Tuesday, May 3, 2011

PCRF Half Marathon - Recap


This is going to be super long, grab a coffee. Or tea. Or water. And probably a snack.

I trained for this race with Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation's VIP program. It's similar to the TNT program we're all familiar with - you fundraise, they coach and motivate you through the training and race day.

I'd had this race on my radar for awhile - mainly because registration was reasonable, and it was literally down the street from my house. As in, we ran directly across the street from where I live.

I found out about the VIP program from SkinnyRunner, and jumped on it. We were just getting out of the hospital, and Gabby's diagnosis was still very new, and I felt like I needed to take some type of ACTION. Everything else was just happening around me, this I could grab on to and run with.

Anyway, I followed my training to the letter. I listened to my body, and moved around training days or rest days as needed. I ate consciously. I hydrated. I did my speed work.

I was ready. I felt great heading in. Carb loading done right...


I earned a free hotel night across from the start/finish line, and planned to stay there alone the night before. We did a test run in San Diego, the weekend before, and it was mass freaking chaos, so the kidlets got to stay home this time.


I bailed on the VIP pasta dinner pretty early to get my stuff together and hopefully get to bed at a freakishly reasonable time.


Note the Luna bar displayed prominently. Foreshadowing.

It kind of worked. In bed at 8:30. Watched the royal wedding (32 channels, 2 showing the wedding? Really?), until it put me to sleep around 9:30. Tossed and turned all night. Woke up a billion times because apparently I can't sleep when it's.... quiet. Or something.

Got up bright and early, got everything together, had cofefe, got the hair up in a reasonable way so that it wasn't touching me. Grabbed my Luna bar (breakfast!), and headed out... Got to the elevator and realized I forgot chapstick. Ran back... and this is where things began to fall apart.

I left my Luna bar in the room, and didn't realize it until we were at the start line.

Knowing I couldn't just run empty, I downed a Pineapple GU.

I saw Sarah Soon-To-Be, and wished her luck... then got this tweet from her later:

(How'd you do?? I totally didn't even register that was you at the start until you'd walked away -sorry I was so short!)


I lined up where to 2:20 pacer was mingling about...


But then, when I looked over 5 minutes later, he was MIA.

He was waaaaaay back there. Waaaaaaay past the 2:00 pacer that was... also behind me.


(Also, note the BLAZING WHITE HOT SUN. Already. It's 6:50am.)


There was no scooting back there, now, so I just kept far over to the side, and ran a comfortable pace.

I saw my cousin just before mile 1... She was one of the awesome volunteers that got up super early to help direct runners :D

She's on the left - she even conned a friend into waking up super early with her :D.

I was just cruising along. I felt great. It was definitely warm, so I was expecting to be HOT by the back half, but so far, so good.

I had some chafing I started to feel around mile 2... in an outfit I tested! WTF, clothes?! That's not cute.


Miles 1-3

I saw The H at just past mile 3 (remember, how we live directly across the street from the course...). I stopped to chat with him for a second, and told him, then, I needed to slow myself down. I felt GREAT, but I was going too fast. I had taped some paces to the back of my bib (2:20, 2:25, 2:30), and was ahead of the game, significantly. He said the 2:00 pacer had JUST passed us. Later, he said he was really surprised to see me so early.


Anyway. Like I said, I was still feeling great. As evidenced by my stupid happy grin while running uphill.

Also of note? How red my face is. It was probably in the 70's by this time, and only 7:30. Luckily, the wind hadn't started yet (foreshadowing!).

A few miles later, I'll kind of regret not turning left here...

Miles 4-5

And then it sucked.

Around mile 6, we hit a series of overpasses (okay, so, like, 2, but they seemed ginormous). The 2:10 pacer passed me around mile 6.5, and that was fine. I certainly had no business being in front of them anyway.


(Okay, so I took that while driving yesterday, but it's one of three that we ran over).

