USA Half Marathon Race Report

It was a fun and quick trip to San Diego for half marathon #5 (#3 post pregnancy) the USA Half Marathon Invitational.

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This race was the first half marathon that you had to have a qualifying time for, although the standards were not nearly as tough as Boston. The race director for Boston was one of the organizers of this race, so I thought it would for sure be a well organized, fun race. I was not disappointed

When Friday morning rolled around the usual scramble was on to get all our stuff packed and ready to go.

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We made it out the door around 9:00am (later than planned) and in our haste forgot our phone chargers and the iPad. Yikes! No Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to entertain the boys on the 4 hour drive. Someone please tell me what parents did to keep kids quiet on road trips before all this technology was available?? 🙂

It was pretty smooth sailing (with the exception of the usual 405 backup in LA) down to SD. We arrived around 2pm and stopped by the expo to pick up my race bib first.

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I was expecting it to be bigger, but we got right in and out, then headed to the hotel a few block away to check-in.

We met up with my mom and Papa John (that’s what we all her longtime boyfriend) for my traditional pre-race pasta dinner, then took the boys down the street to Chuck E. Cheese for the first time. What a mad house! The boys loved it though and were not happy when it was time to leave.

Back at the hotel I prepared all my race day essentials: Lululemon Speed Shorts, Nuun Energy for hydration, Garmin Vivoactive, Momentum Motivate Wrap, CEP Compression Socks. Then it was lights off at 8pm.

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With a race start of 6:00 am, it was extra nice that the start line was just a few blocks from the hotel we were staying at, the Westin Gaslamp.

I headed out at 5:40 am careful not to wake any of the boys (K included). It was a quick 5 minute walk, so I had plenty of time to warm-up and stretch before the gun went off.

Everyone was supposed to get into the corral marked with their estimated finish time. There were no real “corrals” so I squeezed in with the group near the 1:45 pacer. Unrealistic (I knew that) but there is power in wishful thinking right? It’s a goal I’m (hopefully) not too far off from achieving, plus it didn’t seem like anyone was really too concerned about being in the correct corral (except of course the super speedy at the very front). There were a modest amount of runners… around 2,500.

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With Adele’s “Hello” blaring through my earbuds I crossed the start line just a couple minutes after 6.

The first mile was easy peasy. Mile 2. Bam! Hit with a monster hill. Actually I was happy that most of the hills on this course were early on in the race. I always go out too fast. Having a few hills to contend with helped to keep my pace in check, and there were plenty of hills on this course.

My splits for the first four hilly miles:

1 – 8:00 (too fast) my watch was acting up so I was running by feel and adrenaline, but I set a new 400m PR!

2 – 9:15

3 – 9:04

4 – 8:59

I checked the elevation map before the race so knew the course would be flattening out soon which helped me mentally get through those tough hills.

I felt really strong the next four miles so picked up the pace. Splits:

5 – 8:32

6- 8:24

7 – 8:25

8 – 8:58

At around the 10k point I noticed Meb Keflezighi was on the sidelines giving runners in front of me high-fives so I scooted over to get one too — definitely the highlight of the day!

Around mile 9 my engine started to falter, but was determined to finish strong. I was gunning for a PR, so told myself to keep pushing.

Splits to the end:

9 – 9:25

10 – 9:22

11 – 9:08

12 – 9:34

13 – 9:46 (this last mile was a real struggle. I had to stop and walk to regroup)

.2 – 9.13  (the course was .1 mile extra, according to my Garmin anyway).

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My official finish time was 1:59:29. Not the PR I was hoping for, but I ran strong and felt like I gave it my all, so I was happy with that.

All three of my half’s this year were 1:59 something. Not sure why the speed work I’ve been incorporating in my training didn’t reflect in my times for these last couple races.Food for thought.

I spotted my mom and grandma immediately, handed them my phone and collapsed to the ground. Okay maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but I did sit down for a good 10 minutes before making my way out of the finishers shoot to find my family.

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I’ve decided my body deserves a little off-season rest from serious training before ramping it up again in January for my triathlon in March and full marathon in May.

