So, as Kristen prefaced with a beautiful sentiment of best wishes, I ran the Simi Valley Half Marathon on Sunday. I ran this race as a test, to see where I could appropriately aim for, pace-wise, in my goal half marathon in September. Unlike our LR#2, I am a very inexperienced racer, (if you exclude my weekly race to beat the hubs to the last of the tortilla chips that we love more than life itself). Also, this was only my second time running a full 13 miles.
After a practice run the previous week, I decided to aim for a sub-1:40 – below a 7:36 min/mile pace. Chacha had suggested starting at around 7:40-45, and then backing down to 7:30 for a negative split if I felt like it, which I decided was a great idea. Only partially because I had no devised no other plan for the race, whatsoever.
The race itself is set in the beautiful valley north of LA, on a not so-inspiring course of bike track that runs up and down the canal/creek throughout the town. That being said, it is mostly flat, with a few “gentle rollers” and the bitumen/trail was soft underfoot, which I appreciated.
Race day, I got up at 5am, had a cup of weak coffee, successfully getting “things” moving. I ate oatmeal with some peanut butter and half a banana. About half an hour before the race, I was still feeling sluggish and sleepy, so I had 3 cliff shot blocks.
I arrived at the race a half hour early, got my garmin satellite-up (satel-lit?) and moved up to the start line amongst what SOUAL terms the “short short” boys. The Race Director gave us a series of directions for the race, that went something like, “go around the bend until you see the crooked tree, go left at the old boar’s head, up the hill, around the creek, right at the large boulder, straight until you see the big red barn of Farmer O’Grady….etc.etc etc.). Um, race director, there are signs about every hundred metres of the course.
|This looks suspiciously indicative of a sign|
And if there weren’t, not a single soul here could have remembered the list of 20 instructions you just gave. But you know, thanks for the heads up…?
The gun went off, and everyone raced out. I looked down at my watch, and seeing a 7min/mile pace in the first half mile, I immediately backed off to 7:30. I knew most of the people around me couldn’t sustain that (for all I knew, me included), so I just tried to keep to my own pace.
|Bloody hell, Real Housewives starts soon, Id better run fast|
The first few miles were a bit tough to keep at 7:30... needed that extra cup of coffee I usually get
intravenously dripped into me. But by mile 4 or so, I found my rhythm, and
stuck to that pace pretty easily. In fact miles 4-10 felt good. Not “easy” per
se, but I felt really strong, and it was definitely about an 80% effort. It
showed in my splits.
The last two miles? A completely different story. Around mile 10, I felt the “urge” to use the bathroom. Either because of the intense energy I was expending holding that in, or because I just got tired (or a combination), I really struggled for the last 2-3 miles and dropped the pace towards the end.
The hubs caught a few pics of me just as this difficulty was settling in. This is the only picture in which I do not look like I have just been asked to perform kidney surgery on myself with a corkscrew. While listening to Celine Dion’s greatest hits.
|My butt-cheeks might be clenched tighter than a nun's habit right now, but at least I have a mad mid-foot strike going on|
Miles 12, I really had to start engaging in a looooot of self-talk to keep from stopping and ducking behind of a bush. The main thing that stopped me was that there was no bush. So the choice was to stop, and go to the bathroom in public. Or keep going, and risk going to the bathroom in public. I decided to go the infinitely riskier possibility of holding on til the end of the race. Power to the clench, people, power to the clench.
I arrived at the finish line with a chip time of 1:38:41. I came in 4th in my age group, 7th female, and 35th overall. My average pace was 7:32 min/mile (Garmin read 1:38 but with 7:35min/miles).
What did I learn?
- A 7:30 pace is very doable, and I think I can aim for something between 7:10-7:20 for my goal race;
- These legs need a lot more endurance miles in them to get comfortable running that distance; and
- Despite knowing where every.single.porta-potty on the course was, and following every piece of advice I had read about pre-race nutrition, I still found myself praying to the Lord that I would not experience the death-by-embarrassment that is every runner’s greatest fear. Gastro-intestinal system 1, Penelope 0. Better luck next time.