The San Diego Half Marathon brings out lots of competition and presents a fun event. It’s a relatively flat course for 8 miles and then a HUGE hill followed by a downhill fast finish. Not only was I excited to come back for my third whack at it, I also knew a lot of my old track club teammates would be there. Plus, I was hopeful in trying to snag a little PR since I had been able to run more regularly (though I’m still not on a good cycle yet).
Sleeping the night before in the hotel was a real challenge due to outside noise, but really the night before isn’t the issue – it’s the week or two before that you need to focus on getting good sleep. I didn’t have a problem getting out the door though when it was time to go, and pre-race “festivities” went fairly well. Nerves weren’t a thing, it was just excitement to race and race hard. My time goal was 1:21:56. I truly felt that if everything went perfect I had that in me.
Everything did not go perfectly. Starting off, my breathing felt way more labored than it should, and trying to keep up with the 1:25 pacer was a struggle. I don’t know why, but my lungs were so tired. My legs, however, felt pretty good. My watched buzzed at every mile, but I chose to ignore it and weigh how I was feeling against how many miles I had left. By mile 5, my time goal was well out of stride and I was struggling, but I was still within 10 yards of the 1:25 pace group. There was a girl that kept leap frogging with me and I decided I was going to beat her. She was hanging with the pace group, but huffing and puffing too. At mile 7, I watched them fade away in front of me as I realized my right toenail was going to disappear as well (hashtag, it’s the little things). EVERY. TIME. I forget to cut my toenails. That girl was able to hang on better than I was until…
The timing mat at 8.2 had me chipped at a 6:22 pace, just before the hill started. Of course, it slows you down, but I definitely underestimated it. It brought me to my slowest split of 7:37. It also brought me closer to that girl that had now fallen off the pace group. After cresting the hill, I slowly starting closing the gap between her and I. Another runner (male) came up alongside me and recognized me from Instagram. With a few encouraging words, he gave me a boost to chase her down. I caught up to her just before the decline and passed her, but realized that when the course flattened out just before the finish, she would probably catch back up to me. She did. We were both spent. But it wasn’t about fitness, strength, or speed anymore – it was about mind games. I knew my best shot at beating her was to attack right then. We had two-tenths of a mile left, but I darted away in a burst of speed, slowing down just a few seconds later, but banking on momentum carrying me through the finish ahead of her. It worked. I finished five seconds ahead.
I raced hard, and I am happy with that. My last two miles were back down to 6:21 and 6:23. I know I got good physical benefits from the day. I’m disappointed that my time was so much slower than my goal, but disappointing races are starting to get less and less disappointing. It’s not what I wanted, but it was a good effort. I can be patient for the work to pay off. There will be more opportunities to to prove myself. For now, I’m happy to keep racing and gaining.
Time – 1:27:04
66th 5816 overall
12th of 3155 female
3rd of 494 in age group