As part of my “Race More to Race Better” training strategy, I have signed up to race pretty much any distance that falls on a day I can actually participate. I work six mornings a week, including holidays, so that really limits my choices to Sunday races, or – ta-da! – a Saturday evening half marathon, a/k/a the Davis MOO-nlight Half.
Lemme just throw it out there right away that I am not normally an evening runner. If I didn’t have an afternoon running client, I would pretty much guarantee you that I had never run at a time that included the letters “PM.” In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I have gone for a run after eating dinner. No, let me amend that: before Saturday night’s race, I could count on one finger the number of times I had run while the sun was going down instead of coming up (last summer’s Twilight Trail Adventure, a super fun and blazing hot 10K that I apparently never blogged about, sorry).
Suffice to say, I felt a little ill-prepared for a 13.1-mile jaunt in the dark. Not mileage-wise, just… everything else. Like what the hell do you eat before running at 7:30 PM? Should I take a nap so I wouldn’t be tired? Would it be hot or cold when the sun went down? Will I need a headlamp?
Answer key: a light, early meal, yes I should have but didn’t, still hot, and yes.
|Walking to the race start with Big Boy, who ran the 5K.|
The half marathon went off in two waves, with the slower runners (2:40+) leaving at 6:30 and the rest of us at 7:30. The 10K started with Wave Two of the half, and the 5K began at 7:45. All told, there were about 3,000 runners running three different but overlapping courses at three different times. I arrived a little later than I would have liked, due to traffic and parking issues, but still had plenty of time to hit the porto-potties and do a nice warm up.
I had absolutely no time goal for this race, other than hoping not to run a Personal Worst. With a belly full of dinner, temperatures in the 80s, a race course that can best be described with the word “convoluted,” and 14 hours of being awake behind me, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what I was going to feel like on this run, so I figured I shouldn’t aim too high. And, hooray! I totally aced my goal!
|Right out of the starting gate and I’m already blurry – ha!|
I started off at an easy pace, mostly because there was absolutely no other pace to be run. The street was crowded and I had purposely seeded myself near the middle of the pack so as not to go out too hard. Well, no problem there. I focused on my breathing and my effort level and just settled into my run. I felt pretty good. It was hot, but not suffocatingly so. My stomach was surprisingly fine and my legs felt strong. Everything was smooth sailing until somewhere in Mile 2 when my lower back/upper butt/hamstring suddenly seized up. WTH? I could still run, but I wasn’t super happy about feeling pain so early in the race. It reminded me of the lower back pain I had several years ago when I was dealing with sciatica and degenerative disc disease. Not cool. I walked through the water station and carried on with it. My back/butt/hammy never felt better during the race, but thankfully it never really got worse either.
In fact, I think my back issue pretty much sums up my whole race: I didn’t exactly feel good, but I never really felt bad either. My pace never picked up, but I also didn’t slow down very much. It wasn’t awesome, but it didn’t suck.
|Wonky feet? Chicken wing? Check and check! Cruising past the start – again! – a little after the halfway point.|
This race was pretty different from my last half marathon, in that I didn’t feel nervous before the start and wasn’t the least bit competitive while running. Mostly I was gutting it out. I traded places back and forth with the 2:05 pacer quite a few times, but I never really cared about staying in front of her. I passed a few people and I got passed by a few people. I ran for awhile with a girl whose feet were clomping so incredibly hard against the ground that it sounded like she was chopping wood. It hurt my knees just listening to her. I felt a little bit bad for the runners I passed who had been out on the race course an entire hour longer than me. I remembered what it was like at the World’s Toughest Half when literally the entire field of athletes passed me by on the bike leg. When it started getting dark, I took a glow stick from one of the cheerful volunteers, but had to ditch it less than a mile later because it was annoying the crap out of me. At Mile 8, I thought I was at Mile 9 and came up with the very silly mantra, “Any fool can run four miles, P, keep going!” When I got to the real Mile 9, I had to laugh, because…well…what else are you going to do? I walked through every single water station, but ran everything else. With less than a mile to go, I took a wrong turn following some spectators – they were taking the direct route to the finish line, but I had to go the long way around the parking lot. I may or may not have dropped an F bomb in front of their child when I realized what I had done. Oops. But finally, there I was! At the finish line! With another race under my belt and a really, really sweet medal to hang on my display rack! Woo hoo!
|Official finish time 2:06:59, 10/59 AG, 238/855 OA. Nothing beats finishing a race with a smile!|
Big Boy had a great race, too, running a (road) 5K PR time of 19 minutes flat and coming in 9th place overall!