Thrive Half Marathon Race Recap
When I signed up for the Thrive Half Marathon a few months ago, it was intended to be my goal race. I’m never sure what the weather will be like at Long Beach, so I wanted to have an option a few weeks later to test fitness again and chase my half marathon goal. It was advertised as very flat and fast after that. Perfect. I’d done hill training in the beginning of this season, but my lack of endurance and strength made hills much more challenging for me. I wanted a flat course to really test my speed.
It was a busy weekend and I was getting anxiety about going for a PR because I just knew I was already worn out from everything that has been going on the last several weeks. When I talked to my coach, I told her I didn’t care about the results on Sunday. I knew that this training cycle, I’d made some huge sacrifices with my running and had worn myself thin. My goal was to run another sub 1:30 and be done with it. I didn’t like saying “I don’t care” because that’s really not my nature, but it took some pressure off myself and allowed me to just live and be ok with whatever went down.
My younger sister’s bridal shower was on Saturday and I went to that prior to our drive down to San Diego. Here’s some pics - so pretty and sooooo not my style. I am a completely nontraditional, hate being the center of attention, we probably should’ve eloped type. But my sister looks beautiful and I’m so happy for her to be doing the big wedding thing and all the traditional stuff. It’s making my parents happy :)
Ricky came and picked me up from the shower and we headed down to San Diego. We were making good time, so I was able to make it to the Road Runner Sport in time to get my bib. We then drove the course. While the race is advertised as flat and fast, there was no elevation chart online and I wanted to know what I was getting myself into. It starts in Kearney Mesa area and looks like it would just drop to sea level and get flat. Well, right at mile 1.5, you take a sharp right into an uphill. And its a really decent hill. There’s also a serious drop downhill (like almost straight down) at mile 4 before you get onto Friar’s Road. You stay on Friar’s Road from mile 4.5 through mile 10ish. That’s a huge straightaway, and no it is not flat. There’s some decent rollers that take you over freeways and all that. Once we made it to the finish area, we kept going north to La Jolla where we were staying.
Welp. Driving the course didn’t make me feel any more or less confident in what was going to happen. I knew I needed to be conservative on the uphills and wasn’t sure how to take the downhill. It was going to rip up my quads, but slowing down would tear up my hips and I still had 9 miles left after that.
I got up around 4:30 the next day and made my oatmeal (which I had to eat with a coffee stir stick because I couldn’t find the spoon I snagged at Trader Joe’s) and laid in bed for a bit while Ricky slept. I woke him up at 5:15 with the plan to leave at 5:45, which actually means leaving at 6 because I am never ready at the time we set. We drove over to the start and found a spot pretty quickly. I ran into my athlete Natalie right away. She was still getting ready so I told her to meet me in the front near the start just before. I went to the restroom inside the YMCA and then jogged around the building a couple times, did some strides, and then went back into the restroom just once more before making my way to the start. I saw Natalie and then my other athlete, Debra! Yah! We were all together. Both Natalie and Debra were gunning for a sub 1:30.
We told each other good luck and then we took off. The course goes almost immediately into a sharp right turn, so I just eased into things, and then there’s some decent downhill. I kept checking and was holding around 6:25. We passed the first mile marker and my watch didn’t go off for at least a hundred meters. I kept hoping they would sync up. We made our way into a downhill and I saw the turn into the massive uphill. I was ready for it. I focused on my effort, didn’t look at my watch, and just kept chugging. Some people rock it up hills, others slow (this is me) so I try not to focus on people passing me and just focus on me. I pushed through the top of the hill and we got some relief into a downhill. I saw the massive downhill up ahead and just remembered the one time I ran a Revel race and the best advice I got was not to fight it - fall into it and don’t lean back.
Mile 1- 4 Splits: 6:27, 6:41, 6:29, 6:06 (downhill)
Once we got through the downhill, we made our way onto Friar’s Road for the straight trek to the finish. The mile markers still weren’t lining up with my watch and I was fearful that the course would be short. There was a woman I passed on the downhill who caught back up to me around mile 6. Every downhill I got in front of her and then she would come back up on me on the flats. I needed someone to run with at this point, so I stayed with her for mile 7. She faded back a bit, so I kept cruising. I never looked at my watch again after the downhill at mile 4. I didn’t want to waste any more energy checking my pace.
Mile 5-8 Splits: 6:35, 6:39, 6:42, 6:59
At mile 9 there’s an aid station and a train track crossing that eases into a downhill before you make your way towards the bay. I made my way up to the last person I could see in front of me, this guy in a green shirt, and I ran with him. I just told myself to stay with him, keep the pace, don’t lose him. He ran with me through mile 11 before I started to fade hard. At this point, the mile markers were still so far behind my mile splits on my watch that I knew there was less than 2 miles to go and the course would be short. Mentally, I felt defeated. I thought back to all of the things I’ve accomplished over the last couple years in my running and couldn’t understand why I didn’t have more to give. And then I just made excuses. Telling myself that I did have anything left to give to this race or this goal. A very dark time on the course and right about the time that we started to enter the fog of the bay. We curved into the bay and just at mile 12, the woman I’d lost back at mile 8 came up on me and she looked strong. I told her “Great job” in a low whisper because I felt like death as she passed. And then there was the hill. There’s a bridge you have to go over to get to the island before you have to curve back under it and get into the finish. I crawled up the hill. I thought about walking and knew I wouldn’t start again if I did, so I kept going. After the bridge, another woman passed me. I could hear the noise of the finish and knew we were almost there. It was the slowest crawl to the finish I’ve ever experienced.
Mile 9-13 Splits: 6:37, 6:52, 7:07, 7:05, 7:16 (death march)
I waited at the finish because I knew Debra and Natalie were close behind me. Both Debra and Natalie came in under 1:30 which is awesome - both are training for CIM and have had such strong cycles. I can’t wait to see them crush it in a few weeks! I really love seeing athletes in real life and both Debra and Natalie have worked with me since I first got started, so it was extra special to hang with them.
My watch read 12.99 miles and 1:27:31 at the finish. I was bummed because Long Beach ended up being long for me (13.22 miles) and I ended up at 1:29:07 course finish and a Garmin half time of 1:28:26. I averaged the same 6:44 pace at Thrive that I did at Long Beach, so I imagine I was closer to 1:28:30 at Thrive. It sucks when course aren’t accurate and strangely, I’m more willing to accept Long Beach as a 1:29 than accept that I ran a 1:27. What are your thoughts on when a course is long or short? It obviously doesn’t change official results, but mentally knowing what I’m capable of means not taking short course results and sometimes knowing in the back of my mind that I really ran a faster time if the course is long. It seems petty, doesn’t it?
I’m excited to be done racing. Mentally, I’m so tired. Ricky and I get married in 4 weeks and I’ve officially quit my job and will be full time coaching by mid January. The end is in site and I’m so excited to have more time for running - both coaching and my own personal running. I’m going to take some time to get my mental strength back as well as get into strength training to get my body ready to load on more miles. Excited for the next month of life!