Monday, May 7, 2012

PCRF Half Marathon Recap

My previous REAL PR was at Long Beach half, last October. I had set out then for a 2:20, but ended up with a really rough 2:29:48.

In February, I intended to run Mermaid Half - a flat course in San Diego. I didn't make it to the race (PSA, always always always double check your dates before driving 2 hours south....), but ran a 13.1 course by my house. My Mermaid goal was 2:20 (again). My non-race garnered me a 2:19:24. A new PR*. Ish. But fake, you know?

Going into PCRF, I knew the course was tough. But I also knew I had gotten a bit stronger. So I set pretty ambitious goals... 2:10:59.

In my favor, I've been training on this course for the last 12 weeks. At an easy pace, but last year during PCRF, I couldn't even run it. I walked almost all of it. 

This year, I've been running that bike path at the end of my 16, 18, 20 milers. And actually NOT DYING.

So, you know, I thought it might be a good time to go for a for REAL PR.

Saturday morning, we slept in (until 8, exciting times here), headed to breakfast at the Irvine Spectrum, then picked up our packets. Easy pick up, in and out in, like, 2 minutes.

Saturday evening, we attended a VIP Training Program pasta dinner. Thanks to YOU guys, I was the top fundraiser in the VIP Training Program, with $5,610. 

Team Gab ended with $5,849.

The event overall raised, I heard, $288K for pediatric cancer research.

You guys. The rest of this report, meh. THAT is what it's about.

The 18 minute PR (SPOILER) was just, like, a bonus.


Ate pasta. Crowned with a princess crown. Headed to our room (we stayed at the host hotel Saturday night, the Doubletree Irvine Spectrum), and hung out. Lights out at 9, and I think we all drifted off by 10. 

Sunday morning, the alarms went off at 5:13, and I got coffee brewing. Unlike last year, I managed to eat my breakfast (Luna Chocolate Dipped Coconut, delicious!). At 6:14 we were ready and headed out, and at the elevator, when The H realized he forgot his water. Good thing he did, because, duh, so did I. It's like i learned nothing from last year.

Got our water, headed downstairs, and ran into Jordan (running his first half marathon!) and his rad girlfriend Kaitlin (looking for a big PR). Kaitlin was running with Team Gavin. I met Gavin's parents through PCRF last year, and Gavin's mom, Kim, has been an enormous source of knowledge and sanity for me. She's also a published author, and you can snag a copy of Hope Room on Amazon (that's not an affiliate link, I just think the book is amazing). 

Headed over to the start area and picked up Snork and her friend, who were running together. Checked my bag - SO FAST AND EASY - and cycled through the bathrooms one more time - ALSO SO FAST AND EASY! I love races with excellent logistics.

I wiggled my way to the front of the pack to say hi to Pam (she ended up taking 3rd overall female!), and saw Monica and ChaCha lined up where they belonged, with the fast people.

I lined up just behind the 2:05 pace group, and just ahead of the 2:10 groups. I worked out a pretty elaborate pacing plan with Lesley, which I forgot at the hotel (oops), but since I'd been pretty much obsessing over it, I wasn't too worried. It was kind of burned into my memory.

Miles 1-5, Goal 9:45
These miles are a gentle downhill, down Barranca, onto the bike path, that I run every week. I was running a bit faster than I intended, but it felt pretty controlled. I'd been thinking about my previous races, and how I'm not super gutsy when I race. I play things pretty easy and conservative. I figured, if ever there was going to be a time to let loose and see what happens, the weather was good, and I was as trained as I could be. I might as well see how it went. 
Actual: 9:35, 9:31, 9:38, 9:39, 9:46

Mile 6, Goal 10-10:15
Slight uphill, heading over the 405 overpass. This was kind of the beginning of the end for me last year. This year, it occurred to me that... it wasn't all that bad. Walked for a minute to take a GU. Chocolate Raspberry. Delicious.
Actual: 10:14

Mile 7, Goal 9:35
Downhill, wheeeeee! I spent a good chunk of this mile passing a ton of people, and wondering if I was making a GIANT mistake by destroying this downhill. 
Actual: 9:09

Miles 8-9, Goal 10-10:15. 10:30's 8.5-9 if needed
This is where the course looped into Mason Regional Park. I hated this last year, and felt myself starting to hate it this year... But I focused on the scenery - turns out it's super pretty, and full of lovely wildflowers. It still sucked, the incline, but at least it was pretty, I guess.
Actual: 10:10, 10:19

10-13.2, Goal 10-10:15
Margot met me at mile 9, because she's the best internet friend ever. Quite honestly, I was pretty miserable. I was having a really, REALLY tough time, and she admitted I looked pretty uncomfortable. It was hard. It was getting hot. I was not feeling well. I had a BAD time trying to take in another GU. It sucked. But, y'know. I guess PR's kind of suck. Margot was a damn saint. I told her probably a dozen times that I couldn't do it. I told her I was walking. And she never let me quit. Last year, I almost walked off the course at mile 11. This year, she reminded me of why I'm doing this. It was pretty great. I spent a lot of time in my head trying to calculate what pace I needed to hold to hit my 2:10:59 goal, and it was pretty close, but in the end, I just couldn't quite pull it out. The small uphills at the end - there were a bunch of them - they just did me in. 

