Tuesday, December 17, 2013

#DoublePRWeekend, Part 2 - Holiday Half Marathon Recap

For the tl;dr version: This was a really hard race for me, the course kicked my ass, and I kept running until I finished, and PR'ed. 

On Sunday, I ran Holiday Half Marathon in Pomona. Margot, Monica and I drove up together, so I got to sit back and enjoy the pretty drive...

The race has an 8am start at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona.

It's a little hilly. The website notes, "The Pomona Valley is a naturally hilly landscape and while certain inclines could not be avoided, this course was designed to be as friendly to runners as possible."

So, I knew it was hilly. I was hopeful that the nice weather would come back, but alas, it was warm and SUNNY. Since these are my 3 least favorite things - hills, sun, and heat - I was not super optimistic when we got there. On top of that, my legs felt.... kind of flat. I felt okay, but I sure wasn't feeling very peppy. I had cut back on my longer speed work over the last 4 weeks, to focus on shorter 5k efforts, so I wasn't sure my previous 2:05 goal was still reasonable.

After a last-second bathroom excursion (real bathrooms!), Monica and I squeezed into the corrals as the national anthem was finishing up. I stuck to my spot between the 2:00-2:10 pacers....

Goal A: 2:05, 9:32 pace. This was kind of an arbitrary goal that I picked back in September.
Goal B: PR, sub-2:11, 9:59 or under
Goal C: Eh. If I felt just DEAD DEAD DEAD, I planned to circle back to a friend of mine that was running a slower pace, and run/walk with her and take pictures, pretending I was at Disney.

When the race started, I tried sticking with the 2 hour pacer (WHY WOULD I DO THAT??) for a bit, but I thought she was just going too fast for me to sustain, so I dropped back before the end of the first mile.

I realized pretty much right away that my legs just felt heavy. However, I also realized that they felt just as crappy running uphill as they did running downhill, so... pretty much, I just ran. I know that's a simplistic and ridiculous thing to even say, but since I was uncomfortable either way, I just went with it. 

I tried to run a consistent effort, and while I was checking in with my Garmin fairly regularly, I was trying to not let what I saw change how I was running. If it felt okay, I kept going. If I felt like it was a lot of effort, I eased up and let it happen.

Pretty much the ENTIRE time, I was thinking:
This is really hard.
Keep moving your feet.
Holy crap, this is so hard.

I know I keep saying this, but for real, even the downhills I felt like it was all just so hard, because my legs were D E A D.

The course loops around the fairplex, out into a park, back through some the fairplex, then loops through Bonelli park and around a lake from miles 3-11. You guys, I remember NONE of the lake, at all, and that's crazy, because... I ran around a lake for 7 miles. I don't even know what was happening around me.
and yet, there it is. a lake. 
Anyway. I feel like the miles ticked by pretty quickly, and when I got to mile 8, I started doing some brain math to figure out how much cushion I had to still hit a PR. I knew 2:05 was out, but that was fine - I really didn't think that was in the cards in the heat/with the hills. I was feeling pretty tired, but it was no different than before, so.... I kept going. I was certainly slowing down, and my legs were even MORE dead, which I was surprised about, because I didn't know it was even possible.

I knew at some point, there was a downhill to the finish, but I couldn't remember if it started at mile 11 or 12, so I was pretty sad when mile 11 felt HARD. Joke's on me, downhill started at mile 12.

Margot - my running fairy godmother - jumped in with me around 12.5, and tried to run fast, but I had negative-zero kick left, and shuffled along behind her.

Man. It was one hard-earned medal for me.

Splits: 9:18, 9:51, 10:06, 9:25, 9:36, 9:33, 9:50, 10:12, 9:31, 10:08, 10:13, 10:03, 9:27. .2 8:49. 

 2:08:56 - Garmin measured 13.2mi, and 9:46 pace.

 After the race, I met back up with Monica, SR, and SR's friend Reese while Margot ran a few more miles, because she's an overachiever.

And then we did the blogger-required things, like stopping at Starbucks and taking pictures of our food.