I’m going to try to just enjoy my runs  without too much emphasis on pace and focus on building strength for the next few weeks.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Gobble! Gobble!

XOXO

Christina

Mitja Marato Sabadell 14k Race Report

This weekend I ran my first international race in the city of Sabadell, Spain just north of Barcelona.  I had no specific goal for this race other than being present and enjoying the experience.

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The race featured three distances: a mitja marato (half marathon) 14k and 7k. There were over 2,000 participants total between the three distances. I chose the 14k because it’s a race distance I had never run before and K (who was watching the boys) had a business meeting to get to after, so unless I planned to run a blistering fast half, he wouldn’t make it on time. More on my amazingly supportive husband without whom my racing would not be possible in a future post.

The race started at 9:00am and was about a 20 minute cab ride from our hotel in Barcelona. I set the alarm for 7:30am figuring that would give me enough time to get ready without disturbing the twins too much. After this race I have come to accept that 30 minutes to get ready with 2 toddlers is not going to cut it anymore. After feeding, changing and dressing them we were in the cab and on our way at 8:15am.

I grabbed a piece of pretzel bread from the hotel breakfast buffet on our way out and ate it during the cab ride to the race. My go to pre-race meal is always a banana and peanut butter, but the hotel did not have any (maybe these are not so popular in Spain). I knew I had to eat something or run the risk of hitting a wall since I had also neglected to pack my energy gels and chews.

Our cab driver didn’t seem to know the area of Sabadell were the race start was located. He dropped us off on a corner where the road was blocked and a police officer was directing traffic. We saw runners with bibs so figured we were close enough to the start location.  It turned out to be a 2 mile walk to the start line.

It was only 5 minutes to race start when we arrived and I still had to get my race bib from registration. There was a long line of people waiting to get their bibs so I thought I would for sure be late to start. The organizers started yelling something out in Spanish. I wish the two years of Spanish I took in high school had stuck, but sadly I didn’t understand a word. I saw them handing out race numbers and jotting down names on a piece of paper, so quickly collected one (#3541), gave all my boys a kiss and ran to the start line.

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I was in the back of the pack which normally I hate, but didn’t mind because I was not in my typical racing mode.  I decided to run this one without headphones on (a rare thing for me if they are allowed on the course) and focused on being totally in the moment.

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The 14k route consisted of 2 loops. The first loop was really crowded and by mile 3 the streets got very narrow which made passing pretty difficult, but I managed to pass a lot. I wasn’t running for a specific goal time, but it was still a race and I love passing people!

By loop two the crowd had totally thinned out. I think about 1,500 of the 2,000 runners did only the first loop (the 7k race). The second loop around was mentally challenging. The energy of the previous crowd of runners was gone and I had already seen the sights during loop one so there was nothing new and unexpected to see.

I was losing my mojo fast, posting positive splits and desperately wished I had a gel or music to pump me up. I managed to power through to the end with the help of some much needed cheers and encouragements from local spectators and finished with a time of 1:19:11.

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I placed 13 out of 47 total women who ran the 14k which I was happy with. For some reason unknown to me I did not appear in the official results posted on the race website. I suspect it had something to do with my name not being recorded with the mass handout of bibs prior to the race.

After crossing the finish line and collecting the bag they were handing out, I was so happy to find K and the boys right away. There was no time to hang out for the post-race festivities. K took a couple quick photos, then we trekked a bit to find a cab and back to Barcelona we went.

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The rest of the day was spent being tourists around Barcelona and a lovely bike tour on the beach. Keep your eye out for a post about the trip and traveling with babies.

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This race was a great experience and I can’t wait to add more international races to my bucket list soon. I have my eye on the Stockholm Half Marathon or Copenhagen Half Marathon for my 2016 schedule since we plan on traveling to Denmark and Sweden this time next year.

Up next though are two half marathons much closer to home, Santa Barbara Marathon & Half on November 7th and US Half Marathon San Diego Invitational two weeks later.

Happy racing!

XO

Christina