RACE REPORT: My First Half Marathon Race

EVENT: Half Marathon  | Southern California Half Marathon
DATE: January 12, 2013
LOCATION: Irvine, CA
DISTANCE: 13.1 miles. Mass Start
COMPETITORS: 73 IN MY AGE GROUP (45-49).  1305 Total Participants
TIME / PACE /PLACE: 1:31:34 / 6:59/mi. / 11th in age group  and 104th/1305 overall

The race organizers just so happened to have picked the coldest winter morning we have had so far here in Southern California. There was actually a frost advisory out on the Weather Channel. I guess that means that the three or four orange trees left here in Orange County were potentially at risk. More practically, that means that those getting up early to go to Starbucks or their yoga class would need where long sleeves. The overnight low was about 36° F which is actually pretty chilly for this area.
After a good nights sleep and a relatively light breakfast I did a bit of a warm-up and then bundled up and rode my bike over to the start which was fortunately just a couple of miles away.
I was not quite sure how to dress for this race. I was planning on running with leggings and a jacket, but as I looked around and saw others And felt the sunshine starting to warm things up, I opted to ditch the jacket but keep the leggings and gloves. Good choice.
The course took place partly on the streets of Irvine, and partly along the River Creek bike trail. It was pretty dead flat the entire way with the exception of the bike trail underpasses which was just a short decline and incline. The flat course, no wind, and cool temperature created a perfect race condition. I have never raced anything over a 10K before and I thought it might be a good idea to run this race three weeks before my marathon in part as a tuneup race and in part to practice the pacing a bit. About two weeks prior to this race I had done a 19 mile trail run and for some reason it just really physically exhausted me for several days afterwards. For all of my runs afterwards I never felt very fast or with much “spring in my step”. I was really concerned that along slower runs in training for marathon had really slowed down my pace. There were times when my legs just did not feel like they were mine and it was a bit disconcerting. Previous to this race I had done a couple of half marathon distance training runs and I believe the fastest was about one hour and 42 min. My goal for this race was to come in faster than 1:40. The runners world website tools page has a race predictor calculation tool. Using that tool, I had plugged in my previous 5k and 10k times and they had predicted that I would run this half marathon in about 1:35 – way too optimistic, I thought.
At the start of the race, I lined up with the others and the estimated pace queue and took off running just comfortably. About a mile or so and I looked at my watch and saw that I was running about 7:30 min. per mile. this was clearly too fast or so I thought. After couple miles as my legs started to warm up and loosen up and he felt like they were mine again, I decided not to watch the pace but just to feel the race. I concentrated on form and breathing comfortably. I kept sending my sights on the next person or group of people that were 50-100 yards ahead of me.

Southern California Half Marathon

Southern California Half Marathon

I would play little psychological games with myself. I would see that next person up there and say to myself “That’s a girl. I cannot let a girl beat me“, or “Well that is just a young high school kid. What do they know about discipline and pacing? I can’t let them beat me“, or ” That dude is just way too muscular to be a runner. Just carrying all that extra muscle weight around. I cannot let him beat me“. And so it went throughout the whole race.  I must have positioned myself well at the beginning of the race as there may have just been one or two people that passed me, but I gradually passed innumerable other racers. That is always nice for psychological boost while you are racing.
I am very please with my overall time, but I am much more pleased with the progressive increase of speed and overall negative split pacing for the race. My splits were as follows: 7:25, 7:30, 7:20, 7:17, 7:04, 7:08, 6:57, 6:53, 6:53, 6:47, 6:50, 6:50, 6:31.
The last hundred yards or so was an all-out sprint against a tall and lanky high school aged guy. He beat me out at the end. I was not sure if my legs could continue turning over that fast as it is not something I usually practice. I didn’t want some dramatic tumble and fall at the end at the finish line.
So now, a couple days out am a bit sore but did a bit of running last night. Overall, it was a bit of a confidence booster and I will go into my marathon better prepared and confident that I will be able to complete it.

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7 Responses to RACE REPORT: My First Half Marathon Race

  1. Jack Eberly says:

    Very impressive. Nice progress and predictable in my opinion based on your races to date. Best of luck for your future.

  2. MichelleK says:

    Very nice job – especially for your first! I’ll be doing the Surf City half this weekend. Good luck with your marathon 🙂

    • Thank you. I’ll be there for the marathon. I’ll wave to you.

      • MichelleK says:

        What’s your goal? When I signed up for this one, I thought I would have a chance to break 1:40. It’s taken me longer to recover after my marathon than I thought it would, so I’d be happy to go 1:45.

      • My ambitious goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon first time out. For my age, it is 3:30 (8:00/mi). I’ve never gone over 19 miles, so we’ll see how it plays out. I’m really going to watch the pacing. I think that was the key to the HM. Run tall, high cadence. But I don’t have the racing history or pedigree to be giving out much advice. Cheers.

      • MichelleK says:

        You are definitely talented enough to hit that time if: 1) you’re properly trained for the marathon 2) your nutrition is dialed in 3) you don’t start out too fast and blow up. I have heard many stories of people who had a great 1st half of the marathon and blew up during the second half. It’s a very different race. Respect the distance. I’ve only done two marathons, so take my advice for what it’s worth. I enjoyed the first one. I did not enjoy the second, but I did get my BQ 🙂

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