“B.” Everything about this race was a solid “B.” I guess most people would be pleased with this, but when you’re raised in a family where your dad responds to your straight-A report card except for one A- with “We have to work on your math,” then you know ”B” – while good — is also a bit of a bummer.
My goals for this race were the following:
A – A new PR (sub 1:57:57)
B – 1:58-2:03
C – 2:04-2:09
As you guessed, I reached my B-goal. My finishing time was 2:00:29, my third fastest half marathon time, and right in between my 2013 and 2014 race times for this course.
In trying to figure out why I didn’t reach my A-goal, I would assign about 75% blame on tired legs and 25% to it just not being my day. Of course, I’m not opposed to placing the entirety of the blame on my choosing to use my good luck stash on jury duty rather than the race (see previous post about Chinese Year of the Goat/Sheep).
At first I was confused because in looking at my running journal from last year, I noticed that the week before last year’s race, I had also run a 45 mile week, including a 20-miler, but was able to still pull out a sub-2:00 at last year’s race. Why was this year different? Well, I had forgotten that there have been a couple major changes to this year’s training plan from last year’s: the addition of the 20+ long run and the marathon pace miles in my long runs. Even though the 20+ miler was only an additional two miles, my FMC was wary enough to have me move it to earlier in my schedule, so I’d have enough time to recover for my marathon. Meanwhile, adding the MP miles have certainly cranked up the intensity of my long runs. Even though I had done a 20-mile run the week before last year’s race, I didn’t do 11 of them at between my half marathon and marathon paces. In looking ahead, I will basically be running another half marathon next week within my long run. Fun.
This would explain the fatigue and why early on (mile 3), I knew it just wasn’t going to be my day. My legs felt like jelly, and I was having trouble breathing. Boarding the struggle bus at mile 3 is no bueno. Knowing I wasn’t going to PR and that this was in some ways a glorified training run, there were a couple times during the race when I just thought “Fuck it, I’ll be better off going home and getting a 20-miler in than finishing this.” But, I had paid my fee and wanted my damn medal. More importantly, I wanted to test myself. A marathon is not going to be easy, and pushing through when you are physically and mentally struggling, is good practice.
The course is fairly flat but has these up and back hairpin turns that make it look like an insect. Not particularly scenic.
The pre-race aesthetic is much more interesting than during the race itself. The start is at Hollywood Blvd. and Highland, and milling about the start area, you’ll see Grauman’s Chinese Theater, along with other cool structures, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame (I saw Gwyneth’s star!). The race expo is held at the Hollywood Palladium.
Anyway, back to the race. Even though my times were right where I wanted them to be for the first five miles — 9:23; 9:07; 9:02; 9:20; 9:39 – like I said, it was just an effort. I even had to take a gel one mile earlier than expected. I perked up after that and ran my fastest two miles at 8:23 and 8:33 but the initial gel-rush wore off, and I slowed back down. At this point, I knew I’d have to really push it to get that PR, and I just didn’t have it in me. The next miles were 9:33; 9:27; 8:59; and 9:27. With about two miles to go, and my legs getting heavier and heavier, I was reduced to shuffling. And then came the cramps. I hadn’t cramped in a race in a long time thanks to Hammer Endurolytes, but I had only taken half the dose at my last stop because I couldn’t get the pill out of my belt. Shouldn’t matter, right? Eeks. I tried to run it in strong at the end, but if I tried to exert any extra effort or elongate my stride, my legs would seize up. I think I hobbled across the finish line. Last two miles 9:11 and 9:39.
So a bit of a bummer that I didn’t get a new PR, but considering the fatigue, cramps and mind-fuck, I still managed to almost go sub-2:00. Usually when I feel this shitty, my race time will be in the 2:10-2:14 range, so it’s nice that shitty has moved up a bit. I don’t think of myself as particularly mentally strong, so I am especially pleased that I pushed through and grinded it out. I fought for this one.
The Hollywood Half also pointed out some areas that need improvement. Even though my food has cleaned up quite a bit (I think I’m going on three weeks off sugar and white flour), my nutrition around working out is not very good. OK, it’s apathetic at best, dangerous at worst. Here’s the thing…in the last year, I have picked up the habit of generally not eating before races or long runs. I forced myself to have a third of a Clif Bar yesterday pre-race. I also don’t drink enough water (4 glasses a day?). I am getting better at post-run nutrition, but yeah, cramping again at mile 12, demonstrated to me that I can’t afford to be so cavalier about my fueling.
I also have to strive for holding a steadier pace. There are full minute swings in my paces, and I want to run a fairly even-paced race at Mountains2Beach. I’ve been negligent about my MP miles in that so long as they stayed under 9:55, I didn’t care. I don’t want to be more of a slave to my Garmin than I already am, but I need to zone in on what 9:45-9:55 feels like. Dicking around with my pacing could make for a painful last ten miles at the marathon if I don’t address that pronto.
Oh, and the miscellaneous stuff. I like the black t-shirt this year, and the virtual goodie bag actually has something I’d use – 40% off compression apparel from Pro Compression. This race has super easy access to and from via the Metro (yes, LA has one). Water stops were good, and there were bathrooms along the way. I think the only thing that doesn’t make this a great race is the kind of blah course and those bizarre turns. A better way to see Hollywood is running the LA Marathon.
So the 2015 Hollywood Half is in the books. Only six weeks until marathon day. Here.We.Go!!
Hollywood Half Marathon (4/11/15)
Age Group (45-49): 25