Going into this race I had very few expectations and more than a few concerns. In an effort to keep things light and fun (and help my indecision) I took to Instagram with a race day outfit vote. The outfit I was leaning towards got zero votes. Oops. 😢
I only ran 2.5 very slow treadmill miles in the week leading up to the race. My left foot was bothering me and my left knee has been aching for a week or so. What I was not expecting was the sharp stabbing pain in my right ankle that I woke up with on Monday. It even hurt lying down. WTF? My left leg is the problem child never the right. Taper crazies, maybe? Who am I kidding I don’t run enough to need to taper but I was holding on to that thought all week. Better a phantom pain than a real injury. My attempt at running on Tuesday didn’t end well and I tend to run oddly on the treadmill so I just rested the rest of the week.
I was so worried about my weird aches and pains I somehow forgot about the one thing that can really mess up my running- my stomach. Saturday morning was not a good one. I was taking all the emergency medications my doctor has prescribed in hopes that I would be fine on race morning. Grr, but let’s move on. Monterey is a little over 2 hours away but the drive didn’t seem that long. We stumbled upon the expo as soon as we hit town- sweet! The expo was medium size and well-organized. I think it hit a new record for distance between bib pickup and shirt pickup though. I picked up a few things- 2 shirts, a Sweaty Band (my first!) and some Gu gummy things. I don’t know why I buy fuel when I never use while running but it’s better to be prepared right? We then wandered around Monterey on foot before checking into the hotel. Dinner was decided by proximity to the hotel and was California Pizza Kitchen. Gluten free pizza for the win! Not that I have a gluten problem but my stomach was so jacked up already I wasn’t taking any chances. Then it was back to the hotel to get some rest. I was super tired and my left foot was starting to hurt. I was in bed by 9.
The rain they had been predicting was coming in later than they thought and that made me happy. I got to the starting line around 6 for a 6:55 start. Seriously this was the chillest start I’ve ever seen. Over 8000 runners and there was no wait for the port-a-potties. What? No one even got into the corrals until about 5 minutes to the start. I also met Heather of wholehearted wife while loitering around the start line- Hi Heather! The announcer was upbeat and very clear about the course and race directions. I had my headphones but I was going to try to run without them. There was supposed to various types of music played throughout the course so I figured I would try to go with just that.
I was in corral D which was for a 2:00 hour finish prediction. Apparently I was feeling optimistic when I registered 6 months ago. 😉 I put myself in the very back of it. While I said my only goal was to have fun, I did have a time goal in mind. I was hoping for a 2:15 finish. If I could do that under trained and tired than maybe I have improved a little this year. I tossed my sweater to the side just as the first wave went off. My corral crossed the starting line a little after 7:00am, sooner than I had anticipated. The start was that smooth.
Miles 1-2 – 9:51, 9:36
We were running back up into the city. I noticed there were still runners walking to starting corrals. I know it’s chip timed but really? There was also a woman in front of me running barefoot. Really? Ouch. I also got the first shout out about my socks. 😃 The first course music was a keyboardist playing the Rocky theme song- sweet! Mile 2 led us into the Cannery Row tunnel. Never having run through a tunnel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The far end of the tunnel was manned by a DJ and had a light show rigged up. It was kind of awesome. But the way Gangham Style was reverberating around the tunnel made me glad when I was out of it. I had expected my Garmin to lose signal in the tunnel but somehow it picked up distance. From there out, my Garmin was about 2/10th’s ahead of the mile marked. It stayed consistent so I am fairly comfortable with my mile splits.
Miles 3-5- 9:56, 10:30, 9:41
Ocean views, Cannery Row, dancing jelly fish outside the aquarium? This race rocks! Then there was the elementary cheerleaders and a drum line. I love drum lines. I was keeping the pace I wanted and feeling pretty good. And I was still taking pictures as I ran. Which came in handy during the first out and back section. The elites!! I noticed the course marshals and lead cyclists coming so I had my phone ready. They are so damn fast! Kara Goucher snuck up on me and she was the lead female! Sarah Kiptoo passed by a few people later- she didn’t look like she was having a good day. I was also surprised to see a man running in a loin cloth carrying a spear running the race. What?!
Miles 6-9- 10:03, 10:23, 10:47, 11:00
I was feeling a little tired but was still holding onto a 2:15 finish. Seriously the ocean views were awesome. Aid stations were well stocked and run well. Water, gatorade, Gu’s, Vaseline and sunblock. Seriously awesome. And people were loving my socks- spectators were actually shouting it out to me. 😉 More DJ stations, a blues band and a jazz band. Then a Tonga drum line. Did you know they hold a squat while drumming? Holy burning legs, batman. The turn around came at mile 7.7. Mile 8 is always my favorite mile- home stretch baby!
I was feeling pretty good and loving the race until…stupid stomach. I cramped, badly, I felt like I had been stabbed in the middle of stomach. Come on! I was so close. First walk break. I wish I could say only walk break.
Miles 10-13.1- 12:37, 11:51, 12:01, 11:40
Riding the struggle bus. It was run-cramp-walk-breathe repeat for the next 4 miles. I never felt like I needed a restroom break but it just kept hurting. To add to the pain, both quads and IT bands started protesting the walking portions. Come on legs- don’t fail me now! A woman I had been near in the starting corral came up behind me during mile 12. I was walking. She encouraged me to keep pushing and I ran it in the rest of the way. Finish line- yay!! I lost 8 minutes over those 4 miles.
The otter was worth it, though. I also learned how very breakable the medals are when another runner dropped his. From there on out through the staging area, I was cradling it. 😄 I almost didn’t take one of the silver sheets since it had warmed up a lot but I was glad I did. I cooled off very quickly. The finish area was my only gripe about the race- It wound around and round and I just wanted out. I grabbed a cup of water and skipped the finisher photos. The post race food won points for the tiny bag of Fritos and pineapple juice. As I was leaving the food tent a volunteer was coming back with boxes of something. He offered one to me- chocolate milk!!! I told him that he had just made my day. I finally sat down by an ambulance while waiting for mom to find me. My knees and quads were pissed but that random ankle pain never made its presence known.
This race was awesome. It is definitely on my list of races to run again. It is a very PR friendly course, it has the right amount of flat, incline and descent for most people. The last 4 miles are some of the flatter miles so negative splits are likely. That might have been what aggravated my legs though as I am not a fan of flat. I need to work on that. Back to the race, the course is amazing and the crowd support was pretty awesome, and I’m not saying that just because they liked my outfit. 😎 Did it go like I had hoped? No but that’s not the races’ fault. That’s all on me and some things I need to work on. However, this was half marathon #6 of 2015- the most I’ve ever run in a year before. That’s something all by itself. It’s number I’m proud of. My last race of the year may have been my slowest but it was still worth it. And now I have something to beat next year. 😜