Race Day, Recap, Run!

2016 Rock’n Around the Pier Half Recap

I love beach races and I hate them at the same time.  I have learned that I personally will never set a PR on sand.   Partly due to the sand and partly due to how the humidity jacks with my lungs.  Either way, I seem to be a glutton for punishment as I keep signing up for them.   Plus this race tends to fall around my birthday so it’s become sort of an unofficial tradition.

This was my third year running some form of this race this year, second time running the half.  I didn’t have many goals going in other than complete the first part of my last big run and maybe finish quicker than 2014’s hot mess.


Yeah, neither of those were achieved.  In fact, I managed to turn in my slowest half ever!  That said, this recap will be a little different than my usual ones.

The morning started off interesting as I made it all the way down my driveway before realizing that I had forgotten my Garmin.  Seriously?  I actually debated going on without it but in the end I went back to get it.   I had hoped to run a little warm up prior to the race but my stomach was feeling iffy so I headed straight to the bathroom lines after parking.   Major props to clean, well stocked real bathrooms.  Once that was taken care of, I walked around the Rock parking lot and tried to shake loose.  Then I headed for the starting chute.  For the first time,  I was actually in the chute when the race started.  I can’t say that for the other years.  😛

It was clear at the start and I was hopeful it would stay that way.   The first 2 miles actually felt pretty good.   9:59, 10:31.   My legs were cooperating and the sand wasn’t too bad.   I was naively hopeful that things were going to stay that way.


Around mile 2.5, we hit the rocks at North Point.  They were no joke.  We bottle necked and slowed to crawl as we all tried to figure out the best way to cross them without breaking our faces.  Once that was done, it was back to the beach to run on.   Around mile 2 we had started to run into the marine layer.   And it was dense.  But I ignored it.  Until I couldn’t.  11:18, 11:18, 11:31.

I could not breathe.  My lungs were so tight.   I was slowing down with every mile.  I seriously considered quitting at the pier.  When all the 10k’ers were heading to their finish line and I had to turn around and head the other way.   I almost quit.  Almost.  But my car was at the rock, my parents were coming to the finish and San Francisco has fog right?  Besides the pier was clear so I was hoping the marine layer was burning off.   Mile 6-12:29

I was wrong.  Half a mile later, we were back in it.  And it seemed worse.  I was struggling big time.   I tried running  .75 miles, walking .25.  Couldn’t do it.  Next was running .5 miles and walking .25.  Another fail.  Ok, how about .4 mile run, .1 mile walk.  More fail.  Ok, walking was fine.  Walking was moving forward right?   12:55, 12:44, 12:41

Breathing was so damn hard.   My throat was on fire, my lungs and chest hurt.  I was beginning to wonder if you could OD on an inhaler.  But there was no where to go but forward.  There was only one way off the beach.


The rock patch the second time through was sketchier- by now I was mostly by myself and there was no one to follow.  Plus I was tired.   But I made it and knew I had less than 3 miles to go.  The fog was so dense, I was beginning to worry I was going to miss the turn off to head up the beach for the loop around the park.    Someone came up behind me and passed me so I just followed them.  Between the rocks and sinking in the dune sand, I had slowed to a crawl but I just kept moving.  14:33, 15:59, 14:16

where’s the rock? only about .75 to go

I was able to pick up a bit of speed on the pavement around the park but not much of anything.   I suppose I could have quit at that aid station but the finish was less than 1.5 away.  So back to the beach to finish out my crawl.   I was a mile from the rock but I could not even see it through the marine layer.  It was getting patchier so I was keeping my fingers crossed for sunshine.  Half a mile from the finish and my wish was granted.  Way too late but oh well.  13:13

 

The advantage of crawling?  I was able to spot my parents and wave to the camera as I jogged in.  😛

Finish 2:46:15   New personal worst!!!


So yeah, that was fun.  I actually finished with a smile on my face though.  It is what is.  Was it the race I wanted?  No.    But I listened to my body and slowed way down.   Had there been anywhere to go, I may have quit but in reality there weren’t any shortcuts after the pier so I just kept going.  I do wonder now if the race is prepared for emergencies though, I only saw what looked like a course monitor once.   And it could have just been a cyclist in a yellow vest- who knows?

I do however know that I cannot run 26 miles like that.  So now I am hoping for a clear day in San Francisco.   Fingers crossed!!!!


I still really love this race.  I will be back next year… but maybe just the 10k.  😛

 

Race Day, Recap, Run!

Bands on the Run 10K 2016

I love this race but man I have a short term memory when it comes to dune sand. 😝

This is my 3rd time running the 10K portion of the event and I keep cracking jokes that I get slower every year. The race benefits a local high school music program and is very low frills. Which is fine by me, I am always impressed that they have their own designed bibs. Most smaller, local races use the free Road ID ones. They offer a 5k, 10k and a half marathon. All the races are out and backs. I considered running the half in lieu of my long run that week but decided against it. I am so glad I made that choice.

