Monday, October 22, 2012

Livermore Grape Stomp Half-Marathon Race Report

Woo-hoo!  I exceeded even my most hopeful expectations!  But let's start at the beginning.

Rise and shine runners!  I was up early, but not early enough.  We had a communication snafu and I thought I had more time to get ready.  Good thing I'd packed my bag the night before so all I had to do was grab some coffee, dump some cereal and milk in a big cup, and scoot out the door.  I was doing the race with a couple mommy friends, Laurie and Deb.  Laurie and I have been doing a bunch of events together this year but this was my first event with Deb.  I ate my cereal on the way and we chatted about our hopes for the race.  I'd set an ideal average pace of 11:00 minute miles, for a roughly 2 hours, 24 minute finish time.

We arrived at the race venue with plenty of time to get our race packets, pee, etc.  Man, it was COLD out there, in the mid 50's I'd guess.  Good thing I had sweats on over my running clothes!  The forecast for the day was low 70's and cloudy - running weather doesn't get much better than that.  We got all our stuff done and then stood around waiting for the race to start. 

Deb, Laurie and I pre-race
Unfortunately there were some organizational issues and the start time was delayed by 30 minutes.  Brrrr!!!  I started walking to warm up.  My stomach started growling a bit so I had a Power Bar Energy Blast from one of the vendors.  Yuck, the lemon was just as bad as the raspberry I've had in the past. 

Finally it was time to start.  We lined up and took off!  A lot of the race is run on a paved trail and the first half-mile or so was pretty crowded.  The pace was fine for me but I could see people that wanted to run faster were having a hard time.  It thinned out by the second mile.  And by then I felt like I needed to pee again.  Oh no!  I figured I'd have to take a break and lamented what that would do to my official time.  I also got a few moments of stomach cramps and started to worry this race wasn't going to go well.  And I kept checking my Garmin and seeing that I was running too fast.  I wanted to stay right around that 11:00 minute mile mark but kept drifting down to 10:30.  I tried to make myself slow down but it was hard.  I told myself that if I got to the 8 mile mark and still wanted to run at 10:30 then I could but for now, I needed to pace myself. 

Pace for miles 1, 2 and 3
As you can see I was not doing a great job of staying at the 11:00 pace.  We turned around at the 3 mile mark and I immediately realized why - we'd been running on a very slight downgrade, between .5 - 1%.

Now running on a slight incline, my pace slowed down accordingly.

Pace for miles 4, 5 and 6.
Now I was checking my Garmin to make sure I stayed under 11:00 minute miles.  Until now I hadn't had any Shot Bloks but I was starting to feel fatigued.  I'd brought 6 Shot Bloks so I made a plan to eat one at every mile interval starting at mile 7.  We continued on the low grade incline until just before mile 8, when we hit the hilly portion of the route. 

I pushed myself up those hills, focusing on my quads and fighting to stay under 11:00 minute miles. It didn't help that the wind was blowing in our faces. I missed the 8 mile Shot Blok, I think I was too focused on conquering the hill.  But I had one at each mile interval from mile 9 until the end.  And the need to pee had gone away so maybe it was just a nervous bladder (ha!  I love that term).

As you can see, I was successful in keeping my pace up.  We hit mile 9 and I started to let myself go.  Only 4 miles remaining and I was feeling pretty good.  By mile 10 we were all done with the hills, the wind was now at our backs, and I really let myself run!

I was passing people left and right.  After being passed by a million people in the early stages of the race it felt good to do some passing.  I passed a couple of guys and they tried to rally but couldn't stay with me.  It's not that I was running fast, but these were all people who'd run a similar race to me so far - and I guess they didn't have the energy left that I did at this point in the run.  In any case, it was fun!

Look at that mile 11 - 10:09!  That's because it included that big downhill and I was running all-out on those downhills.  Running fast downhill is hard on the knees, but there was a nice sandy ground next to the paved trail so I ran on that to ease the impact.  By mile 12 I was still feeling good - pushing myself, working hard, but feeling confident I had it in me to finish strong.  So I told myself to GO, GO, GO and not look back.  Are you ready to see my pace for the final mile?

9:31 baby!!  I kept picking people to catch and then running them down.  As I was nearing the finish line there was a guy just ahead of me.  I ran my heart out and passed him just before the finish line.  What fun!  I almost dropped to the ground but managed to keep myself upright.  Wowee - an incredible race!  We forgot to take post-run pictures altogether but here's a medal shot.

The finish medal is a wine stopper.  Fun!

I was high for at least the next hour after that.  But my stomach was not.  I signed up for a massage, ate some banana and a mini-muffin and then spent some time in the bathroom.  Back outside and waiting for my massage I started freezing my butt off.  But the massage was worth the wait.  She jiggled, stretched and kneaded my muscles into a soft state of relaxation.  Best post-run massage ever - thank you Lupe from the National Holistic Institute!  After that we hit the road for breakfast. 

I had a humongous breakfast!  An omelet, hash browns, toast and a pancake!  Needless to say I hardly ate for the rest of the day.  Ok, here's some final info - as if you need more numbers!  Here's a link to the full Garmin stats.

Official chip time:  2:17:56.  (Beat my goal time by 6 minutes!)
51 out of 77 for Women 40-49
292 out of 426 overall

overall pace, elevation and heart rate

I'm signing up for the Kaiser Half in February.  This is going to be a tough one to beat, but you know I'm going to try!  Today, Monday, will be an easy gym visit.  I have to have a quick turn-around, the Marin Olympic distance Triathlon is now less than two weeks away!!


  1. Wow, michelle - awesome run - congrats on a massive PR! Love that you've signed on to do another in February; enjoy the recovery and light taper before the triathlon :)

    1. Thanks for the support. That was a massive PR. Hope I can beat it in February. The tri will be interesting, to say the least. Zero tri training = ??

  2. Have a new title for your blog... Diary of an Inspiring Winner. That is so awesome Michelle. And holy moly how amazing to see the splits going down mile after mile. Amazing stuff you little athlete you! Particularly liked the picking off of runners ahead of you. Awesome! :)

    1. Love it! It was so fun to be running faster mile after mile. Thanks for cheering me on!

  3. Wow, an amazing post. You have inspired me to start running again after reading this. I've just started on my weight loss journey and have lost just under a stone. I need to really up my exercise and have run I the past but never carry it on, but I'll be going back to the gym (which I'm paying for, but not using) and start on the treadmill to strengthen my legs first before pounding the streets. Thank you for the inspiration x

    1. Yes! Get out there and get running sister! Take it slow. Walk for a while if you need to. It's better to build a solid foundation slowly and actually enjoy your runs, IMHO. Go, go go!!


If you don't want to login, use the Name/URL option (just type in your name...or any name for that matter). If you use the "Anonymous" option your comment won't get posted. - Michelle