Eric Rial at the finish of the AFC Half Marathon 2012

Even though I was very inspired by the runners in the Olympics, I figured I wasn’t going to set a World Record this time out. My goal for this half marathon was to run a personal best. Of course that was not too tough of a goal… this was my first half marathon and the farthest I’ve run in my life… so far.  Running the America’s Finest City (AFC) Half Marathon was a milestone event in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2013. I will also be running the San Diego Half Marathon March 10, 2013 as a second milestone/test for the full marathon about 6 months later. Actually I had hoped to run 10 minute miles for my first half marathon, and finish about 2 hours and 10 minutes. I have a ton of excuses! I had an injury that put my training on hold for 5 weeks. When I returned to training just 5 weeks before the race, I had to accept that running increased distance was more important than time. So I increased my miles, from 4 to 6 to 8 to 10 miles then back down to 5 the week before the race. Instead of having 4-5 weeks with 10 mile runs I had one. So it was no surprise to me that my 10K time was under 10 minute miles, but my finishing time was over 11 and a half minute miles. My overall time was 2 hours and 31 minutes. I ran out of gas! I was still disappointed though. My 10 mile training run was at a 10:07 minute mile pace so I was still hopeful to have a chance to finish near my goal. This brings me to my second excuse – unusually hot August weather for San Diego. Starting a 7am, the weather would usually be closer to the high 60’s in San Diego, even in August, with highs in the low 70’s. It was about 10 degrees hotter than normal and by mile 10 when we turned up hill I was feeling the heat.

Eric Rial at the Balboa Park Fountain after the 2012 AFC Half Marathon
OK, enough with the excuses. Even with the heat and some truly sore legs and feet, I still enjoyed the run. Regardless of not doing quite as well as I hoped, I was happy to finish with a somewhat respectable time my first time out. It was a great experience and I can’t wait for the next one. I have definitely learned the importance of training harder, which I will gladly do, but I will also train smarter. I absolutely need to run some hills. The San Diego Half Marathon starts and ends downtown, but also heads up the hill toward Balboa Park. I will need to be able to go up the hill early and then maintain a steady pace in the middle and have enough left to take advantage of the downhill run toward the finish. Sounds easier, but I could see being done after the starting hill if I don’t train for it.

I also learned half of what it means to run a marathon. I know without a doubt that I could not have run another 13.1 miles at the end of this half marathon. It would not have mattered if I had gone slower, I just could not have done it. This tells me that I will have to train much harder for the marathon. I expect that I will do some longer runs, up to 15-16 miles before the next half marathon. I want to finish the San Diego Half Marathon with some gas left in my tank. I want to feel that I could keep going! I’ll need that feeling to be able to confidently sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon a couple of weeks later.

Finally, I have to be honest… the picture at the top of the post was a “do over”. My wife thought she had missed getting a picture of me because the camera had powered down. However she did get a picture of me. A much more candid shot of how I felt right after finishing… no I didn’t spill anything on my chin, that’s my very tired tongue dangling onto my chin. A true look of exhaustion!

One tired tongue wagging old guy finishing the AFC Half Marathon

Although I was very tired, I did manage to walk about a mile back to the Zoo parking lot. Then I took a nap on the drive home and a dead to the world nap on the couch when we got home. We looked at open houses that afternoon, but I was in bed for the night by 6pm. I was really sore on Sunday, but was able to accomplish one final goal on Monday. I walked in to work with no noticeable limp!

Eric Rial rehydrating at the finish of his first half marathon

Here are a few more pictures from the course. All from near the finish. I looked a lot better (less in pain) the first 8-10 miles!

The steeper climb behind me but feeling the heat

The steeper climb behind me but feeling the heat. A couple miles to go.

The heat got me and I walked about 2 blocks

The heat got me and I walked about 2 blocks right after running over the 163. It actually felt good to stretch my legs out, but I didn’t want to walk at all.

Love Balboa Park - even better when you know the finish is near

Love Balboa Park – even better when you know the finish is near

Getting really close to the finish

Getting really close to the finish, I can see the Spreckels Organ Pavilion just ahead.

Update: March 2013 My actual crossing of the line picture, not the “redo”, now comes up very high in the image results if you search images on Google for “one tired old guy”, not the kind of attention I was hoping for! But funny.

Update: March 10, 2013 I’ve run my second half marathon… The San Diego Half Marathon

  1. Dude that’s a great time for your first half-marathon. Looks brilliant as well, America definitely knows how to put on fun events; good luck in the Marine Corps next year

    • eric.rial says:

      Thanks. Looks like you run Ultra-marathons… that is not on my list, but way to go. I also like your simple training plan.

  2. Great, Eric. You did it! That’s awesome. I think your second one will be better and easier. I was so surprised when I did it how hard the last mile was. It was the longest mile. Hills in your training will definitely help. I did a training group for the first, and only one, that I’ve done. I couldn’t imagine doing it without a group. And, yes, we did hills! So, great job. Good for you!

    • eric.rial says:

      Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve almost recovered from this run. My lower back really tightened up the day after the run and then I tweaked my upper back. Going forward I’ll have to actually stick to the more regular stretching already in my plan. I’ve been to the gym and got on the elliptical, but was hoping to run again today. Not quite there yet. I’ll get back out there soon though. As far as hills I have plenty to choose from. I work on Point Loma so I could just run there. I’ve run at Balboa Park before on the way home, but avoided the hills, pretty easy to add some hills there. I also live near Mission Trails Park, so plenty of hills to choose from here too.

      • Congratulations to you. I need to get back. You’ve motivated me. Oh yes, the hills. They are supposed to work wonders, even for you speed if you do sprints. Hard stuff, but that actually was my favorite workout when I ran with the training group. We would do a warm up, up and down the hills about 8x (with a good pace, cool down pace on the way down) and then a cool down. About an 8-mile workout. You got lots of hills in San Diego!! Don’t I know it. I ran in Scripps Ranch once where my sister lives. Some tough hills there. You should be very proud, Eric, of your great accomplishment.

      • eric.rial says:

        Sounds like a good workout. I may try that over by Point Loma. Not sure I would go as far as proud on this first one, but thanks. I’m definitely very happy that I finished and encouraged to keep training and do it again!

      • Hey! I started running again thanks to you! That is a pretty tough workout. You could just pick any hill, not too steep…the thing I remember about hill workouts that was a good tip was to try to keep the same pace each time you do it. Nice, steady good pace up and then recovery down. Good luck with your training. I’m slowly getting back 🙂

      • eric.rial says:

        That’s great! Enjoy…

  3. Billie says:

    Congrats! I love your do-over finish line photo. I think I need to start doing that as well 🙂 I am looking to run MCM 2013 as well! I’m looking forward to following your training.

    • eric.rial says:

      Thanks Billie. I’m hoping I look as good as the do-over picture without the do-over next time. I really want to have some gas left in the tank so I feel confident about signing up for the MCM a couple weeks after the next half marathon.

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