Packet pickup took less than 5 minutes on Friday and that included parking. 😃 I was able to get what is a decent nights sleep for me pre-race- 6 hours- but that was only because the race had a late start. The races started at 10. 10? This is California! I have never had a race start that late. Most half marathons start at 7 or earlier, 10K’s around 8. If you’re really lucky, a 5K may start at 9. Maybe. I have troubles fueling properly on a normal basis, how the hell do I fuel for a late 10K? I know that beach races are dictated by the tides though so this must have been the best option. It was ridiculously cold when we first got to the high school so I was optimistic it would stay that way. After a fitness warm-up, the presenting of the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem, we lined up and were off!


Miles 1-2 9:35, 10:41

Mile 1 takes you around the track out the parking lot into the cypress tunnel trail and down to the beach. Since I was running this in place of the week’s tempo, I was perfectly content with mile 1. I also don’t think I could PR this course if I tried. 😝 Just before you exit the cypress tunnel to hit the beach you run through the drum line which is always awesome. Then mile 2 starts. And I pretty much came to a standstill. I’ve run 6 races on the beach but I still have no idea how to run over soft dune sand. I just keep sinking. I swear one of these times I am just going to take my shoes off and carry them. I tried to bring my pace back down once on the hard pack but the damage was done.

Miles 3-4 9:59, 10:03

I was tiring and that was not cool. I wasn’t even halfway, what was going on? I also noticed that there were more rocks and pebbles and things on the beach, then I realized how far up the beach we were. This was not low tide. We had to cross some rocks to get to the turn around point. Little rocks but they were still wet. The half marathoners were scrambling over big rocks as they kept going. To my untrained eye, it seemed like the tide was coming in but I had to have been wrong. How were the half marathoners going to come back?! Once at the turn around, I knew I only had 3 miles left and told myself to pick up the pace. Except I couldn’t seem to find another gear. The moisture in the air was aggravating my asthma but I just tried to ignore it. I just told myself to focus on running towards the rock.

From 2014, the tide was much higher on Saturday

Miles 5-6 10:42, 10:31

Damn, I’m consistent on the dune sand. Those miles are within 1 second of each other. I hit the dune sand with a lap pace of 9:40 for mile 5. By the time I was out, I was at 10:42. I was also regretting running without my headphones as all I could hear was myself sucking wind- ha! I was hoping to pick up the pace on the last mile but I was toast. The sun had come out the last 2 miles and it felt like the temp had jumped 20 degrees. Once more through the drum line and the cypress tunnel then back around the track to the finish. I saw my mother on the sidelines and tried to muster up a smile. Some of the pictures she shot show that smile, some show some truly horrible form. 😛 My Garmin shows that I picked up the pace for the last bit but I felt like I was running in quicksand.

Finish- 1:02:38
See, slowest one yet! 😉

Now, if my intention was to treat it as a true tempo for marathon training, then I mostly succeeded. My overall pace was right where I needed it to be even with dune sand miles. In all honesty though, I was hoping for a better showing. I don’t even think it was my time that disappointed me, it was how hard it felt. This was only 6 miles, how on earth am I ever going to run a marathon?!

All that aside, I still love this race. Sore calves, sand in my shoes and all. I look forward to running it next year. Maybe a little faster? 😉

Race Day, Recap, Run!, Slacker

2015 Bands on the Run 10K- Recap

Saturday I ran the third annual Bands on the Run 10k.   This race did nothing to disabuse me of the notion that 10K’s are hard.   Maybe reinforced it; that said it was a fun race.IMG_0462I managed to run away from work for a few minutes on Friday afternoon for packet pickup.    For a small local race, they are very organized.  I was impressed last year and this year was more of the same.   Last year, I though it was really cool that the volunteer shirts all said “I’m with the band” instead of just the usual “volunteer”.  So this year I was very excited to see that the race shirts said “I ran with the band” on the back.   I also like that for a smaller race, only in their 3rd year, they design their own bibs.  There’s nothing wrong with the Road ID ones, I just like the extra touch that the personalized bibs gives.  The race is a fundraiser for the high school music department.   Start and finish are the high school track and a band performs through out race morning.   They also have a bag drop table which for a small race is virtually unheard of.

Pre-race shiver
Pre-race shiver

IMG_0491The weather here has been very odd for May and with the race being predominantly on the beach, I knew it was likely to be cold, windy and more humid than I would like.    I wore pants, a tank and a long sleeve layer for the race and I was still cold.   My 25K in January was run in shorts and a tank and it hit 80.  Get it together, California!    Race start for the 10K and half marathon was 9:00 with the 5K starting at 9:15.    Some of the local races like to have a warm up/ fitness routine before them.  This was like a full on Zumba class.    I don’t think I could pull off those moves on a normal day let alone right before a race!!  I just observed.  🙂   Following the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, we headed to the start line.    Having been so far back in the pack at my last 2 races, I made sure to move up to the front this time.    I had placed 2nd in my Age Group in 2014 but the crowd looked bigger this year and I felt out of shape so I was just aiming for a steady race.   After some confusion about the starting horn, we were off!

