Santa Cruz Half Marathon
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Santa Cruz Half Marathon - RunHalf Marathon
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I started off "fast," as per the PR plan. The course hits a pretty steep hill immediately, but I think I ran about an 8:40 the first mile so I was starting off exactly where I wanted. The next few miles were pretty on target too, I think. I was feeling strong and happy to be racing again.
I started popping Shot Bloks at mile 5, and kept it up every two miles thereafter. In hindsight, I think I overdid it a little since I felt "full" at times; probably two or three would have done the trick. I walked two water stations just because of traffic jams, and I wanted to make sure I got my drink.
At about mile six or or seven the course hit the trail portion, which was pretty muddy from the recent storms, with huge puddles in some places. Several times the trail split into two "tracks" to veer around puddles, and you had to choose between the "fast" track or the "slow" track. I usually chose the fast track, which led to a surprise 8:30 mile in the middle of the race. Otherwise, I think the trails probably did slow me down. But it was amazing running out there -- right on the edge of a cliff, the waves crashing just below, the ocean going on forever, and looking around, these long strings of colorful runners in front of and behind me. I loved this section of the race.
At about mile 9 we headed back to the road (actually a paved bike path) and I started thinking that I might have a shot at this PR. Then we hit the worst hill of the race -- so steep that several of the "fast" runners were walking it -- and I managed to jog up the thing but felt pretty beat up at the top. I don't think the hill killed me, but miles 10-13 were definitely tough. I purposely wasn't checking my time, but I knew based on my mile splits that the PR probably wasn't happening (although I also knew there was no way I was missing my sub-2 goal, so I wasn't especially disappointed).
The last few miles I just focused on running as smooth and loose as I could while still keeping a good pace (and also focusing on my mental game, since that's what usually suffers most for me at the end of the race). I'd definitely slowed down -- I think my last two miles were around 9:05/9:10 -- but it wasn't terrible. The finish was awesome. The course goes down the first steep hill of the race, which is a blast to fly down at the end, just letting your legs run away with you, and then it's a short sprint through deep, wet sand to the finish. Ha! Nothing like finishing in sand. Actually, I thought it'd be awful but it was such a short bit that I really didn't mind.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing on race day, but in training I wish I'd focused a little more on speed. I definitely skipped a few pace/tempo runs that the plan called for -- in fact, I only ran what ended up being my race pace maybe two or three times in training, and always for very short runs. I was thinking that I wanted to err on the side of safety in preparing for my "comeback" race. That probably wasn't a bad decision, but I do think it probably affected my speed in this race. But I have no regrets about going out at an aggressive pace and faltering in the end. I wanted to give the PR a fair shot, and I feel like I did, even if I ultimately didn't have it in me.
I walked through the maze of post-race runners (there were A LOT of people milling about from the HM and an earlier 10K race) and made my way back to the finish chute to wait for James. I did some stretching while waiting about 20 minutes.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Taking two years off from training, and a lack of speedwork.
Fun race! It was actually better organized than I'd expected (I thought it was more of a local, granola-crunchy race), with lots of volunteers and an efficient registration/check-in process. The volunteers and random supporters on the course were a little low-key, but the course itself was so beautiful that I can hardly complain. I'd definitely recommend this race.
Last updated: 2012-03-30 12:00 AM
2012-04-04 12:17 AM
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Overall Rank = 744/2391
Age Group = 30-39
Age Group Rank = 105/485
This was my first "real" race in about two years, after a long and slow recovery from PF. I never stopped running entirely but my mileage got very low while I tried to shake the injury. I started training again last July to prepare for Ragnar Relay, which I did just for fun. By the start of this year I felt ready to train in earnest again and set this half as my target race.
I used a conservative plan (Higdon intermediate) and my initial goal was to come in under two hours. But a week or two before the race I decided I needed to be more aggressive. My weekly mileage was similar to my previous PR (from four years ago -- yikes), plus I was about 10 pounds lighter (and four year older -- yikes again). So I figured what the hell, let's aim for the PR.
My friend James joined me for his first half marathon. We drove down to Santa Cruz the night before, and I actually slept fairly well -- got about five hours, which for me is amazing. We woke a little before 6 a.m. and I snacked on a pre-made peanut butter sandwich. We walked down to the start to get our bibs at 6:30, then hung out in a wonderful coffee shop for an hour. Yay! Nothing like a delicious Americano before a race. By 7:30 a.m. the sun had come out so we walked back to my car to drop off our sweatshirts and then returned to the start line about 7:55. I worked my way toward the front end of the crowd to avoid the crush at the back of the pack.
Nothing, other than some walking back and forth from my car to the start line (about four blocks) and warming up with my Americano.