It’s like they KNEW when they named this inaugural San Diego Half Marathon that is was going to be a spectacular day! The Celebration Run Half Marathon and 10K was just wonderful in every way.
It’s been a tough year for me running-wise. By no means have I stopped running, but I have found myself frustrated, defeated and just not my successful runner-self for the past 2 years so it’s been pretty choppy for me. Competing with your old self is such a dangerous habit, especially when you get off track and just can’t hit the paces you used to. I can write all day and tell people all day to “run for the love of it” but when you’re minutes per mile off your old PR paces, it’s hard. I haven’t had a race that I’ve been really proud of since January of 2012 when I set my Half Marathon PR in Carlsbad.
It’s taken me a long time, but I think I’ve finally broke myself of competing with that girl and now I’m just running against the girl I was yesterday. And it’s been so much more fun! I think I still have distorted expectations, but I can tell you that truly for the first time in years, I’m really proud of the race I ran yesterday. I was 7 minutes off my PR, but I ran strong, with smiles, a negative split and with ease. Pfew! Here a few of the details of how it went down…but in short, add the Celebration Run to your 2015 race calendar — it’s just fantastic!
How I prepared for the Celebration Run half marathon
For starters, I prepared! Woot! There’s an idea for running success – right?! Good races rarely happen by accident and require a bit of planning and preparation. Here are the things I think I did that really helped:
- I really trained for like 7 weeks. I was super dedicated and followed the Gals Who Run Half Marathon Training Guide. I got in speed work, tempo runs, long runs and recovery runs. I didn’t run more than 4 days and averaged about 30 miles per week.
- I took taper seriously. I don’t know why this is so hard. You should have heard the week I had planned before coach Sheri gave me her two cents and cut me back to nothing but a little light speed work on Tuesday and some easy cross training. I had to fight with her about my 30 min shake out run on Saturday — but I’m glad I took her advice.
- I didn’t drink booze for over a MONTH before the race. 41 days to be exact. This was for a lot of reasons (I should write a post about that entirely) but I think it played a huge role in stronger training runs and an overall better/cleaner mindset.
- Sleep the night before is important, but sleep 2 nights before is even more important. I also didn’t do this on purpose, but I was so exhausted after my Thursday/Friday meetings that I passed out at 7pm on Friday night and then slept until 7am Saturday morning.
- I had runner gear I LOVED! Brand new shoes and socks. My favorite race pants and Boston visor. Awesome headphones, a new playlist and the new Gals Who Run tanks were a bonus for sure!
Now the serious questions…how did I fuel?
I know how important this is, but my diet has changed so much in the past years that I don’t have a standard anymore so this is still a work in progress for me:
- I did have a steak Thursday night, 3 days prior to race day (something I decided a few years ago was a good idea. It’s probably in my head, but I’m sticking by this).
- Friday night was a fail. I came home tired, baked some gluten free cookies (yes, I’m aware they are not any better for me because they are gluten free) and stuffed them down with some coconut milk and passed out.
- Saturday morning I had happy, high protein breakfast that Chef Jimmy cooked up. Eggs, sausage, veggies and hash browns.
- Saturday night…I can’t explain why…but I ended up having 3x avocado and English Muffins. It was just so good, but also 100% of my fiber, not always a good plan.
- All day I focused on drinking tons and tons of water to fight off a headache I’d had for 3 days.
- Race morning, as always, a peanut butter power bar (240 calories of straight up sugar) and one vanilla power gel on the course along with some drip drop hydration fluid.
What went down on Race Day
Race day is always a crap shoot! You can prepare all you want, but how you feel on race day is unknown until it happens. So I woke up and as Jimmy drove me to the start line, I wasn’t even sure I felt like running 13.1 miles at all. I said to him, “I just hope to run with ease.” After my sedentary and exhausting week, it felt like a lot of work and I wasn’t sure I was up for it. Ha! But when I got to the start line, that all changed.
Everybody was there all pumped up and ready to run! I had so many great friends running in this race and then equally, if not more amazing friends that pulled themselves out of bed to come support and cheer on the runners at the best aid station. The race start/finish areas are super easy and it was all so relaxed! I got my bib, gear check was easy, no long lines for bathroom. Enough time for a few fun pics and we were off!
I started way in the front, which was kind of a stupid strategy. I did it because my friends Natalie, Chris and Ben were up there because they were all planning on running sub 7 pace. I was aiming for 8 even or at the very least under 8:25. But I felt like chatting with them till the bitter end so there I was when the gun went off. I was passed like crazy for the first .5 mile, which was totally to be expected, but it’s still deflating and makes you feel slow no matter what. It’s not a crowded race, so I wasn’t in the way too much and obviously, nobody was in my way. If this had been a large event, I would have most certainly lined up with my proper pace group to be respectful of the speedy folks. I caught my pace, ran 8:01 and 8:03 out of the gate and settled into a 7:48 that just wouldn’t quit! One after another…they just kept coming it was so fun! I never slowed down, never felt bad, and smiled the whole damn time.
How is the course for the Celebration Run?
The course is great! Pretty flat, a few mild hills as you run over the bridges around the bay. A lot of water front scenery. And a lot of out and back, which I love! I love seeing the fast people on the way out and the folks behind you on the way back in. It’s motivating to me in each direction. Aid stations were great — seriously, it was just perfect. The finish line is on the sand though, so the last 50 feet are soft sand. It’s not long, but it’s enough to make a final sprint to the finish nearly impossible.
So with a goal of 1:45, my official time is 1:44:35 but because the course has so many out and backs, tiny loops and such, it was actually about about a quarter mile off (I confirmed with with other GPS runners). It always happens, but it’s fun to mention because technically I ran 1:42…ha ha
And the winner of the Celebration Run is…
Yes, that’s right folks. My friend Natalie WON the race! I saw her on the out and back and she looked FAST! And serious and she clobbered the course setting a course and personal record that day. She literally got to break the tape and cruised out of there with tones of first place lady swag! Who gets to say they did that? I don’t even know why I checked my official results, but I’m glad I did because somehow I eeked out a 3rd place age group finish. While I’ve run several faster half marathons, I’ve never age group placed, so that was kind-of-super-cool.
What’s next for this Gal Who Runs?
Well I’ll tell you it’s nice to be running happy, strong and confident again! I’ll be taking it easy this week and next for Thanksgiving. In December I’ll start training for the Carlsbad Half Marathon, which will be hard because I have fast finishes there the last two times I ran (2012 and 2011)…but again…I’m not competing with her anymore. Just the runner I was yesterday. Kate (my runner sole-mate) and I have decided to run the LA marathon in March. I’d love to pull a So Cal Ragnar team together again. So there will be races and there will be fun!
What’s on your 2015 race calendar?