This slogan made me laugh
This slogan made me laugh
Very hard to see Zumba warm up
Very hard to see Zumba warm up

The course is very scenic for this race.  It starts on the high school track before heading through the parking lot to a paved walking path before turning in the Cypress Tunnel.  The tunnel is a dirt trail that comes out a street before turning right and heading across the dunes and down to the shoreline.  That’s all in the first 1.2 miles.  From there to mile 3.1 you run along the water then turn around to go back the way you came.  It’s one of the few out and back races I like.     A half mile in, I felt like I was huffing and puffing already and that wasn’t a good sign.   I had used my inhaler 3 times over the course of the morning, so I thought that would help.  Then I checked my pace- 8:15.  Oh yeah, that explains it.   Oops!   I knew I was hitting a dune sand patch – in the tunnel- and would slow down so I just kept running.   Then we hit 20-30 yards of sand and we all slowed.  The upside though is that this is where the drum line was and it’s kind of awesome running past a drum line.   🙂

I lied to myself after last years’ race.  I really believed there was only about 20 yards of soft, dune sand total through out the race.  Yeah, no.   There was 20-30 yards in the tunnel and then a freakin’ football field worth to get to the water line.  I tried to run it, but knew walking was more efficient.    Now that my pace had been reigned in, I was breathing much better too.  🙂      From there I just kept a steady pace to the turn around and back.   There were hula dancers at the right before the water line and 2 guitar players along the beach providing the on course entertainment.   Once turning around, I notice that the clouds, the beach, the rock and the stacks at the old plant looked kind of awesome but I wouldn’t let myself stop to take a picture.   Particularly when I had to pause to tie my shoe that had come undone.   I was beginning think I had a good shot at breaking an hour and didn’t want to miss it.   I had forgotten how hard beach running is but I thought I would be close.  IMG_0514 IMG_0473

I finally made it back to the hula dancers and had that dang football field of sand to deal with again.  I tried running it once more but my calves and quads were feeling the burn.   So walking again.  A woman came running up next to me and mentioned that I was zig-zagging.  Oops, but I was just trying to get through it.  We paced each other for the remainder of the dunes discussing how much we hate sand.    Once through that, I felt exhausted and all I wanted to do was walk but I could hear the drums so I pushed on.   Past the drum line again, through the tunnel one more time and back into the parking lot towards the track.  I knew I might just miss an hour.   Once hitting the track, I tried to push it but I felt like I had nothing left.   Rounding the last corner, I could see the clock and knew I just had to hang on.   Finish- 59:37IMG_0499This was one of those cross the finish line gasping kind of races.   Some of the pictures my mother took are hilarious, I look beat, like I am going to fall over.    I stretched a bit and then began the process of getting the 5+ pounds of sand out of my shoes.    I was very happy that I finished under an hour.  It was about the only real goal I had for this race.    I also realized just how tough this course is, maybe I hadn’t phoned it in last year after all.    I felt like I was passed by more than a few people on the way out and only managed to pass a few on the way back so I figured an age group place was unlikely.  I wanted to check my finishing time though, so once we figured out where the board was this year, we headed over.   Times hadn’t been updated yet so we waited a short moment while a volunteer hung new pages.   At which point I laughed out loud.   I’d finished 1st in my age group. How?  Sweet!   IMG_0500IMG_0503Last year, my only complaint about the race was the lack of communication about how the awards were going to happen.   Even when they did start, things were announced in an order I still don’t understand.  This year, there was little fan fare- you just walked over to the awards table, gave them your name and they handed you your ribbon.  So much smoother than last year.   And since I was cold, the ease of it was awesome.

Overall, I am still impressed with this race.  It is very organized and the volunteers are great.  The course is tough but pretty and I look forward to running it next year.  When it is sunny and hopefully a little warmer.   🙂

Do you like smaller races?  Or larger ones?

