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City of Angels Half Marathon- 12/7

December 10, 2008

I’ve been looking forward to this date for a while now and a lot of people ask me why I even signed up, it’s only 13 miles and I have already done plenty of 13+ mile runs before, but racing is a completely different experience than training runs. I realized during races, you push yourself so much harder and it is just plain exciting to be running with a group of 6,000 people or more. Of course, you also get free stuff and a nice memorabilia.

I ran this race with Jose again (my running partner in crime), slept in 2 hour increments the night before either because I was nervous or really excited, I think it was the nerves of falling short. The race was a point to point 13.1 miles starting from the L.A Zoo/Griffith Park to the Civic Center in Downtown LA. Beautiful course, and I was really excited to see a part of LA I rarely venture into. The day didn’t start off too hot, as we had to board a shuttle since there was no parking at the start so everyone had to park at the finish and the last shuttle left at 6:30 am when the race didn’t start until 7:30. Of course, you can’t bring bags with you, which meant freezing in my tank top and shorts at 6 in the morning, I didn’t want to regret wearing a long sleeve come mile 2 when I’m sweating bullets. A lot of people just wear old clothes and throw them away on the course, but I would rather keep my clothes thank you. Finally the shuttle arrived at the LA zoo where we had 30 minutes to get our bib (they didn’t have bib distribution the day before like most races). Of course, there were thousands of people waiting to get their bib as well. It was so chaotic and stressful, that I was still in line 5 minutes before the race started! Thankfully, I got my bib on time and ran to the starting line, quickly attached the race chip to my shoe (note to self: read the directions on the race chip, because my “official” time got lost due to stupidity on my part)

The course started off and what a difference a half marathon was to the other 10K races, people were not sprinting off! I was relieved because I was able to keep myself at a good pace in the beginning. The first time I saw a mile marker was mile 4, we were just coming out of Griffith Park! i was pretty excited since I was feeling good and knew it was only 9 more miles to go from there. The bike path was great since it relieved some pressure on my legs running on concrete. However, the course was entirely HILLS after HILLS after HILLS. I mentally prepared myself because a fellow Legger told me the week before that there were going to be 3 major hills, but after 30 minutes of running, I had already passed more than 3 hills! The course took us through Silverlake and over the Hyperion Bridge. I think this bridge was the worst, it was a pure uphill climb for 10 minutes or so and I kept counting the seconds until my legs would let up and it would be flat again. Of course, it wasn’t over yet. I remembered to take my Shot Bloks around mile 7, but missed the water station to take it so I had to wait another 1.5 mile until I could take it and wash it down with water. I feel pretty bad for the volunteers handing out water because most runners don’t slow down to grab water, they race through the station half spilling the water on the volunteers. Yes, I am one of those people so I apologize, but I know how it feels because I have volunteered at many races before. The middle part of the race was pretty scenic, but the last long hill was on Sunset around mile 10. I remember seeing the hill, and after 5 minutes I made the worst mistake and looked up and saw a long way to go. The only thought running through my head was “oh sh*t”. I looked at the ground and made my way up, trying to ignore the pain in my lower back and kept repeating to myself “this is why you train Monday-Sunday, for a day like this where you can prove to yourself that you finally did it”. That seemed to keep me going and soon enough, I was running at my regular pace again.

I think the most memorable mile was seeing the 12 mile mark. My heart literally felt like it was about to come out of my chest because I was so excited that I had made it. The last mile was through a tunnel and everyone started sprinting. I knew from my friend who had ran the course last year that the finish line was right outside the tunnel. Something about finishing a half marathon really got to me during that last mile. I started to tear up and almost had an asthma attack because I was sprinting so hard and couldn’t breathe. I kept thinking about all the runs I did leading up to this race and how sometimes, you have to sacrifice a little (or a lot) to achieve this feeling of crossing the finish line. Sometimes, your body doesn’t want to run, but you know you have to in order to get better. Running is all about overcoming that mental barrier and pushing yourself to go that 26.2 miles, whether your body wants to or not, because the end satisfaction will make it all worth it. Coming out of the tunnel, I saw the finish line .20 mile away and I heard everyone cheering and yelling. I looked at the clock as I was passing through the finish line and was shocked to see 1:45! I had no expectations coming into this race because I had run a 20 miler the day before and all the hills were for sure going to slow me down. This was definitely a great race for me and I felt amazing the whole way through. I saw some Leggers at the finish line and we all high fived each other and talked excitedly about our experience in the race. I would do this race next year in a heartbeat, and it only made me that much more excited for the marathon in a month. I can only imagine what mile 25 will feel like.

I got my race results in yesterday and I finished in 10th place out of the 60 people in my age group. If I can go at this same pace for the full marathon, I will be able to make it to Boston with 10 minutes to spare. It is still tough because keeping a 8:00 pace for the full 26 miles will be challenging, and most likely I will take a couple walking breaks so I need to factor that into my time. But Surf City is completely flat, I will just have to see how I do when the time comes. This was a great race, and made me appreciate LA a lot more for its scenic views.

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