Thursday, August 9, 2018

Balboa Park 8-Miler Race Recap

Saturday was the 64th Annual Balboa Park 8-Miler. I ran this race in 2016 and when I saw I had an 8 mile pace run scheduled for race day I emailed my friends at San Diego Running Co. who manage the event, to see if there was a discount code the hubby and I could use when registering. They went above and beyond and comped us both entries!

The McDots are FINISHERS!

Two Friday’s ago (the day before I left for the San Francisco Marathon) I ran my first “pace” workout of this training cycle. {In case you don’t know what pace miles are or haven’t read my "Marathon Training Plan Unpacked" post, they are miles at your goal marathon pace - which, for me, is 7:37/mile.} I've had pace workouts on my calendar, but since I was running TSFM in Week 6 of my training cycle I opted for longer runs as opposed to speed work up to that point. With that said, I was nervous how that first run would go but surprised myself and kept an average pace of 7:20/mile for the 7 miles.

I'll be honest... I definitely surprised myself with this run!

My goal for the Balboa Park 8-Miler was to go out and try to race it. If you know me, you probably know that although I run a lot of races, I normally don't 'race' them. I love the running community and races are just an opportunity for me to connect with my tribe (not to mention, if I am "running them for fun" it takes a lot of the pressure off). Since this was supposed to be a pace run anyway, I figured why not drop the hammer and see what I could do. I knew it was a hilly course (some of it is actually on trails), but was hoping that the race environment may give me a little extra adrenaline.

My #FlatCarlee included: White and Red PRO socks (which they no longer carry), red Handful sports bra, red Sparkle Athletic skirt,
New Balance muscle tank from TJ Maxx, elite Road ID, #teamsparkle trucker (from a previous #Ragnar4Rett), black and red QALO
silicone wedding bands, black and red Momentum Jewelry wraps, Garmin Forerunner 935, and Brooks Ghost 11.

Balboa Park is about 45 minutes south of our place, so the plan was to leave our house by 5:30am so we'd have time to find a spot to park, pick up our bibs (I absolutely LOVE when races allow for race day pick-up), grab our participant tees and take them back to the car, use the port-o-potties and head to the corrals before the 7am start.

As always, I was awake before my first alarm went off...

The weather was less than ideal... but I guess we can thank Mother Nature and climate change... because although we pay a HIGH sunshine tax to live in SoCal and have perfect weather all year round, we have been dealing with quite a bit of insane humidity. (Not sure if you are like me, but I would much prefer to have 90* of dry heat than 70* of humid heat.) Even still, the game plan was to give it my all despite the conditions and see what my legs would be able to do.

This may not seem terrible, but it is definitely not ideal!

Once it was time for the runners to head to the start line the hubby and I snapped a quick picture and went to our respective estimated pace areas. (FYI - This was one of the only races that the hubby and I have both participated in but have run separately. Normally, if the hubby is willing to run, I am willing to run his pace with him, but since I had a workout for the race, I decided to run it faster and then cheer the hubby in as he made his way to the finish line.) Thankfully it seemed like most people self-seeded and lined up properly so there wasn't too much bobbing and weaving.


Ready to get this party started!

My legs may not be rested, but they are ready!

Soon enough we were counting down from 10 and pounding the pavement. (WARNING: Since I wasn't taking this race at a comfortable pace, there are zero pictures from during the actual run, but hopefully you'll stick with the recap to the end.)

I'll be honest, an 8 mile race is not a standard distance (at least not in my neck of the woods). With that said I wasn't 100% sure how to tackle my pacing {which I'm usually terrible at anyway}. I didn't want to sprint out the gate and die by mile 3, but on the other hand I knew we didn't have as much distance as a half marathon to make up time. Not to mention, I'm not sure if I'm weird, but it seems as though once I settle into a pace I have a hard time deviating too far from it, so I thought if I could set my cruising speed around 7:15/mile hopefully I'd be able to get comfortable there and stick with it.

Well, let's just say that when my watch beeped for the first mile and it was UNDER 7 MINUTES I knew it was downhill from there... I should not be running a 6:XX anything during a race (at least not during a race longer than a 5K). I tried to not let it freak me out too much while attempting to dial it back so I'd have enough gas in the tank to get to the finish line.

Thankfully I was able to get a grip and the next few miles were in a more acceptable range (7:17, 7:14, 7:17). By Mile 4, though, I was starting to feel spent. My legs were quickly reminding me that I had just run a full marathon on the hills of San Francisco six days prior and were not well rested or currently capable of throwing down super fast miles.


I had to dig into my bag-o-tricks and pull out mantra after mantra to keep my legs moving. "One step at a time!" "You freakin' got this!" "No regrets!" "You can do hard things!" "Leave it all out here!" "This is supposed to be hard!" "QUEEN!"

