Looks like I’m Queen of the B-Goal. So close to the A-Goal though. Argh.*
If you’ve been following my blog these past four months, then you know my training has been quite different for this race. In fact, it’s difficult to characterize what I’ve been doing as specifically training for the Surf City Half since I had no plan or schedule other than rehab, prehab, strength train, speed…and then fit in my junk miles and one long run when I could. So physically my preparation for this race was unusual in that, other than the long run, getting the miles in were not the priority.
But almost just as unusual as my physical training was my mental state before and during this race. I knew one-two weeks before the race that it was going to be warm, around 72 degrees during the race and about 82 for the day. Now usually I checkity-check-check the weather app the entire week-of, and while I did do a couple random checks early in the week, I then stopped. Didn’t even look at the weather forecast the day before or the day of the race. I figured that whatever the weather was going to be was entirely out of my control, and I didn’t want to give it any headspace or worse, give myself reason to accept a slower time. Just didn’t want to go there.
Everything went as planned race morning, and I arrived at the parking lot with plenty of time to spare. Well, almost. I walked past the start line and had to double back, which means I didn’t have the chance (or room really – this is a popular race) to get in the warm-up I’m used to. Whatever. I jumped into the 1:55 pace group, and off we went!
The two pacers got us out pretty quick, and we were doing 8:45-8:30 pace through miles 1-6. At first it felt too quick, but I never felt like it was killing me to keep up with them, and once I settled in and had the one real uphill behind me (miles 3-5), I settled in very easily to an 8:40ish pace. Around mile 6, I went ahead of the pace group because I was feeling strong, and things were going well until I started feeling the twinge in my calf around mile 8-9, which developed into cramping at mile 10. As you can see by my paces, it dropped off by about 15-20 seconds the last three miles including one 9:25 mile (my slowest – what?!): 8:44, 8:31, 8:40, 8:47, 8:32, 8:32, 8:38, 8:52, 8:32, 8:52, 9:25, 9:02, 9:04, 8:53.
And this brings me to the other moment that my new mindset revealed itself: Mile 10 when I started to cramp in my calves. (Yes, it turns out weather was an issue!) I thought I had downed enough water during the week, had slathered topical magnesium on my legs, and I had taken my electrolyte pills before and during the race, but the last five miles of this race go directly into the sun, and like I said, it was a warm day. So when I started feeling the twinges in my calf, I looked at my watch and thought “Well, it was a fast 10 miles. I’ll still probably get a course PR [sub-2:04].” Like I was just going to shut it down and walk/run or 75-80% it. But something inside me wanted to kill this race. I mean, who knew when I’d get out to this fast a start again? (At the time I was on pace for a fairly comfortable sub-1:55.) So I kept at it, just grinding it out, adjusting my stride back to an almost heel strike to not put too much pressure on my calves. And even when I got a couple “good” seize-ups where I had to actually pull over for a sec, and just wanted to walk it in, I heard my trainer’s voice. See, there have been times in my training where I’ve said to him “[this body part] is a little [achy/sore],” and he’s told me in one way or another to “Deal with it.” (Note, he seems to also know when I really need a break.) So…I dealt with it. It wasn’t the most comfortable last three miles but it still wasn’t awful either. I just had to want it.
I hung in there and saw my pace group catch me and eventually pass me. Then this adorable 20-something year old girl pulled up next to me and said “We got this!” It gave me just enough of a lift, and we grabbed each other’s hands in solidarity for a moment. As she passed me, I saw that she had written in marker on her back “5’2” and faster than you” – so awesome for this fellow shorty to see. She was just a bright spirit as she weaved her way ahead of me, and I saw her catch some dude who was struggling a little and she encouraged him with a “C’mon big guy, I’ve been chasing you all race. Let’s go.” And he groaned and picked up the pace. What an inspirational little angel. Anyway, I held on and shuffled across that finish line with a new PR! For three years that thing wouldn’t budge, but Sunday it finally moved in the right direction. Yay!
On the way back my calf entirely seized up into a hella charley horse that had me open-mouthed and, wow, that thing hurt. It’s still tender, so I’m not running for a few days, and I really hope it’s just a few days as I’m eager to really get back at it.
Late last year I started writing out my goals once I started working with Trainer. I knew I was taking a step back because not only was I going to put off marathon training until June of next year (i.e., forego the Mountains2Beach full), I was also switching to a new footstrike and I anticipated some adjustment. My initial goal for this race was that I’d finish the race on a midfoot strike. Then when I saw my training times, I adjusted to a sub-2:00 goal with the hopes of PRing in April at the Hollywood Half. But now, I’ve PRd a race early, and will be adjusting my goals for a third time. What a bizarre experiment this has been. Looks like getting injured after the Ventura full may have been the best thing that’s happened to my running in a while.
Hope everyone is having a great running week! And good luck to anyone running LA this Sunday!!
Official Time 1:55:59
*Goals were A: sub-1:55; B: sub-1:57:57 (new PR); C: sub-2:00.