Today I ran the Inaugural Safari Park Half Marathon. This park in San Diego is more commonly known by it's former name, the Wild Animal Park, and is owned by the San Diego Zoo. I was excited about this race, as some of the route was through the park itself. However, as recently as a few days ago, I wasn't even sure I'd be doing it.
I have been suffering from plantar fasciitis for a long time now. Usually I just have heel pain first thing in the morning (I hobble out of bed each day!) but the pain is always gone by the time I get into the shower. This past week I've been in an immense amount of pain. I wasn't even able to run this week, due to the severity of the pain and the fact that it was lasting most of the day. I've been icing and stretching all week, hoping to aggressively treat it. On Thursday I bought a Strassburg sock, and have worn it for the past few nights. My first plan was that if I didn't feel like I could run the race, I would drop down to the adjunctive 5K Walk. But then I nixed that: I don't do 5ks. So I decided I would at least start the half marathon, and if I was in terrible pain I would walk to the next aid station and take a DNF (did not finish). At least, if I had to quit, I would have tried.
I woke up early this morning NOT in the mood to run. Last night I was at silent auction/gala for my son's Educational Foundation...I was on the planning committee and am exhausted by all the work leading up to the gala. I didn't get to bed until around midnight, and set my clock for 5:00, which was really 4:00 (given that today was daylight savings!) So I was utterly exhauted. But my feet didn't hurt! I really think those Strassburg socks helped! I got dressed and drove to the Safari Park. Luckily I had everything packed and ready yesterday afternoon, since I knew I was going to be out late last night, and just had to grab my fuel belt and go.
I left myself plenty of time to get to the race, as was advised, and I'm glad I did: I sat in traffic forever! The winding one-lane road leading into the Park was packed! But I got a parking space with lots of time to spare, and walked up to the main area. Amazing enough, I ran into my good running/ triathlon friend, and soon after that ran into new friends from dailymile (I had met them for the first time yesterday a quick meet-up at the packet pickup). The race finally started with an elephant's roar instead of a gun, and we were off!
Most of the course took us around the perimeter outside of Park. It was a gorgeous day to run; cool, mostly overcast, breezy. A runner's dream. We started down San Pasqual Valley Road, and were soon in some neighborhoods. I ran into an acquaintance of mine; her daughter was in A's preschool class last year. She and I ran a few miles together, and it was great to catch up with her. Soon, though, I was ready for a walk break and let her go on ahead.
The course soon had some killer hills and I was walking more than I'd wanted. My calfs were getting tight, so the uphills hurt. As my goal was to simply finish the race, I didn't really care about the time. I was happy that my feet weren't hurting! Still, I tried to walk as little as possible. I always try to do my best. After we crested a big hill, it was a run downhill into the Park itself. I was very excited and took my camera out of my pack.
I needn't have been so excited. Although we ran through part of the park, I didn't see any animals! None! We did get to run through the cheetah run, which was fun. We ran through a corral with signs that had a cheetah on it saying "Speed Limit 70 MPH". Soon enough, we were out of the Park again, and back to the perimeter. Finally, around mile 12 we were back in the park and I saw my first (and only) animals: a mother and baby rhino. Just a final push, and soon I crossed the finish line.
This was the inaugural year of this race, and it had a lot of hiccups. I wasn't thrilled that the snacks were quite a walk from the finish line---I wanted a banana NOW! They also had a line set up to take a special, commemorative photo with your medal---that you could later purchase at the Park's exit. As I didn't have any money on me--who carries cash during a half marathon?--I passed on that. And I later heard that many people who had paid their entrance fee didn't even get to race, as the traffic snarl in the morning prevented them from getting to the Park before the road closures. I sure was glad I left when I did!
My final time was less than two minutes more than the personal record I set a few weeks ago at the Carlsbad Half. I was very proud of myself: I pushed through, finished the race pain-free, and set a great time. Next up on the race docket is a triathlon: the SuperSeal triathlon in two weeks. I plan on continuing my treatment for the plantar fasciitis and hopefully will improve even more.