Going into this race, I knew not to expect too much. Partly because I had such an off May and June and I haven’t caught back up yet. Also, the course description was flat and I don’t do so well on flat courses. Then there was the humidity factor. Humidity is a big trigger for my asthma and I haven’t had the best showing at races with high humidity levels. Case in point-
Rock’n Around the Pier– 2:20:something and the first race I considered DNF’ing
Ventura- 2:34:something Granted there were other issues too, but I walked from mile 6.5 on. I also felt broken at the end- I almost couldn’t walk back to the hotel.
Surf City– 2:19- 95% humidity? Seriously?
So of course, I head back to Ventura for more
pain fun. Different course but 85% humidity at the start. I tried not to look but have finally learned I need to be prepared. I was aiming to run a comfortable race and finish around 2:15. I don’t know about you but humidity is never comfortable. So here we go.
After 4 hours of sleep I was up at 3. I had limited my carb intake since Friday and eaten less than normal pre-race on Saturday. I did this for Wine Country and it worked well so I tried it again. We were on the road by 4:15. My mom drove so I dozed off and on along the way. We arrived 30 minutes before packet pickup so headed to a nearby McDonald’s to use the restrooms and she and S had breakfast. That place was sketchy. Parking was easy and we headed out to the start. Packet pickup was actually easy. I think I had birthday luck and got everywhere before lines formed. I had good port-a-potty luck too. 🙂 Exited one to find about 60 people in line. They had a map of the course up and announcer going over it. There were pacers for every 15 minutes starting at 1:30. The start was self seeded with 4 waves- Sub 8, 8:00, 9:00 and 10:00+. In keeping with my plan to run a 2:15, I lined up with that last group. Here’s where I had to contain my inner fan girl. Earlier while hanging in the grassy area with my mom and S, a man walked past up wearing a McFarland singlet. I pointed him out to my mom and wondered if it was real or just something they sold in association with the movie. I then forgot about it as we headed to the start line. The corral at the start was very tightly spaced and I looked right then snapped my head back. The flippin’ McFarland running team was standing there! At least part of it. Say what!? They soon squeezed their way through to the sub 8 group. Then the gun sounded and we were off.
Miles 1-3- 9:14, 9:23, 9:34
So much for lining up with the 10:00+ pace group. I went out too fast!! The race has 3 or so miles on the boardwalk- at the start and end. This meant amazing scenic ocean views, but it also meant running on concrete. My left leg was pissed early on. Nothing alarming, I just knew I needed to shake it out. We switched to black top by the end of mile 1. I shook off the pain by mile 3. The next miles alternated between a black top bike path and busy roadside. I was feeling pretty good but I also realized I was going to positive split this race in a big way.
Miles 4-6- 9:36, 9:50, 9:47
There was a tiny incline for miles 5 and 6 and I loved it. It made my legs happy. 🙂 Nasty looking dumpster aside, the course scenery was still awesome. It was a clear, sunny day and the ocean looked amazing. It was high 60’s, low 70’s which normally I would love but I could tell the humidity was getting to me. It was no longer a question of if but when. We hit the turn around for this section a little past mile 5. Now I knew what I was getting on the way back so I was ready. The course leaders had also flown by when I was around mile 4- they were flying! I was pacing myself by following a tall man in front of me. I did that for about 4 miles before I passed him.
Miles 7-9- 10:32, 10:47, 10:07
I took my first walk break during mile 7. And another. Grrr. I was trying to make up my time in mile 8 when I had a breathing issue. I had used my inhaler 3x leading up to race start but it wasn’t enough. I haven’t mastered using my inhaler while running so that meant slowing to a walk, taking out the inhaler, using it and giving my lungs a minute or 2 to calm down. I need to work on that but I don’t train in humidity. Mile 8 is usually my favorite mile but I feel like I missed most of it. I did find someone new to
chase pace though. Up ahead, I saw someone I thought I recognized but have never seen in real life- Hilary @ Embrace the Neon! I chased her for the next 5 miles. Running- the only acceptable way to chase people. 🙂 I promise I’m not creepy, I just find someone to pace off of. Miles 10-11- 11:13, 10:57
I had graduated to walking all the water stops. I would drink half the water and dump the rest on my head or down my back. I was so sweaty, it was hard to tell the difference. Heading back to the boardwalk something funny happened- the arms at the train crossing came down! I saw everyone ahead stopped but I didn’t want to stand still and wait so I slowed to a walk hoping the train would come through before I got there. They lifted without a train ever coming through- what? Then we were back on the board walk. This is where things got dicey.
The boardwalk wasn’t closed so we were dodging walkers, non-racing runners, bikers, surfers, dogs, etc. That took so much more energy, mental and physical, than I had. One woman got off of her bike and parked it horizontal across the path. I swear she looked at us racers like “deal with it” but that could have been the fatigue making things up in my head. Another hard part of mile 11? Running past the finish line. We had to run past the finish/ start area to head the other direction for a 2+ mile loop before the finish. Grrr.
Miles 12-13.1- 11:32, 11:00, 8:17 pace
And my lungs protested again. Once more I slowed to use my inhaler. I had troubles getting started after that. I knew I was so close to the finish but I was hot and tired. I was so sweaty, the shorties under my skirt started sliding- they have never done that. I took more than a few walk breaks those last 2 miles. Then it was back on the board walk for the final push to the finish- dodging people all the while. Somehow I mustered up energy for a final kick to the finish.
We were given our medals and herded into the grassy registration area. This is where my only real race gripe came about. The race promised tacos and beer at the finish line. Which were there but all I wanted was water. I could not find a freakin’ water table! I looked everywhere, even my mom and S couldn’t find one when they met up with me. I had read about other bloggers having this issue at races but had never experienced it.
I was so hot and sweaty and I just wanted to cool down. I took off my shoes and belt and passed them to my mom. I went down the beach, climbed over the rocks and walked right into the ocean. I heard her yell that I had paid a lot of money for the socks I was now walking the beach in. 🙂 It was seriously amazing. If I didn’t have my bib or my Garmin on I may have just sat down in the water. I hung out there for a bit before heading down the beach to the stairs back to the boardwalk. I didn’t trust myself negotiating the rocks the a second time.
All in all, I really liked the race. Even with falling apart at the end (thanks humidity) I managed to come in under my goal time for the race. Granted it wasn’t comfortable but it was fun and a great way to start a birthday. 🙂 After changing at a nearby In n Out (fries- Diet Coke!) we headed up the freeway to Santa Barbara for some birthday shopping. S’s birthday was the day before. My legs were feeling pretty good after the race but I kept popping my toes out of joint, grrr. Sorry if you’re squeamish. This isn’t something that’s new, I’ve had the issue for years it just seemed to happen multiple times yesterday. I managed to restrain myself shopping wise but did come away with a new skirt and pair of shorts from Lululemon. Oh and a purse from Macy’s. A great but tiring day. I was in bed by 10pm. 🙂
How do you celebrate your birthday? I’ve yet to have any cake!
Ever had to dodge the public while running a race?