The course was amazingly pretty. The sun was shining and I really wished I had a better camera than my iPhone in a plastic bag. There was one spot where the hills and roads lined up perfectly enough that I could see almost 2 miles of road- full of runners. I tried to get a picture but its hard to snap while running. 🙂
There were plenty of water stations stocked with water and sports drink. Miles 1-10 were all street and miles 10-12 were on a paved bike path running along the railroad tracks before returning to the street. A little before mile 7, there was even a Cliff Shot zone. There was a big inflatable and tables lined with numerous kinds of Cliff Shots. The only bummer was that I had forgotten about the shot zone on the map so when I could see the inflatable in the distance, I thought it was half marathon turn around. Oops. There was a “cheer zone” filled with people, and live local bands scattered around the course. Around mile 12.5, we ran passed some type of conga drum line which was really cool.
The road leading to the finish line was lined with people and flags with plenty of cheering and cowbells. After being given our medals, we were able to pose for Finisher pictures. The recovery food consisted of bananas, a protein bar, English muffin, small bag of pretzels and a small Jamba Juice. I took one of everything but the bananas (blech) but only managed to eat a small part of the muffin and the Jamba Juice. There was a recovery tent with rollers and ice, and results could be checked in the TekCafe. The awards ceremony started at 10:00 for the elites. Crap, they are fast. About 1:55 into my half, the guy leading the marathon comes ripping past me. It almost looked like his bike escort was having a tough time keeping up with him. There were also awards for the challenged athletes, the military division, and age group awards.
With all that being said, today was not my day. I slept so poorly last night. I tossed and turned, felt like my sheets were itchy and was warring between having a headache because I didn’t think I had hydrated enough and having to run to the bathroom every hour because I had drank too much. My alarm went off and before getting up I checked the Twitter feed for the race. The people that had to be bussed to the starting line were already getting on their buses and I was just waking up. You’d think I’d feel better with that extra sleep, but nope. If anything I felt super nauseous. I skipped the antibiotics this morning because I didn’t want to aggravate that. Loaded up the car and my mom and I were on the way. She was able to drop me off about 3 blocks from the start line just as the marathoners were starting.
Once getting to the start line, I met up with another SLO Ambassador-Heather- and we chatted while waiting to line up in the corrals. I was about 5 people behind the 2:00 pacer as we walked to the starting line. And then we were off.
I lost the 2:00 pacer before the first turn. Well crap. My first mile was a 9:00 mile and I still could not see them. I just kept pushing. I started to get hot so I ripped off my ear warmer headband. I thought about tossing it but ending up running with it in my hand for the rest of the way. There was a small incline up to mile 2 but nothing much, leading up to 3 is where the real hills started. I drove it yesterday so I knew it was coming, I told myself I was running the whole thing. As I was getting to the top, I was thinking that it seemed so much easier than I had thought. Yeah, I wasn’t at the top, it was just like a staircase with landings, I was only 1/3 of the way up. But I managed to run the whole damn hill. Then we were leaving the city streets for the rural area. And more hills. But the view was amazing!
I was somehow managing to not pay too much attention to my watch and was running on effort. That may have been a bad idea. Rounding a corner, it was time to run through the cheer zone before once more going up. I really needed that; I was tired. I ran up until just before mile 7 when I had to take a walk break going up a hill. I told myself one was fine but I was fading. Hit the turn around 7.5 miles. Which meant I was almost at 8. I love mile 8. To me, mile 8 means that no matter what I am finishing that race and there are more miles behind me than in front of me. I checked my watch- 8 miles in 1:20. 6 minutes slower than mile 8 at my last half. I felt like I was pushing so much harder than that, I got a little emotional. Or a lot, I sent a whiny text to my mom about how I was so not breaking 2.
From then on it was like my brain had to admit what my body had been unsuccessfully trying to tell me. It was like it was saying-” I let you run 7 miles straight, but you’re tired and on antibiotics, so slow your roll, you were supposed to take it easy”. Waah. I lost count of how many walk breaks I took over the next 5 miles. I just kept plugging along. Coming up towards mile 12 was a little surprise. If my brain had been processing a little better I should have taken a picture. We had to cross a footbridge to get across the train tracks. But the bridge was built like a parking garage, with 3 levels from the ground to the top, it actually looked really cool with runners on it. I ran the levels going up but had to slow down on the actual bridge. When I did I almost thought I was going to fall; at first I thought I was either more tired than I thought or we were having an earthquake. Then the woman next to me squealed. No earthquake just an extremely bouncy concrete bridge. Concrete should not move like that. We both booked it across after that.
I walked a lot of mile 12. This is also where the speedy marathoners were starting to streak by. Then I was in the home stretch, just under the freeway overpass and up a little baby hill, then it was down hill to the finish. Yeah, I walked right up to the top of that little hill. According to my Garmin, I still had shot to come in under 2:10 so I flew down that finish line. Well I tried to at least. This was also the most crowded finish line I have run across. I crossed the line and stopped the Garmin. I collected my medal, took my finisher shot and then looked at my watch- 2:10:14. So much for flying. I was still hopeful that my chip time would be a little faster. I then tried to find my mom. It was crowded!
We finally met up and I munched on a bit of the recovery food. She took a few pictures as well. I waited to see Heather who was coming out of the food tent. She ran an awesome race and PR’d today. The wind was picking up so we headed back to the car to get my jacket and drop off some of my stuff. On the way there, I realized that the headband I had run almost 10 miles holding was nowhere to be seen. I don’t recall ever dropping it but I can’t remember when I last had it! It was the only all black one I had. 😦
After getting my jacket, we hung out a bit longer. Saw Lisa from Runner in Training cross the finish line- another PR! Watched most of the awards ceremony. I almost had a meltdown when I checked my time in the tech cafe. There were screens set up in the cafe that showed 2 tagboard websites and multiple laptops where you could type in your bib number and get your results. My results showed 2:11:14?!!? While I was spazzing about that waiting to see Lisa finish, her husband pointed out that that could be the gun time and the more official results would be posted later. Oh yeah, gun time, where was my brain?
After a quick lunch at Chipotle, we headed home. It was barely 12:00 but both my mother and I were exhausted. I was a little cold so I made myself comfortable on their deck in a chaise. Feet up, compression socks, a bottle of Nuun and my iPad and I was good. By then my phone had died but I still wanted to post some things. Great plan but I fell asleep instead. It was a nice little siesta. 🙂 I awoke to find that I had given myself a new interesting runners tan/ burn and check the official results. Once I figured out how to read it, it was little better. This is the first time that I have ever had an official time that is slower than what my Garmin says. Has that happened to anyone else?
This was a tough one. There were a lot of hills. That also seemed to a be a popular theme in everyone’s social media posts. Thanks tagboard.com (#raceslo), you made me feel better. Even with it feeling hard, there was never a moment that I felt I wasn’t going to finish. I knew I was crossing that line, it was just going to be slower than hoped for. I managed to keep my average pace under 10:00 so I’ll take it! And I finished in the first 1000 runners!!! This race was hard but amazing and I can’t wait to run it again next year. Those hills don’t get the last word!