Thursday, January 15, 2009

SoCa Half Mary

I signed up for this race mainly because it was relatively inexpensive, $34 (a $4 club discount included). It also took place about 30 miles from home.

I got there about 40 minutes early. A brisk jog later, I pick up my bib and a sucky cotton T-shirt. Still warming up, I head back to the car to drop off my warm-ups and the "goodies." I then jog to the start with about 10 minutes to spare... enough time to stretch very tight hip flexors and piriformis. I line up very close to the front; maybe about three rows back.

The MC lets the sole wheelchair participant take off first. Two minutes later it is our turn. It's a bit crowded but I welcome it as I don't want to go out to fast. Mile 1 in 6:52. My A goal was to run sub-1:30; B is to average 7 mpm, and C a very conservative 7:15 pace.

The course is billed as flat and fast. It may be flat, but the several turns "cost" me at least 15 seconds. The Santaanas are strong and screw up my planned even-pacing. At one point a monster gust hits us and I just let go; I almost stopped altogether and walked; I did manage a jog. This female runner who had been trading places with me back-and-forth says something, but I can not discern it. I just uttered that I hated the wind.

This runner seemed to have targeted me as someone she was not going to allow to get ahead of her. Really. She would pass me, breathing rather heavily- like one would breathe when running a short tempo. Then she would fade and I'd be forced to pass her as I did not want to draft off of her. Then a couple of minutes later, she would pass me again. I was more amused than anything else. Finally around six miles, while we were running on a bike trail (more than 80% of the race took place here) I dropped her during a mild incline. Clearly she was running a bit too fast for her current fitness. She would finish about 2:30 behind me.

By eight miles I was really tired, particularly my arms. I just tried to hang on. After this mark more runners passed me than I was able to reel. I was trying really hard to catch up to a bare-foot runner (I got as close as 20 meters) but he slowly gained distance.

It's now the last mile and I am hanging on to this one guy. I am hurting as much as I have hurt in a half. I hang on though. We are now running on the sidewalk. It's the home stretch. We make one final turn and the finish banner is there. The guy in front of me picks it up; I follow through. Now he really guns it. I finish just a second or two behind him. Oddly, the official results have him seven seconds ahead of me. No matter. He helped me push myself at a point where I was running on fumes.

Five meters into the chute, I get really nauseous and I thought I was going to toss my cookies. Final time: 1:31:01. Sweet. I am pleased with the effort as I came to this race without tapering. I give myself a solid B+.

Splitville: 6:52, 7:02, 6:52, 6:37, 7:12, 14:01 (6&7), 6:56, 6:53, 7:05 [1:09:29], 7:12, 7:02, 7:16 for the last 1.1

Nice way to start the 2009 year...

Happy running!