Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day! I had wanted to get this post up days ago. But I didn’t. Blogging fail.
Almost two weeks ago I participated in the Lucky Run. It’s a St. Patty’s Day themed half marathon. As I mentioned earlier, I was co-pacing the 2:15 group and didn’t exactly train for the race. Not only had I not run more than 11 miles in months (and that was broken into two runs), I had no idea what 10:18 pace felt like. This led to a bit of pre-race anxiety. Would I be able to finish the race? Would I be able to maintain an unfamiliar pace?
Race day started early. I decided to organize the Golden Valley Harriers booth (above) to give our running club some publicity and also have a place for pacers to meet/store things. I got there around 645am and with the help of two others from the club (if you are reading this, thanks!), got our tent up in no time. Then I hung out for the next hour. Other pacers started to arrive and pick up their signs, and I got to meet the person I was pacing with. The weather was perfect – sunny, high 40s, and no wind.
I got to the race start about five minutes before the race and found a spot behind the 10:00min/mile sign. I started chatting with my co-pacers, fellow GVHers, and some people who thought they might want to do 2:15. One woman was rather nervous as it was her first half marathon and we tried to give her some race advice like not going out too fast. My co-pacer had written our mile splits on his arm and I had my Garmin to check up on times. The ‘gun’ went off and I started my watch. We pace by gun and not chip time. For a smaller race like this, there is not too much of a difference.
The first few miles flew by. I mostly chatted with my co-pacer and tried to maintain correct pace. The course is rather boring (sorry ACOP) as the first seven (?) miles are along a highway so I focused more on talking (lots of fun!) and less on looking at things around me. We had a good group of about six people at this point. Everyone seemed in good spirits. It was also motivating see cars pass by and honk. No one tried to run us off the road either (ahem, Napa Ragnar).
I made sure to stop at every water stop as I was not carrying water. From past half marathons I’ve learned that I have to drink or else I get super dehydrated.
Somewhere between mile six and seven we lost one of the runners in our group to a side stitch. This was sad because after an hour of running, I’d grown a bit attached to the runners in our group. As it was her first half I was hoping that she’d stay strong the whole way. I knew she would not be able to catch back up to us so I ran back and explained that I could not stay with her, but wished her luck. A group of guys made some snarky comments that I was trying to show off (because I was running backward on the course). I will not comment on this.
After we left the freeway, the course wound around North Davis greenbelt and surrounding neighborhoods. While I love running on the greenbelt, I kind of wanted to cut through the neighborhoods and be done with the race. I’m not a big fan on looping back near paths I’ve already been on. The upside of this is that I could see a lot of other pacers at different points in the course and had fun cheering for them. We also still had a good group of people with us so it made the time pass more quickly. Around this time we also started discussing sweeping the course, running back from the finish to find people we’d dropped along the way.
Too often I fall apart during the last mile of a race. I’ve been known to watch and / or tell people I’m running with that I’m dying. Maybe because of the slower pace or because I felt that I had to stay strong for those around me I did not have the desire to walk and felt relatively cheery despite tired legs. A friend and fellow GVHer / unofficial club photographer was on the course around mile 12 to document the race. It was nice to see a familiar face when close to the end of the race. Oh look, I’m still running.
Love my socks. Next year I will get a tutu to match.
The last mile went by quickly. Yet another friend was cheering near the finishing shoot. Wow, I have amazing friends. We crossed the finish line a bit before 2:15. The official race stats were:
From my Garmin (not including 0.7 mile cool-down/course sweeping):
I might left my watch running as I snacked on a banana at the GVH tent before heading out on the course again. I ran back about 4/10ths of a mile from the finish and spotted the first-time half marathoner. She was clearly struggling and crying a bit. I held her hand and tried to encourage her (not my forte) up until the finish. I am super proud that she made it, but sad that it was a struggle. Her family took photos of us. I’m not going to post them because I did not track her down to ask her permission. But I am happy that I went back to find her.
How did the pacing go? From a time standpoint, we were about 15 seconds off goal time. As an aside, this might not seem like much, but it was nowhere close to the excellent timing of a lot of the other pacers. The mile splits tell an “interesting” story. Here are the stats for the first 8 miles.
Yikes, we were kind of all over the place. The 7 mile split is a bit misleading because that is when I ran back on the course to check in on the woman we lost. But the other spits are pretty spot-on. We managed to slow down a bit over the last five miles to get closer to our goal time. But I think if I were a runner, I would be a bit cranky with the 10 min miles thrown in there. Lucky for us, no one voiced this opinion.
Thoughts from the race.
#1 It is really hard to maintain 10:18. As soon as I stopped looking at my watch I naturally picked up the pace. I feel that I spent the entire race trying to hold back. I’m sure with experience (and practice!) this will become easier. I definitely want to try to pace 2:15 again to see if I can improve on this.
#2 Pacing is a lot of fun! I had a great time chatting with my co-pacer and hearing inspirational stories of runners we met on the course. A family member of a runner was going to steal milk because they were starving and then kind person bought them all their groceries that day. A woman PR’d and another finished their first half. Amazing.
#3 Next time I’ll train better for half marathon. I felt fine during the race, but could do without being sore the next day.
With that in mind, I’m officially in triathlon training mode and did my first brick last Sunday (more on this in a upcoming post, I hope).