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Valley Crest Half Marathon

June 21, 2010

Hot and hilly. Those are the two words that describes this race for me. It was also my first trail half marathon too! I did the training run a couple weeks before where we ran the course, but stopped 3 miles shy of 13. I’m really glad I did the training run because I knew to expect lots of gradual climbs and hills. Did I mention, I also wore my new trail shoes? Not sure why I chose to wear them the day of the race, but I did and it felt great. So much better than regular running shoes. So, I have a confession to make. The week prior to this race, I actually logged the least mileage ever in a week since…I don’t know, over a year? 12 miles (6 from the Mud Run and 6 on a speed workout). I was a little apprehensive of really pushing myself too hard on this race, afraid to irritate the nerve again. I haven’t been running on pavement in a while, only treadmill and trails. It seems as if those are my only options right now without the nerve pain starting up again.

The race started at 8AM, which is pretty late me thinks. It was in Tarzana on the historic Mulholland fire road. The sun was already up and it was getting hot out. Since the course is pretty much an out and back, it was nice to see so many friends out and spot them along the way. Our first 0.10 mile was heading up a steep incline which was lovely. Then the next 3.5 miles were flat and gradual downhill. For the first time in a long time, I was actually enjoying myself. Maybe it has to do with not running so much during the week? My legs felt great, but again, I didn’t want to push myself too hard. I knew at the turn-around, we would have to climb up the hill. My friend, Matt, jumped in at Mile 3.5 to pace me the rest of the race with a Camelbak loaded with vodka. Just kidding, but he was loaded with water, Gatorade and shot bloks for me which was really nice. I was going at a pretty good pace and started to book it going uphill. Matt pointed out a girl in all pink who was keeping a steady pace and told me to stay with her. I knew the uphills were going to slow down my speed, but having this moving target in front of me helped keep me motivated. I ended up passing her and quickly found a new target to stay behind.

At Mile 7, we started a steep descent where I believe we average 7:26 pace for that mile. Still feeling really good having passed a lot of people, I felt I had a fair chance at placing in my age group. Of course, right when I was thinking that, the brutal uphill climb came. It was probably the longest 2 miles ever. The uphill just wouldn’t stop or at least even out. My pace dropped considerably, my feet were hot, I was dehydrated..and I could go on about how bad I felt those 2 miles. Since we didn’t go all the way during the training run, I had no idea how much further we had to go and it seemed as if I would never see the aid station and turn-around point. I kept trucking along and if it wasn’t for Matt, I probably would have walked most of it. We finally reached the aid station where I doused myself with water and slammed down 4 cups before heading back. Going back the last 3 miles felt so much better and I settled into a comfortable pace. Of course, what comes up must come down and the 7:26 mile split going downhill came all too quickly. 1 mile left and I just kept my head down and put one foot in front of the other. A lot of people that I had passed before ended up passing me on the uphill, including the girl in the pink. I wasn’t expecting to place anymore and just wanted to finish strong. I crossed the finish line at 1:56 which was so surprising given how I haven’t really ‘trained’ for this race and the hilly course. I was actually fine with finishing over 2 hours, but hey I’ll take it! Loved the little expo they had on the grass where they served ice cold watermelon slices and oranges. We waited around for the awards ceremony just for shits and giggles, not really expecting to place or anything. The first male came in at 1:11 which is insane. A lot of people can’t even run that time on a completely flat pavement course. I actually saw the first guy running in the opposite direction the last 2 miles of the race. Apparently, he needed a little uphill climb cool-down.  I believe he set a new record for this race. The women came in at 1:20 and also set the record. Absolutely amazing times given the tough course and heat. When they finally announced my age group, I was shocked that I had gotten 3rd place, a minute behind the 2nd place girl.

So now I am rethinking my training for San Francisco Marathon, or lack of training thereof. I’m not really following a set training schedule, and frankly I’m okay with that. I usually take the summer off from long distance training and I’m only running this race, well, because I want the big medal dammit. I’m obviously not going to set any PRs, but my only concern is exacerbating the injury that isn’t completely healed. The only “long run” I have scheduled is a hilly 21-miler this weekend. All runs will be less than 13 miles. I’m just praying the injury doesn’t resurface during this training run because it’s a pretty good predicament on how I will feel race day. Once this leg heals, I am looking forward to really training hard for St. George in October. I would love love LOVE to break a 3:30 and I have a good training plan for it. Lots of track workouts and tempo runs, fun! Training isn’t easy and when I hopped on my treadmill last week for my first speed workout in a long time, the first interval was so so hard. I did 3×1600 at 7:02 pace and I thought my lungs were going to burst. But, rest assured, that the first interval is always the hardest. I did a 1 minute break in between sets, where I hopped off the treadmill to catch my breath. The last 2 intervals were a lot easier, trust me. You have to put in the work if you want to see results. A PR doesn’t come easy and speed definitely won’t come unless you work for it. I can’t say track workouts are fun, in fact, I really dread them, but I know they work and they produce results. Just keep your fitness goal in mind and it will come soon enough. Next up: SAN FRANCISCO!

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 25, 2010 10:47 am

    Good for you! That’s a motivational blog post and I definitely dig it. Look forward to reading about your marathon feat. Good luck!

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