Not going to start this post with excuses this time. However, I was very concerned when I woke up the day before the half marathon with a sore throat, head congestion and several other classic common cold symptoms. I had hints of a cold coming on for a couple weeks, but I thought my system had fought it off. At least with one day of warning I could try out a few cold medicines to see which one would work the best for a 13.1 mile run. I needed the congestion to go away, the breathing to be clear, and hopefully not be too dried out. I decided to take a Mucinex to clear the congestion I could feel in my bronchial tubes. It was a pretty mild choice. I figured the aches and pains from the cold would just blend in to the new ones from the run. I had a time goal for this race, 2:10 with a 10 minute mile pace, but the time goal was not as important as this half marathon being a motivator to keep running long runs and prepare myself for even longer runs this summer in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. So I told myself that it would not be the end of the world if I didn’t achieve my time goal.
The conditions were nearly perfect for the run. The temperatures were in the low fifties at the start, but there was no wind and the sun was shining. Heat was not going to be a problem with this race like it had been with the Americas Finest City (AFC) Half Marathon in August of 2012. There was one big hill about 8.5 miles into the run, but the course was flat to that point. The finish was mostly down hill which helped me pick it up and take it in.
The race was well coordinated and the start was very well controlled, with 15 waves starting 1:45 minutes apart, which gave the next wave just time to move up to the line. In the AFC Half there was basically a mob start and the course felt very crowded for the first 2 miles. For this race the course had plenty of maneuvering space at the beginning and I was able to get out to a fast pace (for me) for the first 5K. I settled in to a pace that I could sustain for entire race over the next 5 miles. Running by MCRD San Diego’s entrance gave me a nice mental boost right before the uphill portion of the course started. The Washington Street hill is a gradual, but long climb with the last section climbing steeper. I was grateful for the lessons learned from my last race, I had mixed hills into my short and long runs while preparing for this race, so I was able to maintain a reasonable pace up the hill and quickly recovered my regular pace once I made the top of the hill. Although I was happy with my pace up the hill one older lady 60+ ran by me like I was walking. I thought I might catch her on the flat, but she was gone! As we ran past the western edge of Balboa Park, the city and finish started to seem to be pretty close. About a mile from the finish a heavy metal song came on my IPod during a nice downhill, which gave me the push I needed to just let it all out and try for good strong finish.
My average pace for the AFC Half Marathon, my first, was 11:31 minute miles. With better training and better conditions I was able to trim more than 2 minutes off my per mile pace. I finished in 2:03:19 with an average pace of 9:25 minute miles. I had beat my goal time by nearly 7 minutes! I also had much more energy left over after this race, and the possibility of successfully running the Marine Corps Marathon in October seems much more realistic. If I train smart, put in the miles, and stay healthy, and I’m fairly confident I will make it happen.
Coming across the finish line!
Leaving the finish line area after the race, feeling pretty good about the run, but no idea what my time was at this point.
Here are a few more pictures from the race… definitely dealing with a congested head and headache by the expressions in these pictures. New goal next race… smile for the camera! And I guess run under 2 hours, why not.
Running past the San Diego Maritime Museum, about 2 miles in. I’ve left most of the wave I started with behind and catching up with the next wave. When I signed up I guess I put 2:20 as my expected time. I did a bit better than that.
Running near the harbor a few miles into the race.
Leaving Liberty Station already past the 10K mark.
Beyond the top of Washington Street, mostly downhill from here.