Mile 5 was where the wheels started to come off. My legs were tired, I was drenched in sweat (but this was the case as early as Mile 2), and the fatigue was setting in. I knew the dreaded "zig zag hill" was coming and wanted to push as hard as I could till then, but it was getting harder with each step. Eventually my watch beeped with a 7:24 mile.


Then Mile 6 happened... I told myself I wanted to run the "zig zag hill", but as soon as I got to it I gave up. I wish I could say it was 100% physical - that my legs weren't having it - but I've gotta #KeepItReal and confess it was definitely a mental issue. Don't get me wrong, it's possible I was able to walk it faster than I could've run it, but I got super frustrated with myself because I sort of just threw up my hands without even trying and gave myself permission to walk it. Now, please hear me out, I am NOT saying that walking is a bad thing, but quitting on yourself is. I really wanted to give this race my all and I felt like this is where I bailed because it got tough... and that's where the disappointment came in.

After walking the hill, I hoped that the quick reprieve would give my legs a little extra juice, but I was sadly mistaken. The final two miles felt like an eternity (even if I was able to get my pace back in the "correct" range). Within the last half mile or so an older woman sped by me and said "We better kick it in if we want to be under an hour". I wish I had a little extra gas in the tank, but unfortunately I crossed the finish line just over that mark (my official time had me three seconds over).

Oh my goodness... Look at how well I ran the tangents on this one! 8.01 miles - almost perfect!

When I finished I felt equal parts disappointed and proud. I was disappointed because it was so easy for me to give up on myself when the going got tough, but I was proud because in the previous six days I had run a marathon, done a hard hill workout and got in 48 total miles and was still able to drop some pretty impressive times. Hopefully that means when my legs are well rested after tapering at the end of my training cycle they'll be able to do even more!

When I mentioned my disappointed on social media, some folks mentioned "but you hit your goal" which I took to mean "but you ran the race faster than your pace mile speed of 7:37/mile". Even though that's true (7 out of 8 miles were faster than 7:37), the 9:00 mile irks me... as well as the fact that I know I didn't give it my all. Also, in the back of my mind, since I had run my previous pace mile workout at 7:20/mile, I was hoping I could run this race close to that (assuming the hillier course would be counterbalanced by the faster pace associated with the race environment). But, like I said, and like I need to remind myself, I had run a marathon a week prior and need to give myself some grace (easier said than done...).

I'd be lying if I said the outcome of this race didn't scare me. I mean, if I'm hoping to hit my goal at Ventura in October, I'll need to keep this pace (my average pace during this race was 7:31/mile and I'm shooting for 7:37/mile at the Ventura Marathon) for 26.2 MILES - OVER 18 MILES LONGER THAN THIS RACE! Thankfully I still have 11 more weeks of work to put in before I toe that starting line, so hopefully not only will my legs be better trained, they will be properly rested.

I may have lost 3 pounds in sweat, but I finished!

But enough about me and the craziness going on in my head, let's get back to the race... I was able to grab my goodies once I finished (medal, banana, water, KIND bar, Mamma Chia pack, etc) and head back to the finish line to cheer on the other runners. The hubby ended up crossing the finish line in 1:16:40 (which averaged 9:35/mile). He is a ROCKSTAR!

Hubby flying to the finish!

Both of us really enjoyed this race (like I mentioned, I had run it before but this is the hubby's first time). The distance is unique, the course is challenging, the volunteers are amazing, and Balboa Park is pretty spectacular.

A little more red and sweaty at the end than at the beginning ;) 

I definitely want to run this race again in the future (and maybe even break an hour). This year I ended up taking 4th in my age group and 15th female overall and would LOVE to podium in my age group. (Brian actually challenged me to finish in the top 5 female overall, but these San Diego women are speedy so I don't know I'll ever be able to make that a reality.)

I couldn't decide which of these two pictures I liked better... so you get them both ;) 

The runner we asked to take our photo was AMAZING and took a ton of great ones!

And I couldn't wrap up this recap without a HUGE thanks again to San Diego Running Co. (specifically Pete and Eric) for the entries and always being so supportive of not only me but the San Diego running community in general. They ROCK MY SOCKS! (And hopefully you guys know I #KeepItReal, so I'm not just saying that... they really are THAT amazing!)

The race starts and finishes at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, so that's what was featured on the medal this year.

Have you ever been disappointed and proud of the same run/ race?

1 comment:

Bree at Clarity Defined said...

I've definitely been both disappointed and proud with races.

With my marathon, it was finishing (my first!) and persevering through and injury (PROUD!), but taking way longer than I had been training for/anticipating (DISAPPOINTED!). With my last two half PR attempts, it was still setting a new PR each time (YAY!), but off the mark of the time I'd hoped/pushed for (BUMMER!).