I ran the San Diego Women’s Half Marathon this morning and I’m a grab bag of emotions when it comes to how I did. I was set on running a sub-1:40 race and yet my final time came in at 1:40:44. It’s frustrating to know I was that close, and I keep re-running the race in my head trying to pinpoint exactly what I could have done differently.
At the same time, I PR’d by 3:35 minutes and ran about 15 minutes faster than I did a few weeks ago at the Surf City Half Marathon. Additionally, I almost puked during the last 100m, which leads me to believe I gave the race all I had to give—and that’s a good thing.
The race started at 6:30 AM, so I was up at 5:00 AM. It always amazes me that waking up at 9:00 AM on a weekend is a struggle, yet if I have a race I’m up, awake and energetic before the sun rises. The race logistics and size were wonderful—parking was easy, bathroom lines were manageable and with approximately 1,200 – 1,500 runners, the race succeeded in having that crowd atmosphere but without the uncomfortable cramped crowd feel.
The first mile breezed by in 7:48. The view was breathtaking—we ran along the harbor immediately after sunrise began. The San Diego skyline was cloaked in a charcoal color, with a bright pink and orange medley in the sky behind it, and a scattering of shadowed boats in front of it. I always forget San Diego is a city and not simply a string of beach towns.
Miles two through six went as follows: 7:42, 7:32, 7:47, 7:37, 7:51. Six miles in and I had decent splits. I tend to psych myself out if I look at my watch too much, so I glanced only occasionally to make sure I was running under a 7:50 pace and then focused on pacing myself off other runners. Two women ahead of me were booking it, so I simply tried to stay within 10m – 30m of them. This plan backfired. At mile six I looked at my watch because it felt like things were slowing down and realized I was running a 7:55 pace—that wasn’t going cut if I wanted to break 1:40. It seems the women I was pacing off of had started out too fast and were now slowing down.
I kicked things up a notch and started pacing myself—and that’s when the race really started.
Approximately half way completed and instead of being able to rely on my legs moving like well-engineered automatous machines, I was having to consciously pick up each foot and move it forward. Miles seven through ten went as follows: 7:46, 7:42, 7:35, 7:40.
At ten miles, I realized I had been wrong before—this is when the race really started.
With 3.1 miles to go I realized I was cutting it way too close if I wanted a sub-1:40. Not only was I fatiguing rapidly, but I needed to pick up the pace quite a bit. I started running with my whole body in an attempt to make up for my deteriorating legs. I could feel my face muscles go from fierce determination, to slack pale desperation. I ran those last three miles at: 7:28, 7:42, 7:09.
During the final stretch of the race I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal, but I just kept sprinting, as if somehow the numbers would change. I came mighty close to puking twice in those last 100m, but luckily, I was able to suppress it and keep my dignity intact.
Post-race I had a couple chocolate chip cookies to celebrate and make myself feel better. I’m hoping to drink some Bloody Marys soon.
In hindsight, I think my biggest mistake was not being more aggressive the first half of the race. Sometimes, I worry I will start out too fast and jeopardize the whole race (which I’ve done), but I think today if I had upped the pace slightly during the first six miles I might have hit my goal. Oh well, I’m still mighty proud of myself!