This race was truly unique to me. Most importantly it was “down” a mountain. Then there is the nutrition and late Friday night. I am a by the book runner, I do not deviate from my meals the night before any race more than a 5k. I am too worried. So when we grabbed a quick bite to eat at KFC Friday at around 5 pm (I had a pot pie) and then stayed up until 11:30 pm (I went to bed hungry) I was truly wondering how race day would pan out.
Saturday morning started at 4:30 am when my alarm went off. I was tired but knew I had to eat before 5 since the race started at 7! Crap…no bagels! Ok, my meal the night before was off and now so was breakfast. I found a small banana nut muffin and some peanut butter sandwich crackers. <–yes the kind you get for kids in the little packages!! So I had those and a Gatorade. I hung out until around 5:30 and then woke up Dare so he could eat his pre-race food too.
Just before 6 we headed out of our room across the parking lot where a bus waited to take the half marathoners up to the start. Dare wasn’t getting on a bus until 7:30 so he went back to the room after walking me out. I chose not to take my phone with me so I didn’t have to carry it as I do most of my runs without music anyway! 🙂 So it was just me, a salted watermelon GU and a half bottle of water.
When we reached the starting area the race workers were still setting up cones. We noticed they were marking a turn around point right at the start. All of the racers were now very curious. We had all heard they were adding mileage at the top of the mountain but didn’t know where. Soon the race director Sean was telling us the last bus was on its way up and we would be starting soon. The start ended up being around 10 minutes late.
When the last bus arrived, they explained the course change. We were to head down the mountain for 1.6 miles, turn around, head back to the start and then turn to go back down. This was an interesting add to the race!
Miles 1-3: (9:17) (9:20) (9:18) elevation: (gained 221) (lost 298)
The first mile was a slight uphill and then mostly down hill until the turnaround at 1.6, then we headed right back up until returning to the start to head back down. By the time I hit mile 2 I had already witnessed several people walking. The mountain air along with the steep incline was proving difficult for a lot of runners. I had tried to go out conservatively which helped a lot in these first few miles. I knew I wasn’t burning myself out early on but the control freak in me was doing math each mile to make sure I was still on pace for my goal time. lol! I grabbed a water at the first station.
Miles 4-6: (9:55) (8:59) (8:51) elevation: (gained 174) (lost 436)
Mile 4 proved to be very difficult. We just came off a pretty intense downhill and then hit a long uphill that curved quit a bit so much so that your ankles were at an angle. When I saw my split I was seriously concerned! It was too early in the race for that! Again I was doing more math. We passed an aid station at about 5.5 where I snagged a sports drink. At this point I was just trying to let myself go, not think about the race and just run in the moment. The road down was so beautiful!! Every now and then you would get a glimpse off the mountain into the valley! When I quit worrying is when I notice I was able to pull myself together and just run. It was a nice feeling.
Miles 7-9: (8:03) (8:15) (8:20) elevation: (gained 42) (lost 899)
The elevation loss during these miles was intense. I trained on hills but could feel the beating my legs were taking. I was focusing on shorter sides and light feet. The last thing I wanted was to have trashed quads before the race was over!! I took my GU at around mile 7.5 knowing there was another aid station coming up to get water at to wash it down. We hit the aid station at about mile 8.5!! I was still feeling good and starting to focus on reeling in the people in front of me.
Miles 10-12: (7:54) (8:34) (8:37) elevation: (gained 0) (lost 866)
Just as I hit mile 10 I got a side stitch. It was on my right side and I immediately grabbed a hold of it and pinched my side. I did a breathing check, and focused on my form. Why was it at mile 10 that this happened!! I started to get frustrated and then decided I would push through it! Which translated into my fastest mile. haha! It didn’t let up and so my pace slowed a bit due to me stopping for a brief second to stretch it out a tad. This helped. At mile 12 there was an aid station so I grabbed water and walked as I drank it to try and get rid of the stitch. It never went away. I started to wonder if it was just do to the fact that A. I hadn’t run more than 8.61 miles in training or B. I wasn’t used to the elevation loss? Either way I kept pushing.
Mile 13.1: (9:05) (1:43) elevation: (gained 9) (lost 56)
This section really flattened out. It was mostly rolling hills but what really hit me was the sun! We had been having a nice breeze and shade while coming down the mountain. Now we were on the streets of Chatsworth with full sun up above us! The only thing that kept me going was know Dare was waiting for me a half mile from the finish!! Running through town I thanked all of the police officers out controlling traffic and looked for Dare! As soon as I saw him I smiled! He never fails. He always comes to get me! 🙂 He jumped out into the road to run along side me for the last bit. While running I asked him if he won the 5k…HE DID!!!
I gave him a high 5 and even the people running behind us congratulated him! He told me he ran a 19:35 5k but the course had been long so they showed him at 20:02. The details!
Also while he was running with me a spectator said to him “are you going to win this one too?” We both laughed!
Anyway there was a guy running right in front of me so I made it my goal to pass him before I finished which I did!
I crossed the line at 1:56:24 (13.21) for a 6 minute PR, 7th in my AG, 446 ft of gain, 2557 ft of loss and my IRun4 Family there waiting!!! It was seriously these BEST!
Kevin came over and gave me a hug, Dare met me and told me good job and then I grabbed a drink. I talked to them and my irun4 family while we watched others finish!
You would think running downhill would be easy. It is not. This race was by far one of the hardest I have run. This may be to my slacker training I did or the different climate but I know that the downhill was fierce. My legs are still feeling a little tight. I know I could have done much more to train for this but I didn’t really know what to expect. Now that I do I would be able to prepare much more effectively. haha!!
Although I did PR, I kind of feel like it was cheating. Do I still think I could have PR’d while on a flatter course? Absolutely. I know so. I only need to maintain a 9:18 average to beat my old PR and I don’t doubt for even a second that I could do that. The whole time I was running this race I didn’t feel as if I were really pushing hard (I did not look at my Garmin except at mile splits). Even the last mile I was just enjoying it. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t tough on me. My body got pretty beat up but that was expected. I am proud of what I did. And looking forward to the next race I get into!!!