Back in November when I ran the US Half Marathon in San Francisco, and ended up with a time way off my expected and normal running pace due to some GI issues that landed me in bed for 72 hours straight of pure misery, I decided I was going to redeem myself at the US Other Half on the same course on April 8.
The small minor detail that had slipped my mind as I pressed the ‘register’ button on Active? Oh yeah, that I had already registered for my second annual Santa Cruz Half on April 1 (the one I PRed at in 2011).
Commence my personal B2B Half Mary Challenge.
My training (if you can call it that) was lackluster as the winter quarter was really stressful for me at school (you could tell by my serious lack of posting) and then I left for a week on the slopes with my family, right before the Santa Cruz Half. Talk about how not to take it easy during ‘taper week.’ I instead decided to kill my quads and calves in every way possible.
Evenso, I approached April 1 with two goals in mind: sub-2 hours (at the very least) and (preferably) a PR (meaning <1:53). I also had another side goal: help pace my friend Maggie to a sub 2-hour half for her first race.
Race day came, and we were ready.
Maggie, her bro and I at the start (not in that order…)
I love the start of this race: could you start somewhere more picturesque? I think not…
Maggie and I started off a little faster than I would’ve liked (~8:00/mile pace), but I got her to scale back to an 8:15-8:30 pace for the first 8 miles. She’s a speed demon and probably could’ve rocked it, but I wanted to make sure she stayed conservative and didn’t burn out at the end.
(I spy a girl with a black shirt, orange shirt and black compression socks…)
After the 8 mile point, I realized that my running shoes were absolutely shot, as my ankles and knees started killing. Like killing to the point where running was painful. It was in those moments that I told Maggie to run her race, that she had the sub-2 hour in the bag as long as she stayed ahead of me (no matter what her pace), and I took it into my own hands to attempt the sub-2 myself.
I was in pain. A lot of pain, but I didn’t want to see the 2:xx mark again. So, I started run/walking (I was running in the above photo just for my parents…hey, gotta make em proud no matter what ), and am happy to say that I made it in in 1:57:27. No record breaking here — but still, sub-2.
Oh, and btw, Maggie killed it: 1:51:27 and her brother made it in sub-2 as well! Way to go — awesome first half marathons!!!!
Though my race wasn’t the best, it also wasn’t my worst. And I have to say, I mentally battled the entire race: partly because I was afraid I had undertrained, and party because I was frustrated at how crowded the paths were.
Short race review:
IMHO the Santa Cruz Half Mary has gotten a liiiiitle too big. The bike path into Wilder and the paths along the coastal bluffs just aren’t made for that many people. It was extremely frustrating trying to run around people. I love the race, I love that its local, but I hated the crowds. They need to downsize…or have corrals/pacing markers for people to line up by.
Regardless, still love the scenery — its a gorgeous course. Hard to beat, that’s for sure!
So I can’t complain too much. But, if the race gets any bigger next year? I’m gonna have to pass…
Anyway, with the 1:57:27 in my back pocket, I was happy, but I wasn’t done with my PR pursuit. I knew that it would be rough to do it just a week later at the US Other Half in SF. Mostly because of the SF part, if we’re being completely honest: hills == death.
Stay tuned for more of the B2B Half Mary Challenge…
And while you’re waiting, some fabulous raceday photos for your viewing…
And the most un-photogenic race photos award goes to?!