Ever run a race with a drum line?

oops!, Race Day, Recap, Run!, Slacker

Rock’n Around the Pier 13.1- Recap

The one where I went into damage control at mile 3.  😦

If 2013 was the year of the PR, then 2014 is shaping up to be the year of the bonk.  At least as far as half marathons are concerned.   But I have to say that this is first race I ever seriously considered quitting.  Even when I ran out steam at mile 7.5 at SLO, I still knew I was going to finish, it was just going to be slow.IMG_5481

For once, I felt like I slept really well the night before this race. I woke up on time and made it to pick up NikeC by 5:30.  My stomach was being its usual self, so I did not eat prior to the race.  This is typical though, so I don’t think it affected me too much.   Parking was easy but time-consuming, the race was smaller than last year, it had about 200 for the half marathon and just under 1000 for the 10K, but parking was limited.  Once parked, we geared up, met up with NikeC’s friend and headed to the bathroom.  Which was where we were when the starting gun went off.    Last year I was still running to the chute when the gun went off, oops.  Thank goodness for chip timing.   We made our way to the chute and were off.IMG_5447

Slowly as there were 100 yards of softer sand to get through at the beginning.  Once on the hard pack, it was easier to run.  I lost both of them fairly quickly.  One moment they were to my left and then they were gone.   Last year’s race was overcast, this year the sun was shining and the ocean was gorgeous.  Last years 10K went so well (easy) that I had minor hopes for a birthday PR but I knew my speed was iffy thanks to my month of stomach issues.   Realistically, though, I was aiming for under 2:10.  So all I had to do was stay under a 10 minute mile- I got that right?  Ummm…IMG_5457

Mile 1- 9:45 -ok, slower than I’d like but there was soft sand
Mile 2-9:45– hmmm felt way faster than that, but consistent at least.  If only this stomach cramp would go away.
Mile 3- 9:51 felt like I had already run the full 13, shifted to a run/ walk method
Mile 4– 10:02 I just choked on air, walk break, take a few pictures.  Now the cramp is on the other side.
Mile 510:09 Wheezing, need air, where’s my inhaler?  Yes nice man in front of me I see the dolphins (which now I think was awesome but then, not so much.)
Mile 6- 9:47 I refuse to hit the turnaround (10K) past the hour mark, pick it up!
6.2 mark– Turn around 59:08-Man, I wish I was doing the 10K.
Mile 7-10:18  oh, my god, why is this so hard
Mile 810:24– my run .9/ walk .1 is falling apart, walking more often and longer
Mile 911:09 another sudden need for my inhaler. Man the water is so much closer now.
Mile 1011:25 oh hell, I could take my shoes and socks off and just walk leisurely back to the finish.  I’m mostly walking anyways.  Oh fisherman, please don’t cast your reel at me, that would hurt.
Mile 1112:15 Oh, what hell is this?  To make 13.1, we had to go up through the dunes to run a mile on a paved path.  I could have crawled faster through the sand. Is it hot? Why am I so hot?
Mile 12- 11:57  Made it to a 9:20 pace on the pavement, soft sand on the way back to the beach brought me back down.
Mile 1311:15  Why is this mile so long!!  I feel like I have been staring at the finish line in the distance forever.   Ugh, just keep running.

This was just evil
This was just evil

Finish- 2:20:21   Ouch.  Literally and figuratively.   My calves were on fire.  Even with running in compression socks, I was so sore by the time I crossed the finish line.  My chip was cut off as I was handed my medal.  It’s freakin’ awesome!  That helped alleviate some of my irritation.   I drank some water and chatted with my family while waiting for NikeC to finish.

This is how we get family pictures
This is how we get family pictures
So shiny! And huge!
So shiny! And huge!

Running a race with a friend was awesome.  It was great at the starting line, and we passed each other twice on the course which was a great little pick-me-up.  The finish line was fun too.  I am looking forward to our next race.  🙂IMG_5533

The brother playing with his GoPro
The brother playing with his GoPro

The race course itself was amazing.   Blue skies and blue ocean, and the beach, come on.  Seagulls and dolphins, too.   Given how close the water was on the way back, I understood the early start time more.   There was plenty of water stops.   They had volunteers directing where to turn around and when to turn off the beach.   My only 2 slight negatives were- no on course bathrooms, and I never saw a mile marker.    Now I was pretty much head down in misery from mile 3 on but I still think I would have seen at least one.  As for bathrooms, I realize that it was on the beach and I have never used a bathroom during a race but it’s nice to know they are there if you need one.IMG_5465

For the cost of this race, 50 bucks!, the swag was amazing and I think the medal may be my new favorite.  Plus there was live music and an amazing breakfast buffet at the finish line, eggs, sausage, orange juice, etc.   I only wish I felt like trying some of it.IMG_5459

We headed out shortly after that.     I was having a little shindig that evening for my birthday that I had to get ready for.    Yesterday I was oddly sore in weird places.  My butt and my lower back hurt, guess I ran differently on the sand this time than previous races.

Overall, this race was part of a great day.  Yes, I was seriously disappointed in my performance but hey, I didn’t quit!  I need to figure out what is going with my stomach so I can get back to speed work.   Right now I have no idea how ever ran a 2:05 let alone trying to fathom breaking 2:00.  My next half is in 8 weeks, and it’s flat and paved, so fingers crossed, my time will start heading in the right direction.

Anyone else race this weekend?

Ever run on the beach?