Monday, November 23, 2015

USA Half Marathon Invitational Race Recap

Saturday morning was the USA Half Marathon Invitational.

Flat Carlee included: Brooks Pure Connect 2 (with yellow reflective Shwings),
a tank top from Run With Perseverance (was just plain black burnout that I
added USA iron-ons onto), a blue and red Sparkle Athletic skirt (I just layered
them by rolling up the top one a couple times), Pro Compression socks,
Patriotic Sparkly Soul headbandGarmin Forerunner 220RoadID,
camo Handful bra, and Garmin vívofit2.

If you haven’t heard of it before, it is the first half marathon that you have to have a qualifying time for. I thought I remembered them saying something during the advertising about being the Boston of half marathons…

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As with most races, there was an EARLY wake up call. This one was EXTRA early because the race start time was at 6am (I think, other than runDisney races, this has been the earliest one I’ve had). I think they were probably forced to have an early start as a way to obtain permits from the city - closing down streets in Downtown is tough! With the hubby not being home (meaning A. I had to walk the pup before I left and B. I was a little nervous about having to figure out all of the logistics myself), I decided I’d probably need to be up by 3:15am so I could leave by 4:15am and be to the finish line by 5am.

I was up by 2:55am, of course...
I can NEVER sleep until my alarm(s)

As with life, I would MUCH prefer to be early somewhere than late, so I probably over estimated my time a bit. I ended up getting down to San Diego around 4:40 or so and sat in the car for a bit. Thankfully the temps were AMAZING (when I looked at the Oceanside temperatures it was only going to be in the 40s at race time, but San Diego was much more tropical at a lovely 55*).

Perfect running weather (although it did
warm up a bit quickly once the sun started
to make an appearance)

The start and finish were not at the same spot, but were only about a mile or two away from each other so I decided to park at the finish and walk to the starting line. (I always prefer to be able to make a quick escape after the race {especially because you are never sure how it will go or how you will feel} instead of parking by the starting line and having to either hike or take a shuttle back to your car.)

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Let me start off by saying the race was a little less frills than I was expecting. I know it was the inaugural year and things will only get better from here, but I guess I was expecting a little more from a race that was trying to compare itself to the Boston Marathon. For example, when I was meandering around (because there were no signs or direction of any type) before the race, I came across the pre-race water… You know, some race will have water out for the athletes before the race. Well, there was water… But just jugs of it… Not sure if they were expecting folks to just pour it in their mouths or bring a cup with them for the entirety of the race (since they did not offer gear check), but it was a little strange.

Pre-race "water station"

The marquee on the Concourse

Seeing as I arrived early, I hit up the port-o-potties before there was too long of a line. There were a decent amount of them, but even by the time I got out the lines were getting pretty long. I saw Robert in line (normally we see each other at runDisney races but it seems like I’ve been seeing him at more and more of the local races - YAY for friendly faces!). We missed grabbing a picture together - next time!

Starting line selfie

I knew some friends were running the race, so I was glad when I saw a text come through from sweet Megan that she was near the starting line. I made my way over to her and we chatted for about 20 minutes before they started sending us to our “corrals” (there were no corrals but were pacers so at least we had a rough idea of where we should line up). Of course we had to get a couple pictures together, even if taking selfies in the dark never turn out great.

Sparkly Soul SISTAS!

Obviously we both had to bust out some Sparkle Athletic skirts
and PRO Compression socks for this patriotic race ;)

If you have read my last few posts then you know my calf had been acting up since finishing the REVEL Canyon City Marathon (two weeks prior). Thankfully by Thursday it was feeling back to normal. I wasn’t sure if I was going to 'race' race this one or just take it easy, especially since I hadn’t tried to run “fast” since that race. Well, race morning came and the legs were feeling okay so I devised a plan. I’d try and stick with the 1:45 pacer until about mile 10, then, if I was feeling good, I would try to pick it up for the last 5K and see about getting a new PR (my current personal record for the half marathon is 1:44:42 from last year’s Holiday Half). I decided if the leg started giving me problems or it just wasn’t my race that I would turn it into a picture day and just stop along the way.

The sun was starting to rise in the distance and we were ready to run!

As with most races with pacers, there tends to be a large gathering around them. I didn’t want to have to fight for running space, so I decided I’d drop back a bit and just try to get into a rhythm - thinking as long as I could see her I was probably fine. Well, spoiler alert, I never caught back up to her.

The course was a bit hillier and tougher than I was expecting. Although, like I said to the runners near me, I would MUCH prefer the hills to come in the first half of the race than the second, so, for that, I was thankful. Even outside of the major “climb” there were still quite a few overpasses, bridges and on-ramps that we were fighting gravity on (and even portions that were on loose gravel).

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Like I said, there were some HILLS on this one!

There are only so many courses around San Diego, so I felt like most portions of the race I had run before, but not that specific route. It was fun to run and think “Oh, I ran this portion during the San Diego Half but in the opposite direction” or “This was the finish area for the Women’s Running Half”.

