Okay gang. I was going to wait to write this until AFTER I’d posted my pre-race reflection but I am so excited with how my race went Sunday we’re going out of order. Deal with it.
As I will mention in a post I have yet to publish, I signed up for this race last year after I ran the inaugural Rock n Roll Pasadena Half. I really like the Rock n Roll races and the Pasadena one last year was beautiful, well organized and on the small side for a Rock n Roll race so immediately after I finished I signed up for this year’s race.
Then I forgot about it and didn’t run all summer and struggled to get back into running. Luckily I remembered that I had this race coming up 3 weeks ago and got to some pretty minimal training. I didn’t blog about it, but I logged most of my workouts on Daily Mile. I had some good runs but truthfully was unsure of what I would be able to do on race day. I have my second round at the bar exam in less than 2 weeks and I only trained for three weeks. Pasadena is moderately hilly and you just never know.
My only goal going into the race was to run faster than last year. Last year’s race was my slowest half marathon ever. I was happy to finish in 2 hours and 20 mins last year but this year I wanted more.
Well, I dug deep and managed to pull out a 2 hr and 7 min and 11 second half marathon! 13 minutes faster than I ran on the same course 1 year ago. Honestly, I didn’t think I had it in me! That timing makes this my second fastest half marathon ever and I am SO EXCITED to 1) be back into running and 2) for future races. I need to dedicate the time but I know I can get so much faster.
I take terrible selfies.
Backing up to Sunday morning: I woke up at 5 am and made my way to Pasadena. While driving there I did the unorthodox and drank a Diet Coke, mostly because I didn’t feel like messing around with my French press this morning. I also snacked on a KIND bar. The race starts and ends at the Rose Bowl and I was able to get there and park easily. I hung out in my car because it was 48 degrees outside until about 30 mins before the race started and did bar exam flash cards. Multitasking: I can do it.
The race was as well organized as last year. I easily popped into the porta potty, dropped my bag and found my way to my corral. The Rock n Roll series is a little corporate-y to me but I love how organized and efficient this race always is.
The race started in waves so I didn’t pass the start line until several minutes after the clock had already started. The course was the same as last year’s race so I knew to expect rolling hills for the first three miles through a pretty residential neighborhood. I felt really good and optimistically tucked in next to the 2:00 pacer because I am moderately delusional. After mile 3 I lost her but I knew keeping up with her would have been a long shot so I wasn’t that upset about it.
After mile 3 we headed down Colorado Blvd into old town Pasadena. I was still feeling really good but I was a bit hungry so I broke into my chews. I ended eating G Series chews in orange flavor by Gatorade and I love them! Gu has never really led me wrong but I saw the chews yesterday. Unlike Shot Blocks which tend to stick to my teeth due to their sheer size, the G series chews are smaller and didn’t stick. I’m a convert. Also, while grabbing in my fuel belt for them I dropped my ipod on the asphalt. Good going, Katherine.
I skipped the first water station but elected to start hydrating after mile 3. Good news! After 2 years of half marathon-ing I’ve perfected the art of drinking water while running. Usually I walk though water stations but I ran though all the water stations until about mile 9. I knew I was cooking with a pretty good and consistent pace throughout the race and was afraid if I stopped to walk for water I would lose my momentum.
I developed a side stitch around mile 5 which I ran though and I was 100% by mile 6. Also, at mile 4 there was an awesome reggae band. They were killer. There was also a drum circle at mile 5. Miles 5-8 are mostly dull out and backs. However, there were some highlights:
- Great T Shirts including one woman wearing a shirt that said “I am only doing this so I can post a photo on facebook”
- Deena Kastor! She ran the half on Sunday! Because the course was out and back I was able to see the elites run by me. Several guys went by and then there she was: Deena! I gave her a HUGE cheer despite my icky side stitch. She is AMAZING. Not only is she a gold medal Olympian but she also won the Chicago Marathon the year they shot Spirit of the Marathon which I’ve watched approximately 50 times. Seeing her was a huge highlight for me.
- I ate two more G Series chew things and managed to NOT drop my ipod this time.
- Enjoyed the perfect weather and ample shade. Life really can’t be that bad when you’re running 13.1 in February and the temperature is almost 70 degrees. It just can’t be.
- I had some slight tummy trouble. Probably need to eat a bit less at work (can you blame me though? I mean I work at Susie Cakes!) and not have a diet coke directly before the race.
- I also thought about how glad I was that I had already signed up for this race. I needed this 13.1 like I’ve never needed 13.1 before and I know I would not have run it if I wasn’t already registered.
By mile 8 we were headed back though Colorado Blvd and down my favorite part of the course from last year…
Still my favorite part of the course.
After this downhill is a pretty crushing uphill. Overall, my body felt great at this point and I knew I was running generally pretty even splits. My it-band felt great and my planter facitus was not acting up. However, I was starting to feel tired and my booty was beginning to get sore. I gave myself permission to walk the uphill and run the downhill on that particular hill. I was glad I did. There is a rolling downhill that lasts for around a mile. After that flattened out I walked thought a water station around maybe mile 10 or 11?
You can tell I ran hard because I look like death.
The only part of the course that I didn’t love is the final 2 miles which go around the golf course next to the Rose Bowl. I found this part of the course boring and trying last year. Last year I walked the majority of mile 10 and 11. I took one short walk break in mile 11 and then told myself when I saw the mile 12 sign I would run without stopping like I did last year. The clock time at the 12 mile sign read “2:00” and I knew if I could put away a 10 min mile I would have a half under my belt that I could really be proud of. My legs were starting turn to jello at this point. My “long runs” for this half were 6, 8, 6, 10 (I did 10 last Monday, less than a week before the race). With the pace I was putting away and the lack of training my little legs felt done at mile 12. However, I had told myself I would not walk and I didn’t. I fought the urge several times and thought about the bar exam, how I didn’t walk last year and the Samoas in my freezer at home and somehow I managed to keep running.
Like last year, mile 13 happened on an uphill (RUDE!) but I could see the finish and I sprinted to the end!
Sprinting to the finish, loving life.
10 miles: 1:35:09
Average pace: 9:43 min/mile
This is my second fastest half marathon ever and I cannot believe I was able to pull this out on a hilly course with three weeks of training. I had negative splits between miles 1-10, but my pace dropped to just over 10 min miles for the final 5k of the race. Whatever. I ran those miles and at this point in my running career that is still a victory to me. Frequently by the final three miles I no longer care about my time and I take many gratuitous walk breaks. I’m going to give myself kudos this time for running the miles. I’m so glad I did! Like I said above, I needed this race. I haven’t blogged about it but I’ve been struggling a little bit and feeling a bit down for the past month. Studying does that to me sometimes. Running is the best medicine for pulling myself out of the negative feelings. The race reminded me how much I love running and racing specifically. It also encouraged me and made me excited about training again. If I put some effort into training I’m sure I can crush 2:00. It is time.
How was I able to pull off this pace on such minimal training? My new neighborhood is very hilly, the final mile of my runs take place on an intense hill. Also, I’ve stopped taking walk breaks in my training runs. I think the anxiety and stress of the bar exam maybe contributed to the pace as well. I didn’t really think about the exam during the run but it has motivated many of my training runs. Oh California Bar Exam. You suck yet are helpful for some things.
Thanks for all the social media support guys! It means the world to me.