I felt inspired, after a trip to Domenico’s in Alameda, CA to stave off death from extreme hunger and then a very long nap plus a couple of World Cup games, to write a race report.
First things first… I got a PR yay! 2:07.30, approximately 12-13 minutes better than I did in my first (and only, before today) half marathon. Pushed hard to make it before the 2:10 pacer group. Pretty happy with the result, considering my ongoing ankle issues. I definitely am feeling the effects of favoring my left leg today, though.
Fun highlights and quick synopsis: Felt great and relaxed through the first 8 miles or so. Traded places with a couple of men and women, resolved to finish in front of a couple of them who looked like they had particularly good stamina. Ended up finishing before 90% of that group of people I identified.
I tweaked the same ankle on which I have that bone bruise/possible stress fracture issue with about 3.1 miles to go. I’d just passed the 10 mile marker, and was not feeling very strong. I reacted to a woman ringing a cowbell from her backyard, and lost my concentration briefly and tweaked it off the side of the paved dirt path. I thought that would be the end of any good time I’d built up thus far.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. The odd-feeling pain of hyperextending took about half a mile to somewhat subside, although I did have to consciously favor the left leg a big more the rest of the way.
There was this Asian woman running ahead and then eventually behind me most of the time with a very loud GPS that would spit out stats every half mile (she was one of the people I had chosen to pass, hopefully). Ultimately, as she started to fade, she became more of a marker approx 10 seconds ahead of where the 2:10 pacers were. At some point, she dropped even further, and I could no longer rely on her gps contraption to keep me safe from the looming 2:10 sign. With around 2 miles left, I decided to start my push. I probably shaved my pace to somewhere around 8:30, 8:45, placing my target on this guy up ahead: “If I get to where he is relative to the pacers, I will be good to go.”
Half a mile later, my left foot started feeling the added pressure, my biceps and triceps were screaming at me (this never happens, btw), and my lungs were not okay with this stressful pace after having propelled me through 11 miles. But the key to today was just… not letting myself walk. I knew that with my unknown ankle condition, my increasingly angry left foot, and everything else, that letting myself walk would be a slippery slope to losing my sub 2:10, and who knows, it could’ve gotten worse. 2 miles is a long way.
With about a mile left, the Asian lady again came out of nowhere to challenge me! I hadn’t heard her gps for a while, and there she was, high turnover feet pattering and passing me on the right. Oh hell no. She again became my benchmark, even though the pacers had been dropped to probably 30+ seconds back both of us at this point. I decided to renew my push. She WAS my 2:10 pacer, I decided.
I went abreast of her, then just as quickly as she reeled me in, I refused to let her. Over the last half mile stretch, I dropped her quickly, focusing on form and the rhythm of each bound (which felt more like trudge). I caught quite a few more people on my way down the last two straight stretches to the finish line… Kumi ran out of the Riveter building (he told me later) and screamed at me to go, and struggle was plainly on my face at that point. A
liar male volunteer yelled at me that I was almost there, the finish is just around the corner (it was an additional 100 yards after rounding the corner thanks very much sir), finish strong. A couple others said the same. I nodded deliriously at every mention of finishing strong. Yes. Why the heck not, I was going to PR, might was well make it the best PR I could make it.
I didn’t have quite the kick as I’ve had in the past (1 12K, 1 HM and 2 Ms), but I didn’t have a greater overall race than I did today, so I’m ok with what kick I did have left. PR yay.
Saucony Kinvara 5: more cushion for the pushin. YES I AM A CORNBALL. But really, I just got them a week or so ago, when i was sidelined due to an inflamed, possibly pre-stress fracture or mild stress fracture ankle. First time these beauties were used, and boy did they deliver. My shoes have been the A5s for the longest, but after the ankle thing I wondered if a little more support would help. yessir. Below is a pic of the pair I own – Citron/Vizi Orange/Purple.
Best compliment of the day: guy who said to me post-race, “You had great form! It gave me energy.” That’s really awesome :)
Note to self: tapering is probably really important. Yes, I tapered against my will, but maybe it’s a good thing.
Note to self 2: must do more upper body exercises, even though I already do. after running a while, i tend to bring my arms up higher (my relaxed form has my arms barely doing a pendulum near my hips) – they don’t cross my chest, but they swing more near the sides. I need to stay more relaxed somehow, loosen up my neck/shoulder/arms and get them stronger too.
Pros – nice location with a lot of parking. Packet pickup was a cinch, with a lot of options including race-day pickup (although I heard that got packet and ugly… that’s not their fault). Bib assignment was also done at whichever location you decided to show up at, and there were 3 (SF, Oakland and Corte Madera). Great race locale (who knew Richmond was that beautiful?), beautiful views, nice crisp air and breeze. Cool and comfortable throughout. Weirdly, course went through a dog park, but I don’t have a problem with that.
Cons – aid station volunteers were not trained. There weren’t enough of them, either. How do you run out of things you say every fuel station will have? Not enough signage/volunteers directing traffic. No trays upon trays of orange slices, halved bananas, gummies, water, juice, etc at the finish line. No, you had to walk all the way down that last straight, half the distance of the much longer straight before the final turn, go into the Riveter building, go UP THE STAIRS, to a weird large warehouse-looking floor that had stale half bagels, NO MORE WATER/FLUIDS by the time the middle of the pack (me + most people) finished, and some random knicks and knacks like red vines and popcorn (again, wtf?). I had to settle for that stale bagel and had to walk DOWN THE STAIRS and out to the place where Nuun set up, just to get something with water in it, even if it was weird fizzy flavor tablet water. (PS do not buy Nuun. Too hyped for no good reason – plus, anyone else been reading too many running blogs with people shilling this item/company?). I’d rather have Airborne, plus Airborne has alleged(?) extra benefits of immune support.
So… I’d give this inaugural race a 6 out of 10. I’m not that hard to please, it would’ve been a 10 out of 10 if they’d had adequate quantities of food and beverages in the ENTIRELY SUFFICIENTLY spacious location behind the finish line. But 10 out of 10 because it ended up being a good day for my running stuff.