Shorter stride, faster cadence. That’s what I was telling myself as I was struggling to grasp a rhythmic movement. The leading ladies were spread out relatively far apart by mile 2 and I was having a hard time keeping any them in sight. Breathing heavily, from the ups and downs that were already run in the course, I tried to relax into the long climb ahead. This race was again going to be about effort, but I didn’t want to fall away from fourth female.
The San Diego edition of this race starts downtown on a hill, then takes you through a winding course among some neighborhoods and parks full of elevation change, and then throws you back downtown, where for the last .3 miles you finally get to remember what it feels like to run level.
Yeah, it’s a really fun course. But taking it back to mile 2, I could hear the 5th female coming up beside me. I immediately recognized her from a half marathon last April when I chased her down to try to take second place, but hesitated for too long and she beat me by 33 hundredths of a second. I couldn’t let her overtake me, but we weren’t very far into the race and I didn’t want to pull away and waste energy that I knew I needed later. She stayed with me for another mile and then let me lead by mile 4.
But she was right behind me, and coming from behind in a race gives you the advantage at the end (if you’re willing). Mentally, I was exhausted from racing. I didn’t want to do it. I was tired for several reasons, but as much as I love racing, it’s HARD and all I wanted to do was sleep.
What I wanted and what I didn’t want weren’t lining up, so I had to choose. I didn’t want to give up and just run the rest of the way. However, I knew that if she remained close enough behind me, she could attack and I didn’t feel like I had it in me to counter that move. My best option was to slowly pull away and try to create a gap big enough that would discourage her from making a move at the finish.
It was working, but we were about to go on a nice size downhill and then immediately up up UP. This was my third year doing the course so I knew what was about to happen. She caught up to me at the bottom of the downhill and then I dropped her hard on the uphill. My legs recovered, and I continued to increase the gap with just two miles left. I felt like I had her, but I really needed to push the downhill finish. I threw myself down the 9th mile in 6:02 and demanded more from my lungs for the last .3 for a strong finish.
Forty-five seconds ahead – it was enough.
I had hoped for a sub 60-minute and a podium finish. I didn’t get either, but I got more experience racing and a really good workout. Right now, those latter things are much more important. Since moving to Utah and recovering from injury, I haven’t been able to find a good training groove. It will come, but I need a little more time. My lungs continue to be what’s lagging behind. For the most part, my legs felt great with all of the ups and downs on the course. My cadence was better this race at 182 steps per minute. I got to see more running friends and walked away with a bowl of chocolate. What do I have to complain about?
Time – 1:00:54
Overall – 15th of 3665
Female – 4th of 2588
Age group – 2nd of 320