Margot pulled off the course just before the finish when my PCRF coaches joined me to run me in. Poor Coach Matt got my hand waved at him, which was me trying to indicate that I felt like shit and couldn't really communicate. I don't think it was super effective. I vaguely heard #1 yell mom, and she ran in next to me. Coach Doris ran me across the finish line, and like last year, I didn't believe her dirty lies about looking strong. I felt like hell. 

Actual: 10:27 (GU attempt), 10:23, 10:37, 8:59 (?!?)

Official time: 2:11:30. 

My garmin read 13.2 miles, so I'm totally claiming this as a sub-10 overall pace (9:57!!!). 

In February, I was REALLY hoping I could hold a 10:41 pace over 13.1 miles. Sunday, that was slower than my slowest mile. 

Who knew.

Turns out, when I race for REAL, I'm completely oblivious to things around me. Snork's husband was following us around the course taking pictures!
Mile 3 - this is literally across the street from my house. I kind of love that I know these trails so much, but it seriously made it hard to push when I'm so used to running easy on them. 

Downhill... wheeeeeeee

That's me, dying, at 13.05.

Apparently ChaCha and Monica were also spectating at the finish line, but... again, dying, and totally missed them. Boo! 

Lesson learned: I won't be going for a PR on this course again, ever. I'll run it, every single year I am physically able to. But I won't be racing it again. No thanks. My legs are more trashed today than they have been in MONTHS. 

The H finished his FIRST half in 2:02:38. Yesterday he said he was never doing it again, ever. Today, he's considering a fall half. It's addictive.

This is really long, so I'll cover the post-race separately.


  1. You did *awesome*. You did a great job of hitting paces and pulled out a smokin awesome PR (don't forget the original goal for this race was 2:15). But most importantly... Look at that awesome fundraising amount!!! Yes, yes, yes!!! Go team Gabby! Now, go #eatallthethings

  2. You crushed this race! I always knew you were speedy! Congrats!

  3. Awesome job! And thanks to Jesse you have tons of great race pics!

  4. Congrats on the PR. Congrats on the fundraising. Sounds like a great day:)

  5. Back in 2007, I had a 2:29:46 half marathon PR and then on the old OCM course, which ended at the Spectrum, I PR'd with a 2:11:18. Sounds like you're headed down the same track as me ... sucks to be you! :P

    But you're absolutely right about the most important number being the money raised ... $288K for pediatric cancer research is awesome. That's going to save lives. The HUGE HUGE HUGE PR is the cherry on top!

  6. Loved everything about this post! Congrats again!

  7. Congrats on winning with your fundraising. So amazing.

    I love your running downhill picture. Downhills are the best. The bummer is you have to go uphill to get there.

    Glad to know someone else wanted to walk off a half course this weekend. Gurl, I felt it too.

  8. Yay for the awesome PR! (You'll be going sub-2 soon I think...) And, even better, that's an incredible amount of money raised for a great cause, way to go! :)

  9. Congratulations on a RIDICULOUS new PR! YAY!

  10. You and your husband are both ridiculously awesome.

  11. Uhhh, YOU'RE SO AWESOME!!!! Way to go!!! You're going to be sub-2 in no time. Will you pace me at a race soon?

  12. WOW! What a great race--congratulations on your PR:-)

  13. The course is a smidge long and with the 10K merge, makes it hard to run tangents to get as close to 13.1 as possible.

    And holy crap, you look strong in mile 3 - you look like you're flying!

    You are easily going sub 2:10 on a reasonable non-annoying course.

  14. congrats congrats congrats! you did great-and pushed through when you didn’t want to. and most importantly raised a *hit ton of $$ to kick cancers ass. :)

  15. What would I be if not horribly late on commenting on this. GREAT job out there. Not only did you set a MASSIVE PR, you beat your half marathon goal by 4 minutes. That just doesn't happen - unless you are amazing. Great job!

  16. get it, girl! way to run HARD and pR!!

  17. Wow! team fundraising/ team Gaby/ team PR by 19 minutes /slash/ this post wins. Nicely done!

  18. Awesome PR! Congratulations on a great race!

  19. You're my running hero.

    Enough said.


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