Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Infamous Half - What, Like It's Hard?

April 24, 2010 - I sign up for the America's Finest City Half Marathon.

April 25, 2010 - 2 runners in the La Jolla Half Marathon collapse of heart attacks. Thatboy informs me he doesn't think my half marathon idea is such a good one.

May 24, 2010 - August 14, 2010 - Training! I had some really awful runs, including an 8 miler I thought would never end. I took so long that Thatboy started worrying and called me to check and see if I was alright - "I'm only a quarter mile away" I told him, "but can you come out and meet me? I could really use a little pick me up." After that I changed up my pre-fueling routine as well as my fueling during my runs. I had done the 15k without needing any supplements, but for some reason, maybe running in the summer instead of winter, I could not make it through 9 miles without a little fuel while I was running. After I got that under control, it was all smooth sailing. I upped my weekday runs to 5 miles, and while at first I dreaded tacking on the extra miles, after the first few weeks 5 miles just flew by. And my weekend runs were amazingly glorious. I did most of them running along the coast, enjoying the view and working on a killer farmer's tan my capris give me. And then there was my last run in Mendocino, which was supposed to be 10 miles - my longest to date. Running through the forest at the crack of dawn was both scary and exhilarating. I sang out loud as I ran to make sure the "Warning: Mountain Lions" knew there was a person coming so they could skedaddle. I didn't quite make it all 10 miles because I got a later start than expected and I had to make it back for breakfast, but I did over 9 and felt like I could keep going easy after that. And it completely endeared me to one of the innkeepers who called me his "little runner girl" for our entire stay there. (More Mendocino good times later).

A couple weeks before the race Faye was in town visiting and we went for a long walk where I confessed all my fears about the half. Faye had already run this particular half before, and even though I knew my fears were ridiculous, I really wanted to hear someone else say that! I had 2 big worries about the race:

1) Time. The course had a 3 hour time limit. This is about a 14 minute mile. Now, recently my typical race speed has been hovering a bit below a 9:30 min/mile, but even before that my race speed was around a 10 min/mile. My "hey, I think I'll go for a lazy run" speed is about an 11 min/mile, and my "I better slow down and catch my breath" speed is about a 12 min/mile. So 14 minutes was easily within my grasp. But a little bug inside my head kept thinking "what if it isn't?" Faye kind of rolled her eyes at me with this concern and told me she was sure I'd finish in the allotted time.

2) THE HILL. Requiring all kinds of capital letters. This is a serious hill. (Although UDubb and I looked at the half she ran in Vancouver and it had a hill that made this one look practically flat.) Check out the rise in elevation between mile 11.5(ish) and 12.5(ish):

Folks - that's about 200 FEET in 1 MILE!!! Now my typical weekday run has a hill that goes up about 100 feet in a mile, so I'm no stranger to hills, but that hill kills me and it's half the elevation! AND it's in the middle of my run, so I know when I get to the top I get to turn around and head home. Who puts a hill like this in the last 2 miles of the course? Thatboy kept assuring me that the hills I ran in Mendocino were way steeper than this hill, but I wasn't buying it. "I walked that hill" Faye told me.

"Yeah, but Faye, you're a much faster runner than I am, there's no way I'm going to be able to walk that hill AND come in within 3 hours."

August 15, 2010 - The day of the race. I was up before dawn. Normally Thatboy drives me to the race and hangs out while I warm up and we wait for the race to start, but this race started at Cabrillo National Monument, a place where we had to be bused to. Which meant I wouldn't have my cheering section there at the start, and I'd have to bus it up there alone. Thatboy dropped me off at the bus stop and I stood in line alone and in the dark and waited to board.

When I got on the bus, my nerves got the better of me. I fought back tears as I texted Thatboy - "I feel like I got on the wrong bus, I don't belong here, I feel like a fraud." I got a quick text back with some words of encouragement. It felt like the longest bus ride of my life and I second guessed myself the entire time.

Luckily once off the bus, a few laps around the parking lot that was serving as the holding area helped me calm down a bit and regain my composure. And it wasn't too long before the sun was up and we began all walking down to the start line. Or so I thought! There were so many people running this race, that by the time I could see the start line I saw that people weren't stopping - just running through! The race had started!

The first three miles seemed to go by so quickly. I don't remember a 5k ever feeling so easy. And I was keeping a pretty consistent 10 minute pace. My goal for the half was just to finish (3 hours), but my little head wanted me to come in around 2:30, and my little heart wanted me closer to 2:10.

Pretty soon I was at mile 6. "Huh," I thought - "I've already run a 10k!" And due to my new fueling technique, I felt a lot stronger than I had during my last 10k.

At mile 7 I realized I was over half way through! "You have less to run now than you've already ran!"

At mile 8 they were handing out champagne, and I remember thinking "I have 5 miles more to go and there is no way I'll be able to finish if I get drunk. And there's no way I can drink champagne right now without getting drunk."

