As I get older, I have come to realize that just getting to a start line healthy is a massive component in having a successful race. I try not to measure my self-worth by whether or not I run a personal best, though I may or may not be an insufferable whiner for a quick minute or two when I don’t.
At the end of the day, running is about staying healthy, working hard, and being committed. If all of the stars align and the day turns out perfectly, well then– you have some icing for the cake.
Training leading up to this race was decent. The cycle was short, but I was making progress in all of my workouts. Yes, perhaps I got a little greedy with my expectations, but looking back, my performance was easily predictable by any old race calculator.
(Sometimes in my zeal for training, I do accidentally forget that I am no longer 20-years-old and that I am pretty darn lucky to still be hitting PRs.)
The night before the race, Youngest and I watched a few Ted talks on Netflix. We’re nerdy like that. One of them was about doing power poses before you go into a situation where you might want a little extra Testerone. So on the starting line I had all of the people around me doing the Wonder Woman stance as the Star Spangled Banner played in the background. Unfortunately I had no idea how long the effect would last, which I quickly realized might be a problem after a few miles; it was fun anyway. (Luckily I didn’t promise anyone a PR. Or a rose garden.)
So with Testosterone coursing through my veins, I took off and began my normal weaving routine:
“I probably shouldn’t be weaving. It’s such a waste of energy and I will pay for it later.
But an 8 minute mile will kill my chances to PR! So up on the sidewalk I go. Around the hopelessly optimistic I go (of which I am one!) In and out and round and round.”
I don’t remember weaving last year, so I must have had a better position at the start. Perhaps my poor starting spot was the reason we had so much room to spread out legs like superheroes? Live and learn.
I love the Santa Clarita marathon. It’s just the right size. No one charges you fees for anything beyond your race bib. Parking is free and easy. The Expo is manageable. The volunteers are superb. As far as logistics go, it’s perfect. And the start/finish line is surrounded by a ton of restaurant options post-race.
(There is nothing worse than having to shell out a ton of cash, even after you’ve paid an exorbitant fee to go run yourself into the ground on race day. Which always begs the question, why am I doing this? But no, I’m not a huge fan of having to pay 20 dollars or more to park my car so that I can simply retrieve my race bib. No thanks!)
I don’t remember much about the first few miles of the race other than the fact that I felt pretty good. I kept thinking that I needed to slow down a bit because the pace felt fast. I usually try to get into a groove in a half marathon where I feel a little pain and a little control, all at the same time. Like not as painful as a 5K, but not as comfortable as a marathon.
I shared my splits in a previous post, so if you are curious you can check it out here.
According to all of my tempo runs and track workouts, I was in shape to run 1:34, so no matter how you slice the splits, my fitness was just about spot on at 1:33:43. Yes, I am a little miffed that my savior wasn’t at mile 8 to help pull me through those miserable miles before the last 5K, and I do think I would have run faster if he’d been there, but oh well. Perhaps I can blame my power pose for making me crash and burn a little?
Truth be told, I ran fairly even if you look at the elevation chart. But I like to have someone or something to blame for the fact that I’m not a speedy racer. It’s more fun that way!
As far as fuel goes, I took two gels during the race which was weird because I don’t usually do well with them. But if you can figure out how I can chew while running HM pace, please, let me know! I didn’t have any stomach pain or anything, but I usually feel better after taking Cytomax chews than I do when I slurp Gu’s. Perhaps I can melt the chews into a liquid and snort them? All ideas are welcome!
Even though I tapered well, I still felt a little on the empty side throughout the last half of the race. I am sure longer tempo runs and a bit more mileage during my training cycle would have taken care of that, but I did well with what I had in the tank.
I told you guys that I have been trying out a wheat-free diet, and I continue to stay on it. I have been craving beer, of course, but other than that, I feel great. I have a history of stomach issues and other health-related problems, so the benefits of the diet have not been just running-related. I plan to stay relaxed about it during the holiday season, as I do not want to be that huge pain-in-the-ass party guest. (What you don’t eat meat or wheat? Well, let me go get you a piece of cardboard out of the cupboard to gnaw on while the rest of us actually enjoy our food!)
No seriously, I do think the benefits of eating a plant-based, whole foods diet are immense. But it’s still fun to make fun of it, right?
I also feel like I have gained power by eating more fat and protein, for what it’s worth.
Oh, and the other thing I really like about small races? You can make the leaderboard with a fairly pedestrian time! The lady two spots ahead of me is the redhead that I chase on all of my long runs. (She is another of the Wonder Women with me at the start, as is the lady who came in 9th.)
(Katie and I won plaques. As did Nicole.)
So after the race, I really wanted a massive veggie burger and a giant beer, but I decided to go a different route.
I’m fairly certain Lyfe Kitchen is a chain restaurant, but they were giving away coupons after the race, and we were hungry.
You can get beer and wine there, but mostly it caters to pain-in-the-ass eaters like me!
I highly recommend it if you don’t want to cook but you also want to feel like high functioning person after having eaten a restaurant meal.
Overall, I feel like the Santa Clarita half was a success. Especially because now my marathon prediction time is 3:17.
I’m coming for you Ed Whitlock!!