First thing, I totally misunderstood the elevation shift of the course, (I expected mostly flat with a couple bumps) but the course, was not the pancake flat I hoped for...it was a rolling hill course. The hills were not anything major like you see in The Marine Corp Marathon, they were gentle rolling hills, but regardless of how large or small, I was mentally prepared for mostly flat, not rolling hills.
Another surprise, was the weather. All week, including Saturday afternoon before the race, the Weather Channel predicted Huntington's race day weather as CLOUDY and low 60's - perfect, right? Well, when I woke up that day, it was nothing but clear skies, which later became a hot blaring sun! (Great California weather, but bad racing weather.)
That is just the outside factors, that were not expected- I also had a slightly emotional/stressful Saturday, and was also still recovering from working 4-12 hour shifts that week.
All that said, I was thinking it would be flat course and a cool day, so I was hoping I could try to go sub 1:45 (1:43-1:44 was my goal). I have had some pretty strong and fast runs in my young spring training cycle, so why not try. But I also had promised myself, if it does not happen today to remember to HAVE FUN! (ya, that was soon forgotten.)
I was also able to meet up with a friend from my DC running group, Capitial Area Runners! It was great to see her! :) (I miss that group!)
It was a crowded start, and Surf City is not strict on who gets into to what corrals. I say this, because there were walkers(!!) in corral #2, within the first half mile of the run! Ughe. (People, get into your correct corrals!!! Such a pet peeve of mine.) There was a lot of swerving the 1st mile to get through the slower runners/walker, that did not belong in corral #2.
It stayed pretty crowded, until about mile 6.5(ish) for me, when we finally made a turn back onto the PCH (so the road was wider)
The 1st 3 miles were ok; my body felt just ok, not strong, like I felt for Disneyland half marathon. (Where I PR'd the half distance.) I could also feel the sun warming quicky, and warming me up very quickly.
I am typically very focused during my runs, but I was not today, and despite trying to so hard to get focused, it was not happening. I was distracted, by many thoughts, like, "it's too hot, I was tired, this hill sucks, etc"...still, I was feeling relaxed in my pace, and felt ok. ( I was shocked, when I reviewed my pace post run, that I ran 3 miles under 8 minute pace so easily)
At this point we were back on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) and I feeling pretty ok physically. (Note I am not saying great or good, because I never felt great or good the whole run) My lack of concentration was really draining my energy>to try and stay positive and focused. This will make me sound crazy, but it was a battle within my head, and it went like this: "I haven't trained enough." " but you have had such strong fast runs lately." I was so not expecting rolling hills!" "It's hot!" You're strong, you've got this, just run." etc....LOL. This will be my metal battle from mile 9 through the mile 13.
When I finally made the turn around to the finish, we turned around right into the sun!! It was HOT!! There was no shade, anywhere, just sun, beach and ocean. With the heat beating down on me, and my legs tiring, I actually started to think I may DNF (did not finish) this race pretty soon. I was unsure if, in this heat, I could keep up my pace or just keep up running, period. I was mentally breaking down and I actually walked briefly through a water stop, in mile 9. (I never walk!) I drank the cold water fast and poured water down my back, and began to run again....then I became mad at myself for stopping- ughe!
I ran strong through mile 10, as strong as I could, ignoring my "just stop" thoughts, with my sight focusing down at the road. (So that I do not see the course ahead) With 3 miles left, I kept trying to convince myself that 3 miles is nothing, that I am strong, and just to keep running!!!
Well, mid mile 11 I broke down again, and this time I walked and for longer, through another water stop. (ughe) I was hot, and mentally broken down even though mile 10 was ok, I was just tired. While I walked though the second water stop, I again thought about DNF'ing this run. I wasn't feeling strong physically or mentally, anymore...but I drank the water, poured to 2 cups of cold water over my head and took off...I just wanted to finish this no matter what the time.
Mile 12 I just ran as hard as I could. Again, my sight was down towards the road, so I couldn't see the finish line. I was afraid the distance to the finish would look too far away from me, and it would break me down mentally, again.
Finally I crossed the 13 mile mark to the finish, and gave it my last push of energy left...finally, this battle was done!!
To my surprise(!!) I PR'd the half marathon, say what?!? This run sucked! LOL....My time is 1:45:14, a 14 second PR. I was shocked!! I had no where felt as strong as Disneyland half, nor did I think I felt that I was running it "fast", like I felt like I had at Disneyland. I definitely did not have the concentration that day, that I had at Disneyland half either! ...I was mentally drained and physically gave it my all and still got me a PR- crazy!
I am happy I PR'd, but I am also frustrated I walked, TWICE!! I lost probably about 20-30 seconds, combined from both walks, from my time. So would have I gotten my sub 1:45 yesterday, probably, blarg....I missed my sub 1:45 by "that much", aka 15 seconds...
So lesson learned: I do see myself a much stronger runner, both physically and mentally, from yesterday run. Yes it was a battle, yes I walked twice, but I still pushed on, and I still PR'd! I will walk away from this run proud of my new fitness level.
If I can PR in shitty conditions, I can not wait for the stars to aline perfectly (great weather, flat course, and focused) Sub 1:45 will happen....