Last Sunday I ran the Silver Strand Half Marathon. Truth be told, I had not been planning on running this race. I did it once before, back in 2011, and hated it. First of all, I didn't like how flat and boring the course was. And it was very hot outside. But secondly, I believe that this is where my disc herniated---it was the first time ever I had felt the glute/sciatic nerve pain that I deal with to this day, 4 years later. I think it herniated while running it. So I've always had bad memories of this race, and haven't done it since. But I won a free entry to the race on a contest on my local chapter of Moms Run This Town (MRTT). I couldn't beat the price! Plus, it fit in perfectly with training for my upcoming full marathon, as I was going to run 13 miles that weekend anyway. I might as well run with other runners, aid stations, and get a medal at the end!
Packet pickup was easy-peasy the Friday before the race at Road Runner Sports. I was in and out in 2 minutes flat. I was hoping for a long-sleeved tech shirt, as I got back in 2011, but this year it was short sleeved. Oh well. It was weird getting ready for the race. Even though it was my 25th half marathon (!!!!!) (not counting the 3 half marathons that came at the end of my half-Ironmans) I hadn't run one since June, and was out of practice preparing. The night before, J and I went out to dinner to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, so I definitely didn't prepare well that way---I was up late and had a drink with dinner, something I would normally avoid the night before a big race.
|gorgeous view of the San Diego Bay while on the shuttle. Coronado Bridge in the background|
I got up at 5:15 the next morning (much later than last time, as I'm seeing from my 2011 recap) and was out the door by 5:45. I easily found parking in the Silver Strand State Beach parking lot, made use of the real toilet in the lot (hoping to avoid the port-o-potty line) and was on a shuttle by 6:45 to the start. (As a side note, I purchased a parking pass for $6 to park in this lot, and my pass was never checked. A waste of money). I met up with the MRTT group at 7:00 for a picture, then found a few more friends to chat with before the race started at 7:30. The weather was gorgeous---overcast and cool. I had brought a throw-away jacket to toss at mile 1, but it was nice enough pre-race that I gear checked it to save for another race.
|me and my friend Smitha|
|me and my friend Ruth|
My friend and coach, Steve, had a plan for me for the race. Normally, I run a 2:1 run/walk ratio (run 2 minutes, walk 1). This helps me with my sciatic pain when I have it, and has really kept me running. The last long run I had done, which was 11 miles the week before, he had me do a 1:1 ratio (run 1 minute, walk 1 minute). While I was slower than I'd like to be, it was great---I had finished feeling good. And, my goal for the upcoming marathon isn't so much about a finishing time as it is about finishing strong. For this race, Steve wanted me to do the first 4.5 miles at a 1:1 ratio; the second 4.5 miles at a 2:1 ratio, then the rest of the race (miles 9-13.1) at a 3:1 ratio. He said this would give me a triple negative split (a negative split is running the second half of a race faster than the first half) and have me finish strong.
|pre-race----ready to run 13.1!|
I was wary about this plan, but decided to go for it. So the first several miles, I did a 1:1 ratio. This part is always hard for me. It's hard to walk when I am first starting out---I feel so good and the crowd energy around me makes me want to keep running! But I forced myself to stick to the plan, and even at the start, I did the 1:1 ratio. The first few miles are nice----going through Coronado, passing the Hotel del Coronado (where I got engaged), etc. But soon we entered the Silver Strand (this stretch of land connects the "island" of Coronado to Imperial Beach) where it is pretty much flat, boring and ugly, at least to me. I just kept plugging away, keeping my ratio. Soon the 2:45 pace group passed me, which bummed me out, because I really wanted to finish under that. My usual times are between 2:30-2:40 (with some times more and less than) and I really hoped to finish in 2:40. I wasn't trying to PR, just train, but ideally I didn't want to go over 2:45. But regardless of the time, I wanted a strong race.
|it was like this most of the run. I never even wore my sunglasses!|
At mile 4.5, I changed the alert on my Garmin to do a 2:1 ratio. By this time I felt very warmed up and was doing great! There was a couple, a man and woman, that I kept leapfrogging. They would pass me on my walk breaks and I would pass them on my run segment. They were running consistently without walking and I wanted to get away from them but couldn't at my pace! At about mile 6 I had to go to the bathroom, and was regretting not standing in that long port-o-potty line. I didn't have to go too badly, but by mile 7 that's all I could think about. By this point we were by the State Beach (I could see my car---waaaah!) and in the distance I saw a random port-o-potty, not part of the race. I ran a bit off course and went---and was so glad I did, as I felt better! I did add about 0.1 mile to my race, and wasted about 2 minutes, but it was minutes well spent.
At mile 9 I started the 3:1 ratio. I was nervous---how could I do 3:1 so late in the race? Miraculously, I felt great. Amazing. Strong. In fact, those miles were my fastest. I was flying! I had long passed that couple I leap-frogged with (I later saw them walking), and in the distance I saw the 2:45 pace group. I kept my pace, walked when it was time, but soon I passed those pacers! . I couldn't believe how good I felt. As I wrote earlier, this was my 25th half marathon. In every single one of those other 24 races, I feel awful in the later miles. At miles 9/10 I always feel nauseous and exhausted. I feel like I want to puke, or cry, or die. But this time, for the first time, I felt STRONG at mile 9, and felt strong to the finish!
I ended up finishing in 2:42 and change, which included that bathroom break. I'm confident that I would have finished in 2:40 if I hadn't stopped---but that's ok, I NEEDED to stop. And I accomplished something great---a triple negative split! Each block of 4.5 miles or so was faster than the preceding one. I felt great at the finish!
At the finish line, I found my friend Marianne, and we headed to the shuttle and back to the cars. Very easy. It rained later that afternoon, so I was happy I avoided that---I got the best of both worlds, no rain and cooler/overcast weather. Yay me!
|with Marianne post-race|
Would I do this race again? Well, I had sworn last time that I wouldn't, and here I am again. I will consider it in future years. It IS a well-run, organized event, and a great fall option here in San Diego. Regardless of if I do it again or not, I'm very proud. It wasn't my fastest half marathon ever, but it was definitely my strongest. This bodes well for marathon training!