After a less than stellar 10K a couple of weeks ago, I was starting to doubt if I had the stones it takes to go balls out on race day. I was so certain going into it that I would PR and PR by a lot, but I'd underestimated that course (hilly) and the conditions (humid).
Fast forward to today and the Long Beach Half-Marathon. My 'A' goal coming into this race was to run a sub-1:35 but I was understandably apprehensive even though those paces felt do-able in training runs. Still, I told myself I'd put my best foot forward and take whatever the day netted from that effort. I felt pretty confident that I would at least take home a PR as long as the wheels didn't completely fall off.
I rode down with my buddy Charles late Saturday afternoon and after picking up my bib, I ran into Danica/Chic Runner soon thereafter. Given that she's part of the organization that puts on the race, she understandably had a million things going through her head in the day leading up to it.
We parted ways and we continued through the expo stopping again to pick up some Nuun and then to say hello to Peter who works for the LA Marathon. Can't wait to run this race again and I know several others are as well.
After the expo, I went to see Jackass 3D with some friends to forget about the race and laugh off some nerves. Following that I was taken to get some interesting Italian/Japanese fusion pasta somewhere in Gardena.
Once home, I laid out my gear and hit the sack a little after 11pm.
Alarm went off at 4:30am and after chewing on a Clif Bar while mowing down some coffee, I got all my gear together, got picked up by Charles and we made our way down to Long Beach shortly after 5am. We arrived in our designated pre-paid parking lot with several minutes to spare so we took our time getting our things together. I wore my flashy and fast 9.3 oz KSWISS Blade-Light Run's and they ended up working out great for me today. I also decided to run with a half-filled bottle of Nuun in my waistpack which also helped out tremendously.
Looking like a dork...but ready to go!
My sweet KSWISS Blade Light Run
Made my way to the middle of Wave 1 and after the National Anthem (to which I tear up to every single time) we were off! The weather by the way was near perfect: low 60s, tons of cloud cover, slight cool breeze coming in...very ideal running conditions.
No matter how clear the sign or how many admonishments given by race officials, folks can never seem to seed themselves correctly. Thankfully, there weren't too many people to dodge and I just did my best to get into a good rhythm in the opening mile. When the mile split of my Garmin went off and I saw that it was a sub-7 mile, I reeled back the pace a tad. Last thing I wanted to do was blow up early on and not have anything left for the latter miles. Next two miles were in the low 7's. Still a tad faster than I thought they'd be but I was feeling fluid and strong so I kept the pace right around that effort.
Came through the 5K mark right around 22 minutes and I noticed that I was sweating a good deal. Hmm...might have been slightly humid out but I was still feeling good at this point. I did however get stuck between two runners for awhile whose Garmins were beeping incessantly telling them they were either going too slow or too fast. Of course it didn't bother them since they both had their iPods on. Great.
Only significant hill came a little after mile 4 as you run up an overpass. Otherwise the first few miles are flat, fast with several turns to keep the mind engaged to run the tangents as best as possible. I hit the 10K right around 44:30 which is an unofficial PR time for me and a bit of doubt crept in: was I running too fast? At this point you passed the start/finish area on the way out to the concrete bike path for the big out and back loop. I took my first gel and kept on trucking.
Around miles 7-8, fatigue was finally hitting me and I did my best to keep the legs turning over. There wasn't too much to keep the mind stimulated here so I just focused on running with certain packs of runners going at my pace. Right before mile 10, we made the last turn to loop back towards the finish. This was probably the most difficult stretch for me as I was pretty gassed and legs were feeling pretty dead. Good news thus far however was that my left knee didn't present any real problems, so there was that. I took in a 2nd gel and tried to talk my legs into bringing me in strong.
Around mile 11.5 I got my 1st cramp twinge in my right calf. It was right at the top where my calf compression sleeve ended so I actually stopped for a quick sec to hike it up to cover the affected area. Shortly after that, I felt twinges in both calves and my right hamstring. Only a little left to go and my 'A' goal of a sub-1:35 half was within reach...don't fail me now legs!
Running out of gas. Cramps. Desperately looking for a salt tab.
As soon as I hit mile 12, I put my head down and charged towards the finish as best I could. It ended up being my fastest mile but I was pretty spent by the last stretch and a few people ended up passing me. Whatever, I didn't care at that point. Finally crossed the mat absolutely spent but proud of my effort. Here's a breakdown of my mile splits:
Mile 1 - 6:57
Mile 2 - 7:09
Mile 3 - 7:03
Mile 4 - 7:07
Mile 5 - 7:02
Mile 6 - 7:06
Mile 7 - 7:07
Mile 8 - 7:09
Mile 9 - 7:16
Mile 10 - 7:18
Mile 11 - 7:34
Mile 12 - 7:20
Mile 13 - 6:52
Mile 13.1 - 1:32
Final time = 1:34:38
If I could have staved off the cramping, I would have been able to kick it in faster. But all in all, I don't think I could have given more than I did today and in the end, that's all I could have asked for.
While I greatly miss the smaller, intimate feel of my trail races, as far as road races go this was as well-organized and executed as possible. Got a nice bag of food that I actually ate (banana, Clif Bar, apple, etc) along with a chocolate milk for post-race protein. Big-time congrats for my gal Danica and the entire Run Racing team for pulling off a great race.