Mile 9 was the hardest for me. To tell you the truth, I remember very little about that mile. I couldn't tell you ANY of the sites I saw or where mile 9 was in relation to the city. I just remember thinking "You're almost a mile 10 - then you just have a 5k left!"

At mile 10 they were handing out hamburgers. Really? Hamburgers? The thought of burgers in the morning while I was running made my stomach turn a little. And this is also where they had a "car wash" set up where you could run through sprinklers. "That'd ruin my ipod" I thought as I avoided the spray. "Only a 5k left to run!"

I was dreading mile 11 - remember that hill? But my time was much better than I thought it would be. I had kept a pretty consistent 10 min/mile for the first half of the race, and around mile 8 slowed down a bit to 11 min/mile. I figured out I could definitely walk the hill and still make it within 3 hours (heck, I could still make it in 2:30). And so when the ground rose up in front of me, I joined almost everyone else in walk/running between mile 11.5 and 12.5. It was cute to see us all passing and getting passed by the same people as we would run a bit, walk a bit, run a bit, walk a bit. It was like the whole race was playing a game of yo-yo.

Between mile 12.5 and the finish I really had to push myself. That's why I typically don't walk during a race, I have a really hard time picking my momentum back up. But I knew I was going to finish, it was right around the corner. Although when one of the "helpful" cheerers yelled that we just had to "push it a little harder" I nearly stopped running so I could kick him. "Push it a little harder?" You're standing there cheering. You run 13 miles and tell me how much harder you're able to push it.

And then I saw the finish and I just sprinted for it. Why not right? If you're going to crumple after crossing, you might as well put on a good show.

But I ended up not crumpling. At all. Like the opposite of crumpling. Thatboy said I didn't look like I had just run a half marathon. He said the nonchalant way I crossed made it seem like I had just finished a 5k. Thatmom also commented that I looked less exhausted than she would have thought. And honestly? I felt fine. Good even. I don't think I could have run much longer, but I definitely wasn't dropping and dying. And, I made myself proud coming in UNDER 2:30. It wasn't 2:10, but it might have been if I hadn't walked a portion of the race, so it's something that I feel is within my reach.

And another fun playlist! I actually didn't get through all of my playlist, so here's what I did listen to!

Half Marathon Playlist
  • Dumpweed - Blink 182
  • Wake Up Call - Maroon 5 (Welcome to the Maroon 5 portion of the playlist)
  • Little of Your Time - Maroon 5
  • Hey Ya - Outkast
  • All these things that I have done - The Killers
  • Stronger - Britney Spears (Ooooh it's the fun girl portion of the playlist!)
  • Barbie Girl - Aqua
  • Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order
  • Hips Don’t Lie - Shakira
  • Smooth - Rob Thomas and Santana
  • Candyman - Christina Aguilara
  • Living on a prayer - Bon Jovi ("ooohhh we're half way there" -I was hoping this would come on when I reached mile 6.5, but it was a little early)
  • This is how we do it - Montell Jordan
  • Sorrow- Bad Religion
  • Paralyzer - Finger Eleven
  • It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me - Billy Joel
  • Laid - James
  • La Vie Boheme - Soundtrack from Rent
  • Bootylicious - Destiny's Child
  • Here Comes the Sun - Beatles
  • House of the Rising Sun - Animals
  • What’s your fantasy - Ludacris
  • Bennie and the Jets - Elton John
  • Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks
  • Bye Bye Bye - N'Sync
  • I run for life - Melissa Etheridge
  • Crocodile Rock - Elton John
  • Shawty Get Loose - PBT
  • Dance Epidemic - Electric Six
  • How You Like Me Now - The Heavy
  • Brown Derby Jump - Cherry Poppin' Daddies
  • Lost Again - Dance Hall Crashers
  • 1-76 - G Love and Special Sauce ( I had a pen pal in elementary school who introduced me to them and a high school friend who LOVED them, so a little tribute to my past with the inclusion of some fun songs)
  • Recipe - G Love and Special Sauce
  • Fat Bottom Girls - Queen
  • Blister in the Sun - Violent Femmes
  • Gone Country - Alan Jackson (This would have introduced the country portion of my playlist, but I ran too fast so I only got 2 songs)
  • Chasin that Neon Rainbow - Alan Jackson


  1. That is just so awesome That Girl!!!!!!It is no easy feat and you came out the winner.

  2. AWESOME JOB!!!! And I love that playlist.

  3. Congrats! This is so incredibly awesome!

    And can I tell you how much I LOVE that you have bye bye bye on your playlist?!?!?

  4. congratulations! what a great play-by-play of the race. i really enjoyed reading it - but i gotta admit, thoroughly grossed out by the stuff being handed out as you ran. BURGERS? that's just not right.

  5. Great job! You conquered your fear. 1/2 marathon is pretty fricken far. Even driving 13 miles seems out of the way.

  6. Congrats! Such a great accomplishment and I know you will remember and be proud of it forever. You rock!

  7. Yay! When is the next race?