Going to the well for a half marathon

You’ll have to forgive me, I haven’t written in a while because I haven’t had enough time to sit down and spell out my thoughts. I just got back from a week in Hawaii and before that I was too busy packing and tying up loose ends.

I ran the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon two Sundays ago. I set my PR there last year even though it’s a slow course (in my opinion) with a lot of up and down. It’s net downhill but most of it comes on the 163 in a couple short chunks. Last year I ran a 1:17:28 and this year after running 1:22 in La Jolla, I felt like 1:18 would be a good goal. My workouts were showing that I should be able to run 6 flat and possibly faster. In the last edition I ran mostly alone. After passing a guy on the 163 I didn’t see anyone else until the finish. This year proved to be different.

I went through the first mile in 5:50, faster than last years 5:54 and a little surprising. My first 4 miles were 5:50, 5:58, 5:52, 5:40 with #4 having a big downhill getting on the 163. I was with about 4 guys who were strung out. We did a little bit of passing back and forth, mostly because they weren’t taking the tangents and I was. I didn’t feel all that great after 4 miles. I knew I was a little tired and that’s a terrible time to question how we’ll you’ll run the next 9 miles. I wasn’t sure how long I’d last. The next two miles were a bit uphill with additional rollers, I went 6:05, 6:01. Then came the huge downhill on the 163. I hit it in 5:47 and felt like I was on wheels. I felt completely rested at the bottom of the hill, right before we took the on-ramp to the 8 West which is a 270 degree turn and completely uphill. That’s when the suffering began. At this point I was still with 3 other guys and there were lots of crowds to cheer on Friars Rd. I saw two people I knew and got a high five from one. That boost carried me a good quarter mile, it’s amazing how just hearing your name can energize you so much.

5:52, 5:59, 5:56. I was hanging on by a thread. Any mile under 6 was good news. I got convincingly passed just before mile 11 while I was on the heels of a high schooler. My goal was to hang on to the kid for as long as I possibly could. He was pulling me like gravity and I wasn’t going to leave. I noticed the suffering picked up and I looked down at my watch to see us doing 5:45, he was trying not to get passed. Those two guys were my rabbits for the last 2 miles. When we went over the 5 I told myself that was the last hill, but it wasn’t! This race is full of slight uphills, just enough to kick you when you’re hurting. In that last mile I managed to pass the high schooler and catch the previous passer. He made an encouraging comment and I told him to “kick hard”. With about a quarter mile left he went flying by me. I’m not sure of my kick that far out, so I waited and then kicked. The last tenth was an epic duel. It was caught on camera (at about :10). I was catching him, then he pulled ahead, and the next runner (who had been far ahead of us) was becoming a target. He sped up just in time to cross the finish before we passed him. I lost the duel, but it was a heck of a lot of fun. My last mile was a 5:50 and my final time was 1:17:48.

I went hard in this race. By mile 10 my hips were starting to hurt and feel like they had no cushioning. Imagine driving a car without shocks. I felt like I pushed to the edge of my current fitness and held on far beyond what I thought I was capable of. Then we had the big kick at the end. My calves were fried immediately after the race. I was limping around on Monday. I haven’t put that much hurt on myself since the Long Beach marathon in 2009. Even when I started running on Wednesday and Thursday the week after I felt like I had rocks in my legs. They just didn’t work. So I didn’t push it.

I got a good week off in Hawaii. I ran twice and it was gorgeous where I ran. Although the humidity is so high I might as well have been swimming. My clothes didn’t like to dry afterwards either. Now it’s time to get my training back in gear so I can get down to that 16 minute barrier in the 5k. I’m running the Scripps Ranch Old Pros 10k on the 4th of July and I’m hoping to string together enough training to have a decent race. My last 3 weeks have been really low mileage and little quality though. We’ll see.


About thedillyruns

In 2007 I decided to join a running group to train for a marathon. I'd never run more than 4 miles at a stretch and never raced. I grew up playing basketball. After a promising first half marathon, I grew hungry to run faster.
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