La Jolla Half Marathon

Spoiler alert: I finished!

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But it was a long and winding road to get to this picture. First, I’ll start with the negatives leading up to this race to get them over with. All week/month I’ve been less and less motivated to run. I got the miles in but wasn’t necessarily pushing. And mentally I was/am drained. Then, this race was a point-to-point meaning we started up at Del Mar racetrack and finished down in La Jolla Cove. That’s tricky because it means shuttling one way or the other.Boo. And I had a super busy weekend planned because lots of cool opportunities all happened at once (post on that soon!) so I knew I’d be tired/sore race day.

So, I decided last minute to take my friend X up on his offer to crash in La Jolla Saturday night. This would allow me to just walk to the shuttle at 5:30 am instead of driving down and fighting for parking. I crashed early and slept through my first alarm, but did still manage to catch the bus! Because of heightened security with the bag drop, I had determined it would be less hassle if I just wore old, warmer layers and then left them at the start to be donated. Especially since I didn’t need my car keys. So I rested my eyes on the bus ride up and thought about the race. Unfortunately, I happened to rub my eyes as I was getting off the bus. Big mistake.

One of my contacts slid up in my eye, which happens occasionally. The problem? When I went to pull it back down, only half came with my finger. After digging the rest out, I tossed the pieces, took a deep breath, and told myself that if I was half blind I wouldn’t be able to see the huge hill on the course. After hanging out for over an hour at the start line, we were off! My plan was to cruise at around 8:30 pace for the first five miles, which actually went really well! Then we got to the Torrey Pines hill. It’s a monster. It lasts about 1.5 miles and is super steep. You can see it from about a half a mile away (in theory) so it looms in front of you. My plan here? Slow and steady wins the race, or at least doesn’t die. I didn’t want to blast up it from the start and then crash, so I just went as fast as I thought I could without burning out.

Miles 7-10 were rolling hills and I was struggling here. My hips were starting to hurt again, even though I’ve had little trouble with them the past few weeks. I was also a little behind my pace, which I completely expected because of the hill. But I was holding out hope that I could cruise down the big hill at a fast enough pace to finish in under two hours. Along here somewhere I saw a spectator sign that read, “Someday you won’t be able to run anymore. Today is not that day”, which I loved on many levels and it motivated me to keep going. When we got to the steep, sloping downhill I just let my legs out. I’m usually fairly good at not trying to hold them back too much but to just relax into the slope and trust them. Mile 11 and I was BARELY on pace to meet my goal. However, my legs had really taken a beating at this point and were beginning to fade… and I knew I had a “normal-size” hill left to go.

Specifically, I had 19 minutes to go 2.1 which is 9:00 pace… after running 11 miles and a mountain, with more hill left. From the start, I knew this was going to be a mental race for me since I’d been struggling and had a few set-backs (aka I couldn’t see). But I am a fierce competitor against myself and the clock, so I dug in and started plugging up the last hill into La Jolla. It helped that I passed a group of spectators holding signs that said, “Tell your legs to deal with it and put their big-girl pants on” and “Tell your legs to man up and grow a pair”. I smiled and went a little faster, even though I could feel my legs caving.

The last bit of the hill ended at a stop light, where we turned right onto a cobblestone street. Seriously, cobblestone?! By now I had almost tripped several times during the race due to the lack of eyesight in my left eye, so I was afraid of falling. Oh, and my legs were jello by now. BUT I knew I was so close to finishing and that I was cutting it REALLY close on the two-hour barrier. So I let my legs loose and repeated “Don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip” down and around Gold Fish Point. I shot a quick glance at my watch when I saw the finish line up ahead and saw I had exactly one minute to get there. Oh man.

Somehow, from somewhere deep inside of me, I found the juice to pick up my pace again. And thankfully the three guys in front of me left enough space on the inside of the curve so I could squeeze across the line at 1:59:57. I have rarely felt so accomplished at the completion of an individual physical event. And yet I have rarely felt so much pain so deep inside my bones. After grabbing ice for my hips and finding X, we checked my times, took some pictures and then walked home. S-l-o-w-l-y. It was nice to have a mini support team there, or else I probably would’ve just laid in the grass at the park for several hours and tightened up even more. Luckily, since I’d spent the night, I had my glasses to throw on so I could drive home safely after a quick shower and trip to the Hillcrest farmer’s market for lunch!

To sum up the experience, it was as brutal as I expected but also more rewarding than I had anticipated. My time was about 2.5 minutes slower than my time in Carlsbad in January, but that course was completely flat. To me, that means I was actually running at a faster pace and stronger than I ran there, which is exciting! However, I am happy to have a break from training and plan to take two full weeks off of running. My next event will be a fun 5K in May and I then I just have a few short races this summer. That is, until the last of this series of half marathons which will be at the end of August. I literally don’t even want to think about that now, or until like June.

Thanks for reading this long and overly detailed recount of my race this morning and have a great week everyone!

**Update: Official results are up and I was 1685 out of 5369 finishers. My pace was 9:09 and I was the 483 female to cross the line out of 2686. For my age group (24-29) I finished 92 out of 457. Not too shabby!**

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Liz @ ourbusybee(s)
    Apr 28, 2013 @ 20:36:43

    Point-to-point is so tough. I did my first point-to-point 10-miler last weekend, and by the time the race was ready to start, my spirit was already broken, ha ha. You did great today, especially given all the obstacles! I don’t know that I could have run half blind…I mean, I would have because what other choice do you have, but still! Amazing!

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  2. Liz @ ourbusybee(s)
    Apr 28, 2013 @ 20:37:18

    Also, by the time I am finished with halves, I am like, “why the heck did I sign up for a full?”

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