run at Camp Pendleton.

I should also throw in that this was the first race I had to get marked up, triathlon style...

I am going to follow up with a post on what the rest of the weekend contained, as to make a point of how much crazy people can do following a race.  Some hints on what will be mentioned: orchards, slots, hockey, pie, and queueing up for 1.5 hours for food.

For now, half-marathon #19 is done, for better or worse.

Race Photos Added:


  1. This seems fun in a sadistic sort of way. It fits into my schedule but do I dare try to fit another race my calendar. Plus the price is so good.

  2. I hear this is a real ball buster!

  3. Hey congrats on the halfie! Interesting point, regarding running on the 9/11 weekend. I would imagine all the mind-wandering during the run gave you time to think about the occasion.
    Hopefully when I do my first halfer, I'm not too busy vomiting, and I can do a little deep thinking.

  4. Awesome! It looks like you did great! Those hills sound killer!

  5. Just had to comment since you got to hang out with me that weekend! You guys were such troopers after the race and spending the rest of the day with us. :) Come visit again soon and we'll try the slots again!