I guess it took a race report to get me out of my blog drought. Just been busy and I guess a bit un-inpsired blog-wise, but hopefully I can start getting back to more regular updates.
This was the second year that I have run Shamrock'n. It is a really well organized race and a good start/end venue. Again, Brooks and Fleet Feet had a "VIP" area, which was great once I figured out where it was. Coming into this race, my goal was to run 1:58 like I did last year. I would have loved to beat that time, but given the circumstances (more on that in a second), I knew 1:58 was going to be a good goal to shoot for.
Yesterday, I spend the afternoon at a bachelorette party for a friend I haven't seen in quite some time. Although I had this race planned way before the bachelorette party came up, I didn't want to skip the bachelorette party. We rented a limo and headed to Sonoma wine country. My original plan was to not partake at all the wineries, but I was having fun and it was great to have some "girl time". I drank lots of water, but I since I don't drink much or often my body was probably a bit confused. It wasn't a late night - most wineries close by 5 and we had to drive back to the city and then I had to drive back from there. I was home by 8, but still made the mistake of staying up later than I should have, not including the hour lost to daylight savings.
I woke early and had to drag myself out of bed. I had everything prepared, so I just had to get dressed and eat. I was out of the house by 6. Like last year, they race organizers suggested carpooling due to congestion, but again, I arrived and it was not bad at all. I was concerned that packet pick up on race day would be mobbed, so a friend had picked mine up on Saturday and was going to meet me with it. Problem was, I got there before she did. I should have just done race day pick up. Next time I will know.
I was starting in the first wave which went off at 7:45. Even though I had gone to the bathroom already, I waited in line for the portapotty before the start - but with less than 10 minutes before the gun, I knew I wouldn't make it through the line, so I just headed the start anyway. I didn't really have to go, so I hoped that I would be OK or at least make it to the first set of porta-pots on the course. I also realized as I lined up in the coral that I forgot to put my 3rd gel in my pocket before the race. Damn, I only had 2 gels and figured that would not be enough for the length of the race. I was hoping to get one on the course if needed.
I started out at a good pace, not too fast - which is usually what happens to me. After the usual start/stop to cross the chip timers at the start line, the crowd thinned reasonably well and there was no real jockeying around other runners. I had my garmin, but also have been using the runkeeper app on my phone and using my phone to also play music. Runkeeper gives me the distance covered and average pace every 5 minutes, so I could keep an eye on my average pace. I realized after a few miles that Runkeeper is not as accurate as the garmin and was registering more distance meaning the pace it was giving me was faster than my actual pace. I figured it would at least give me a relative idea if my pace was staying the same, faster or slower. For some reason it never occurred to me to hit the lap timer on the garmin to get mile splits.
I was trying to not make the "mistakes" that I normally make - going out too fast then letting the wheels fall off at mile 10 or 11. I managed to keep the pace pretty steady more or less. According to runkeeper mile 4 was my fastest. My pace crept up a little from mile 4 until 9 when I started to focus on bringing it back down. Since I only had 2 gels, I planed to take one at 40 minutes, one at 1:20. When I hit 40 minutes I was about to hit a downhill, so I waited until I took advantage of the downslope before walking briefly to have my gel. I took the 2nd gel a little earlier than planned at about 1:15 - I was feeling that I needed some energy. I was still holding out hope for a gel on the course to get me through the end of the race. I know that those last few miles are the hardest ones for me to keep the pace up and the extra energy of the gel, I hoped, would get me through.
The course overall is pretty flat and while not a bad course it is kind of plain. around mile 9 you pass through Old Sacramento then head south (at least I think it is south) of the stadium but on the opposite side of the river. I hate this part because it is like you see that you are almost back to the finish, but before that you need to do this loop across the river. This was the part where I had to try and focus on keeping the pace up. I always play mind games with myself figuring out "if I do 10 minute miles from here I would finish at ____" I know that I can do a 10 minute mile, so this makes me feel like I can do it.
Mile 11 was the test - I wanted to keep my pace up through mile 11. Once you hit 12 it is like you are almost there, so 11 was the key to getting under 2 hours. I was also a little worried because I never did get another gel on the course. I just knew I had to push those last miles regardless. I was successful in keeping pace for mile 11, and then mile 12 was my 2nd fastest of the race. It was hard, but I kept pushing myself for those last 3 miles. If I had let myself slip, I would for sure not have finished under 2 hours. Seeing my race report from last year reminds me that it is the last 5k of the half that is where I need to keep mentally in the race and push myself. Actually come to think of it, today I had very few negative thoughts - I tend to start getting down on myself thinking maybe I can't get my goal and start to talk myself into a secondary goal "well, I won't make sub 2, but a 2:03 would be OK...." I never had those thoughts today. Today I kept my mind on the sub 2 goal.
88/641 Age group
Post race I headed back to the Brooks VIP area and enjoyed a little food and a very nice post race massage. Only 1 other time have I gotten a post race massage as usually they are super crowded and I don't want to wait. But since this was just for the VIP area, it went quickly. I caught up with the others who had run. Everyone had a pretty good race. The weather was actually perfect for running - 50's and overcast. Unfortunately it was not so perfect for hanging out, so I headed home. After a stop at Starbucks, a hot shower and a nap I felt much better. Although my legs are sore and I can definitely feel it going up and down the stairs.
I have been looking at my training from last year compared to this year and generally my speedwork has been the same or even slightly faster, so I knew that in general, I was ready for a sub 2 hour half. Given the day in Sonoma on Saturday and a slight sore throat I have been struggling with, I am pleased with how I did. The fact that I kept the negative thoughts at bay was also a good thing for me. Only 1 minute slower than last year. I am planning on another half in May. I will need to think about my training plan and what I can do. I would love to get a PR or near my PR (1:53) but cutting 6 minutes off my time seems to be a lofty goal, but we will just have to see.....