I am really, really, really pleased with this race. I am still kind of surprised that it even happened. I didn't expect a PR, honestly, and I spent so much time thinking that I was REALLY uncomfortable, and being surprised I wasn't stopping. I was one walk break away from missing a PR, but I never really considered walking? Like, it didn't really cross my mind.  the 2:10 pacer passed me at one point going up a hill in mile 10, and I just let her go, then caught and passed her on the downhill. I don't know. Maybe this is some "mental fortitude" I have been missing in previous races?

I've been having some issues on my recent long runs with - I'm guessing - my salt/dehydration/something like that. I am a reallllly salty sweat-er, and on my last 3 or 4 runs over 13ish miles, I've ended up with raging headaches for the rest of the day. I am a living-on-the-edge type of girl, so I tried a different fueling plan Sunday - margarita shot blocks every mile, starting at mile 3, and a salted caramel GU around mile 10-11. It was... okay. I don't know, I still felt on the verge of leg-cramping a few times, but I'm not sure if it was the salt/electrolytes, tired legs, or just hills. Anyway, the headache didn't happen, so I guess it's some improvement.

There were supposed to be aid stations every mile after mile 5, but that wasn't really the case, and it was kind of frustrating for me to NOT have aid stations where I expected them to be, because I was timing my fuel. I mean, I am an obsessive type, and checked the website so I could be prepared, so it's annoying to not have the stations where they're advertised. Whatever.

It's really a lame complaint, because there were PLENTY of stations, I just wanted them in specific spots I guess? lol.

The shirts are really great - I LOVE it.
I am lame and didn't take a better picture - this print is on the left side/bottom of the shirt. 

It was hot hot hot hot hot. I think mid-70's at finish? With an 8am start, it was pretty rough on me - I wilt in the heat. If the race had started an hour earlier, it would have been much better. A lot of the course is exposed, so with the bright burning sun, it was pretty horrendous. I really don't like hot/sun.

Overall, it's a good race, and well organized. However, IMO, it's over-priced unless you register for early-bird pricing. A few years ago, I want to say I registered for this event for, like, $60 (and ended up DNS'ing). This year, when I thought about registering last month, I think it was $90? Thank goodness for a last-minute giveaway.

The course is HARD. I know I went in with tired legs, but it is constant rolling hills. There are no flats.

Monday, my legs felt pretty beat up - my quads, hamstrings, and glutes were UNIMPRESSED with all the things I did to them this weekend. But.... I'm curious what I could do on a friendlier course, so.... maybe a do-over is in order? Maybe.

Or I could just retire now.


  1. Congrats on your PR! Especially in that heat, 70s are not great running temps. Ridiculous.

    Love the medal and shirt. Your outfit turned out awesome.

  2. I can't believe you didn't remember major portions of the course -- shows that you were really mentally focused on the race! Great job and congrats again on the PR!

  3. The fact you didn't even CONSIDER walking is unbelievable to me. I'm such a quitter like that :D

    I love this post, love the epilogue. Congratulations on a PR'ing on a tough course!

  4. Just found your blog via your Twitter rants about Running Bloggers. I am dying! Can't wait to read more :D

  5. Again, congrats on the double PR. Glad you were able to do so well on such a tough course.

  6. Congrats, congrats, congrats again on the double PR. While this was uber impressive, I was literally salivating and jealous over the cronuts and may have repeatedly told the SO that I should have run the half marathon with you all so I could have gotten a cronut, not because I wanted to run the 13.1 miles that morning. Sad but true.

  7. Seriously great job. Heat and hills are a nasty combination. Congrats in your double PR weekend!

  8. CONGRATS!! back to back racing and a PR on dead legs in awesome!! interesting on your thoughts on the mental part of it. also, how much do you drink before/during a race? even the day before?

  9. Heh, there's something super funny about 70 degree weather at a race with a snowflake medal. Looks like a super sweet shirt, though!

  10. Congrats on your PR, you are the fastest!! I have a similar salty sweat/headache issue and it is awful. I've started taking Hammer electrolytes, one right before I start and then ever 30-45 minutes during the run, followed by one as soon as I finish. Maybe it's over kill, but I haven't had the horrible headaches since I started.


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