Around mile 6.5 we got quite the surprise - Meb was out on the course offering high-fives and cheering on the runners. The running community is so freaking cool. I mean, how amazing is it that a Boston Marathon WINNER would be out on an off Saturday cheering US on?! San Diego really IS America’s Finest City. (PS He lives in San Diego and runs locally often. He is so gracious to runners he comes across - always willing to snap a picture or offer words of encouragement. HE ROCKS MY SOCKS!) I am slightly bummed I didn’t get a picture with him since I was focusing on my time, but a high-five was good enough.

I guess this is my "I'm serious about my time" face

I am happy to report that my calf had ZERO pain the entire way - HOORAY! With that being said, I could feel my legs were starting to get heavy around mile 7 or 8. Nothing painful, but I could definitely tell this was my fourth race in three weekends. Sometimes it seems like you are sludging your way through peanut butter and that was how my legs were feeling.

Not exactly the splits I was hoping for,
but I still give it two thumbs up!

At one of the turn-arounds towards the end of the race I saw Jessica (who is absolutely crazy in the best possible way) and I knew I had to kick it in. We joked afterwards about it. She said she saw me and tried to catch up. I told her I saw her and didn't want her to beat me. Her boyfriend laughed and said that at least we keep each other competitive.

Jessica is a ROCKSTAR who runs more races in one month
than I do in a full year!

I was able to finish with a 1:46:43. Not the PR I was hoping for, but after all of the miles I have put on my legs in the past few months (not to mention that fact that I was technically training for a PR/BQ at REVEL, not a fast half marathon time) I will consider it a very successful effort.

I was pretty proud of myself with this picture. We have a giant American flag
in our garage so I snapped a watch shot once I got back home.

After I crossed the finish line I ran into Kristin (she passed me on the course because she was in the potty when the race started and had to play catch up) - SHE’S THE BEST!


FLYING to the FINISH!

And since I had a starting line selfie, here's the finish line one!

We love to fly our freak flags HIGH!
Thanks for the picture Kristin!

I also saw fellow Los Angeles Marathon ambassador Tim (who has been in a walking boot because of his PT and STILL rocked the race with a 1:36 something!).

Source: TimChristoni's Instagram

After taking a couple pictures, Kristin and I made our way to the post-race snacks - yum! It was a little difficult to grab everything because A. there was so much, but B. we weren’t given any type of bags. As we were going through the goody line, some of the volunteers were taking away empty boxes and we were both offered one to put our goodies in - YES PLEASE!

Some of the goodies in my mini box!

Once we were fully stocked, we saw the guys from High Performance Movement. I have done a couple of their races (last year’s PB5K Beachfest and the Santa Mile with Walt) so recognized Pete as soon as he walked up. It was great to chat with them about the course, as well as hear about all of their upcoming races.

SourceHP Movement's Instagram

I noticed the time and realized I should probably skedaddle home so I could let the pup out and pack for Hawaii before I had to work so gave Kristin a hug and made my way to the car - which, luckily for me, was only about 2 blocks away and FREE!

It's HUGE, HEAVY and 'MERICA-TASTIC!

One of the perks from the race was instead of a participant’s tee, we received finisher jackets. I was really stoked about it, until I got it… They are unisex sized black track jackets (meaning I am swimming in the XS) and the graphic is just screen printed on it. Well, it ended up in my pile of race gear that I will use for my next Project Repat quilt

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I forgot to take a picture before I left for Hawaii, so this is just a standard
picture from the website. When I get back, as long as I remember, I will swap
it out for a picture I take of mine

Folks have asked me if this is a “must-do” race… Eh, I wish I could say it was, but I think my return would depend on the cost (which, to be honest, I don’t remember how much I paid, but did try to sign up early to get the best deal). Like I mentioned, it was pretty low frills (there were 6 or so aid stations on the course, but many of them did not have enough volunteers to hand out the drinks) and the jacket isn’t cool enough (at least in my opinion) to warrant trying to keep legacy status. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing necessarily bad about the race, but I guess I went in with higher expectations (even though this was their first year) based on their marketing. I am sure the race will only get better, but there was nothing that stood out to me telling me I MUST return. (Although, let's be honest, free race photos are a BIG perk I truly appreciate!)

Thumbs up for another successful run!

PS Here is a link to the Runner's World article about the race (pretty cool that it made the site): http://www.runnersworld.com/races/qualifier-only-half-marathon-draws-2400-runners-to-inaugural-event

Do you give inaugural races grace or expect them to have everything figured out the first go-around?

2 comments:

Stephanie Consiglio said...

How do you know if the races have pacers? That's cool that you had someone that you work toward or keep you in a mental check. Hopefully this race will grow because it looked cool.

Megan Johnston said...

Loved getting to hang out with your cool self before the race! A perfectly stated recap... <3