DATE: Sunday, February 2, 2014
LOCATION: Huntington Beach, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:45 am (wave start)
FINISH TIME: 01:55:36
Earlier in my running career, I was a lot more "hardcore" and "crazy" than now. Since antics like doing a few half-marathons every other weekend, a 5K the day before a marathon, or a 10K mud run before a marathon, or running a 5K and 10K the same morning, I've been on the lay-low, especially given that I no longer put in nearly the same mileage as before.
So for this race, I tried to ignore the fact that Carlsbad Marathon had just been two weeks ago. During the gap, I think I went out to run 4.5 miles one day (slowly) and did relatively tame workout videos. Oh, and I really did try to eat well -- for example, this half-eaten dinner:
"The Ukrainian" was worse -- he ran the full marathon at Surf City, and -- spoiler -- finished in 3:29 (3:34 two weeks ago).
Anyway, the weekend started out with lunch at my parents' house, then a drive down to Huntington Beach, where I saw K working the volunteer coordinator booth as always. I had made some matcha muffins the day before with the intention to bring it to her, but they seemed to be kind of dry and bland, so I added some vanilla frosting on top (not pictured). Yes, I did bring them over, because I did not want to SAY that I did something without some kind of tangible result. Sorry for not using a more tried-and-true recipe!
Since I had the dumb foresight of signing up to volunteer on race day and not the day before, we made our way through the crowded expo and headed home. Dinner was Vietnamese vermicelli, which is what "The Ukrainian" wanted.
We woke up at 4 and finally arrived to the site and parked at 5:30 (!). Traffic was definitely more crazy this year than I remember from previous ones. Anyway, since I had committed to helping with volunteer coordination, I hurried myself in and dove right into it. It took me a bit to get my bearings, as I was remembering how to do my job, and I think the caffeine from the Vega drink I was having was getting to me. "The Ukrainian" bid me goodbye, as his marathon was starting much before my race.
Finally, about 10 minutes before the start, I made my way to the corrals, wishing I had gone to the restroom. After waiting in the somewhat disorganized corrals (due to people sneaking in), we started in waves -- I think my start was 10 minutes after the gun.
I felt my bladder full during the first few miles, but as I predicted, the need disappeared. I started off with short, quick strides, as I knew I was not FULLY recovered from two weeks ago, and the last time I ran a half-marathon was in 2012 (how did that happen?!).
Anyway, given that this was the fifth(?) time I've done this race, I knew that my main obstacle was going to be my lack of overall running fitness. Admittedly, I was pushing harder than usual because I definitely wanted to come in under two hours.
Here are my paces. I think I did pretty well, all considering. My main goal was to keep around 8:40 for my paces, since my half-marathon PR (also at this race!) was run at 8:41-ish pace. Since I mostly run at around a 10 min/mi these days, keeping that kind of pace was a feat. I was just pretending I was someone else. Plus, this was my first half in a long time, and since I haven't registered for any more yet, could be the last for a while.
Mile 1 - 8:41
Mile 2 - 8:33
Mile 3 - 8:34
Mile 4 - 8:54
Mile 5 - 8:41
Mile 6 - 8:34
Mile 7 - 8:44
Mile 8 - 8:43
Mile 9 - 8:57 -- turnaround point, into direct headwind
Mile 10 - 8:58
Mile 11 - 9:14 -- felt "the twitch" in my calf, also my shoe laces became untied here, and I had to address
Mile 12 - 9:04
Mile 13 - 8:47 -- I was pushing so darn hard at this point, though the finish felt so far
.14 - 7:55
I was about a minute and 20 seconds off of my PR in the end. In writing this entry, I actually thought my PR was 1:53, not 1:54, but alas. Actually, when going back to check, this year's result is about 20 seconds faster than my performance the last time I did this race two years ago. So overall, I'm kind of proud of myself for laying out all my efforts out there and not being afraid of my twitching calf and the fact that I'm out of shape and still somewhat in recovery mode. Of course, there were moments that I thought I would PR, so there is a twinge of disappointment, but the big picture tells me otherwise.
When I finished (alongside a really gassy man, for the record), I made my way back to the expo tent to spend another hour and a half at the volunteer booth, just handing out shirts at this point. "The Ukrainian" finished shortly later and waited for me to leave. For the first time ever, I had to drive us home after the race. I don't drive anymore after running ever since I pulled my muscle on the road once and was lucky that I didn't get into an accident. I'm so dangerous. Although I had some questionable moments because my calves were tight and my stomach and bladder wanted to pay me back for not listening to them, I drove the 50-ish miles home just fine.
Example of shirts from left to right: volunteer, longboard legacy, and finisher's (yep, pink!):
Cool longboard medal, as usual!
I have a 10K at the end of the month, and then another big race in April. I should really try to run more half-marathons, I think I have some room to grow in these without the physical limitations of running a full marathon. Now it's just a matter of finding one that has the right conditions...