Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Salinas Valley Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
The morning dawned dark and early. With the race starting at the Soledad Mission, I was up early and heading north. After getting a little turned around (all my fault- it was literally straight up the freeway) I arrived early enough to pick up my bib, debate what pack to use and use the port a potties. I had woken to a very angry stomach and had to use the facilities a few times before the race. Lovely. I headed to the start line to the beat of an ipod and an upbeat announcer. The weather had been predicted to start in the 70’s and be in the high 80’s by race end so I was very excited to see a heavy cloud cover that kept the temps about 10* cooler.
The course started off nice and flat. Which I appreciated for about 1/2 a mile. My legs were already fussy so by mile 2, I was running in the dirt on the side of the road. If there’s dirt, I will find it. 🙂 My shoelaces on my right shoe came untied in mile 2 as well. I was moving surprisingly faster than I thought I was going to be though. Mile 3 saw my first walk break as well as my shoelaces coming untied again. What gives?! I was enjoying the scenery. We ran past crop fields of Cauliflower and Peas. I was taking pictures while running.
Here’s my main gripe- the first water station wasn’t until mile 3.3. For a race in CA in August, I thought that was too far in. I carried a larger bottle of BeachBody with me but I still like water at each station. We started into a little rolling section of the course which was giving me slight downhills which was slightly helping my pace. This was cool because the walk breaks were becoming more regular. My legs were starting to get super stiff though. My brain may have seen the road as slightly rolling but legs were telling me it was flat. I needed a hill!
A hill! My legs were thankful, the rest of me not so much. I walked all of it. No shame, I knew this was going to be a slower race so there was no point in making my heart rate go crazy. 🙂 That climb started in 7 into 8 and partly into 9. Honestly it wasn’t even a big one, I just took it easy. The sun had also come out and temp instantly jumped 10*. Yikes! Water! I was still taking in the sights of the course and enjoying the music stations along the course. Then in mile 9, I got a little downhill to enjoy.
The sun was shining in full force which made the scenery awesome but did no favors for my pace. I started rocking out. Literally. We came upon a hill the race calls the “Beast of Eden” and I ran up it playing an air guitar the whole way. It was also the only hill I ran up. 😛 I then sang and played an air guitar or drums for the next 3 miles. I gave thumbs up to race photographers (which actually turned out to be a terrible picture). There was a strawberry station at mile 10.2 and while they looked amazing, my stomach was starting to cramp up and I passed on them in fear of a repeat of the morning.
Mile 13- 11:42
Ok, I was done. I felt like this mile took 20 minutes. The finish line was never getting closer. I was hot, thirsty and tired. We ran past the buses to take us back to the start and man they looked tempting. I was walking so much. We turned left but still no finish line. Just an uphill. Waah. I was walking towards the last little turn to the finish and the announcer called me out! Seriously! Just make it obvious when I start running. Thanks dude.
Considering how I thought this race was going to go, hell yeah! If the sun had stayed away, I think I may have been about 5 minutes speedier. It warmed up really fast once the sun came out and I wish there had been another water station or 2. I drank water at every station and had my bottle. Once across the finish line, I downed a chocolate milk and a bottle of water. Normally drinking that much that fast would have me feeling very ill but I felt fine. Like I said, it was kind of warm those last miles.
Overall, I really enjoyed the race. It was kind of nice to go into a race mostly relaxed and barely even glance at my watch. I enjoyed the backroads, and the crop signs and Steinbeck were an added touch, The only thing I would change is more water stations.
Half marathon #27 done. 😀