Mile 6-8
11:50 (GU and water stop)

Around mile 8 we turned into a trail through Mason Regional Park. It was hot. The air was dry and just... like... sitting. We were running INTO the sun, and the wind. The wind started. I considered puking, a lot. The 2:20 pacer passed me some where around here. We leapfrogged for a mile or so, but he pulled ahead on an uphill, and I just couldn't hang. I. Was. Done.


Yep. There were a handful of big-ish hills (overpasses), the underpasses I'd been training on, which never phased me before this, but seemed totally insurmountable today.

There was one, right at mile 11... there's a fork in the road - go left, under a road (and then UP the other side), on the race course, or... to the right, no incline, right out to the street and quit. It. Was. So. Close.

Obviously I walked a good chunk of mile 12. It was uphill, nothing significant, but steady, and... I just had nothing. I watched the 2:30 pacer breeze past me around 12.5.

The VIP Coach (Coach D) met me with about .25 left, and ran me in. She's the nicest chick ever, but in all honesty? I wanted to backhand her. There was a lot of yapping about how great I looked (lies), how strong I looked (also lies), how great I was doing (liiiiies). I just didn't want to hear it, I certainly didn't feel like I could pace with her in, and I most definitely didn't feel like I was doing anything particularly well right then.

She ran me in, and I didn't even look at my time. Not a single glance. I grabbed a water, and an apple, found the VIP tent, and sat my ass down. There was food, and beer, and margaritas, and I seriously considered puking, some more, at the thought of any of that.

Chip time - 2:32:53. Not the 2:20 I wanted. Not the 2:25 I thought was realistic. Not even the 2:30 I thought might be not challenging enough.


I definitely left EVERYTHING out there. Largely, because I made mistakes - I ran too fast, too early, I forgot my breakfast, I didn't know the course - I'd heard it was flat and fast, in previous years, but apparently the course changed this year. The elevation profile posted by OUaL from her Garmin...


There were also things just working against me - the heat, the WIND. We were running into a 15-20mph headwind for pretty much the entire second half of the race, after the turnaround at mile 8. I had no clue the second half was uphill.

But, considering all of these factors, I'm kind of okay with it. I'm disappointed that I failed to execute the plan I had. I'm pretty happy with my time considering how spectacularly I bombed. I walked probably 1/2 of miles 8-13.1, and still finished just 2 minutes off of my C-goal. Something to keep in mind, I guess.

I spent a significant amount of time Sunday (mainly from miles 10-13.1, and for 12 hours after) wondering why I would do this, why I would PAY to do this, and what was I freaking thinking signing up for more of these.

I'm over that. I spent an hour last night putting down my training plan through the Disneyland half.

I was kind of worried that I'd just be a miserable mess, running 13 miles without Disney characters to keep me entertained. But I wasn't, I was a miserable mess for 5 miles because I failed to execute my plan. The running, the course, the lack of Disney, all of that was fine. Again, I ran without music (I normally do when I'm running outside), and had no issues. I carried my handheld, and considered losing it a few times, but I'm pretty sure that's only because I was pissed off at everything at that point. I stopped to re-do my hair, once. Who does that in a race!?

The race itself was well organized - start and finish lines were easy to navigate, water stations were well stocked - mile 11 offered to dump water on us, it was that hot :D. The course was pretty dull, not really any course support, but that didn't really bug me. Just an observation. If screaming people are your thing, this probably isn't the race for you. If you don't mind running through random neighborhoods and cute parks, this might be a good choice. There was one complaint about the course - around mile 10.5, we transitioned from a neighborhood onto a bike trail, and were funnelled through a gate - like, a 3 foot wide gate. Single file style. Weird.

Packet pick up was easy, and the finish line expo was fun - especially if you have kids. Face painting, petting zoo, giant bouncy things. Gabby was able to go, and had a blast. THAT was really what turned my morning around - I was incredibly pissy after my performance, but seeing her, there, surrounded by people who just did amazing things to support cancer research for children.... Indescribable.

This didn't hurt, either.


So, what's next?

I've got Corona del Mar 5K June 5th, and City of Cypress 10K in July. I plan to spend the next 2 months focusing on speed, with easy long runs on the weekends. I don't intend to PR at Disneyland. I know next time I *race* a half, I'll kill it. I'll be patient :D


  1. this sounds soooo familiar!
    heat + wind = really hard combo!
    I'd take rain over this any day
    You did not give up!
    and you got a PR. Everyone over on my blog is telling me the same: any race with a PR is a good one. I am thinking they are right.
    I will see you in Anaheim...after that I am doing the Mission Inn 10k in Riverside.

  2. You finished. You did a great job, and you did it for a good cause. All I see here is a win for you. Don't be too hard on yourself; remember, a year ago, running was not on your agenda!

    You are such a rock star!

  3. Great race report, I felt your pain all the way through.
    I'm sorry you didn't get your goal time, but honestly, heat and wind, give me a break. There should be some math formula for subtracting time for those huge obstacles.

    I think it's great you stayed at the hotel by yourself, a couple of miles from your house. We've got the kids for my next few halfs, two of which S and I are both running. Should be interesting...

  4. Congrats on the race and way to push through the struggles, racing is alot more mentally tough then people think

    And congrats on earning a Pukie, it will be up this week

  5. Don't be so hard on yourself (I need to tell myself this all the time). You maybe made a couple mistakes but the heat and wind also makes a big difference and you still had a good race! Plus you had a huge PR! Congrats!

  6. There are so many things we can't control during the race, and they won't be perfect everytime... but it sounds to me like you were doing great! Congrats!
    The Disney half will be here soon!

  7. i feel like i finally learned to NOT go out to fast. but then of course i feel like maybe i have too much in the tank at the end....can't win huh ??? great job.

  8. HA! This cracks me up that you were so annoyed with the positive coaching. I'm the same way..shut the hell up! :)

  9. I think you are pretty awesome.

    I hate positive people too. No one will ever make me believe I'm "lookin good" at the end of the race. Puhleeze. I run on a treadmill that faces a wall of mirrors. I've seen myself. lol

  10. My gosh, warrior, as long as we dragged our fantastic arses to the finish line we know in hell or high water we can do anything, good job!

  11. I'm with funderson, I cracked up at your "liiiesss" because I have totally felt the exact same way.
    Remember, no matter what your time was, you finished and considering the heat and the bastard we like to call wind, well done.
    Great report and stoked for you and your next endeavors! Onward and upward, young lady!

  12. Any race that you finish is a huge success in my book. Good job. I'll see you in Anaheim! That's going to be my first 1/2.

  13. I'm with you and funderson--cut the BS.

    I think we've ALL had races like this! Mine was 3 weeks ago.

  14. Yeah, that course was trickery. I had the wrong stra-tee-gery on that one. And the dryness - I was like a walking salt-lick at the end.

  15. You totally summed up my experience...heat, wind, and stupid little hills that combined just pissed me and my legs off. Congrats for pushing through anyway! :)

  16. Well, seeing as I have never run 13.1 that fast I think you were AWESOME!!

    The heat made me sweat just reading about it. Ugh. I hate running in the heat. And I, too, get annoyed when I am feeling at my worst and people try to tell me I'm looking good. No. I'm not. I know I'm not, dammit! :) I really love it when I feel awesome and they tell me I am!

    You rocked it, I'm proud of you. I think your time is fast. OH, and I think you should be like me and became a half marathon puker! We could get team shirts or something! ;)

  17. Nice work finishing it out. I know exactly what it feels like to not hit your "easy peasy" goal. But, you slugged through it which is awesome.

    I HATE it when pacers pass me. It is so demoralizing.

    For that matter, I also hate the positive coaching too. :) I really hate a lot of things when I am having a craptastic race.

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