Monday, February 4, 2013

Kaiser Half-Marathon 2013 Race Report

I was in a bad mood on Saturday night, I think in part due to my now dashed expectations for the Kaiser half-marathon.  I had been so excited about my goal pace, to run an average of 09:30 minute miles and finish under 2hr, 4min, 27sec, something I felt was really attainable before I got sick.  I ate a bunch of crap all day, partly due to my bad mood and partly due to the carbo loading excuse.  There was a ray of hope in that my stomach actually felt pretty normal most of the day.  Anyway, being in a bad mood always makes me tired so I packed my gear for the race and was in bed by 8:30pm, if you can believe it.  I fell asleep with my fingers crossed that my stomach problems would not prevent me from at least finishing the race.

Lauren, Catherine, myself and Laurie.  Love my running buddies!
Up at 5:15am and checking the weather.  Mid 50's and a cloudy morning with almost no wind - perfect running weather.  I had cereal and coffee and hit the road by 6:15.  I rode into the city with my running buddies Laurie and Catherine and we caught the shuttle from a parking lot to the start line.  I used the porta-potties one last time and then took my pre-run stuff (1 AccelGel, 2 Immodium ADs) and checked my warm outer layers at sweat check.  Despite getting to the race about 45 minutes early the time flew by and we headed to the start area.  This is a race with 10,000 registered runners, and it sold out this year, so there's a huge number of people lined up to start.

The gun goes off and like a herd we make our way toward the actual start.  It takes us about 6 minutes to actually cross the starting line.  I started running and soon noticed I felt pretty good.  My legs weren't feeling heavy like they did on Friday and my stomach, well, I didn't feel anything, which was good. And my ray of hope was growing, maybe I would have a decent day after all.

I had a couple of shot bloks at mile 3.5, only because that was the plan, not because I felt like I needed them.  I did the same thing at mile 6.5, still feeling really good.  I'm loving all the people cheering us on.  I try to throw out thank you as often as I can, thanking volunteers too at water stations (which I deftly run through - not really, I always spill water on myself, but I don't walk/stop).  And checking my pace at each mile, I see I'm running firmly in the 9:00 - 9:30 pace range (except mile 3, which included some incline).  But you actually lose elevation during the first 7 miles of this course, which helps.  No matter, my stomach wasn't bothering me, my legs felt strong, and by this time my ray of hope had turned into a full blown beam of light shining right down on me.  I was feeling so good, loving the feeling of running, and so filled with...with what?  With happiness.

I had a few pangs of worry about maintaining my pace but in the end I pushed those thoughts out of my head.  I was feeling great and I reminded myself that despite the last week, I had actually prepared and trained for this for 8 weeks.  My body was capable, I knew that.  The course runs into the Pacific at mile 7 and you run for 3 miles along the ocean, turn around and run back.  This is the strangest bit of road ever, it feels like you are running at a teeny incline in both directions, when actually it's totally flat.  I tried to make myself look at the ocean, take in the beautiful scenery, but generally I found myself staring at the ground or the people around me.

Catherine caught up with me around mile 8 or so and we chatted.  After a bit she ran ahead and I kept her in view the remainder of the race but never passed her.  Despite the now growing fatigue I was doing a good job keeping up my pace, glances at my Garmin at each mile showed I was staying under 9:30 minute miles.  I decided to run mile 10 at an 09:00 pace, I knew I needed to pick up the pace if I was going to hit my goal.  I had to start pulling out more mantras to keep me going, one of my new faves is from Born to Run.  Easy. Micah True (Caballo Blanco) from Born to Run:
"Think Easy, Light, Smooth and Fast.  You start with easy, because if that's all you get, that's not so bad.  Then work on light.  Make it effortless, like you don't give a shit how high the hill is or how far you've got to go.  When you've practiced that so long that you forget you're practicing, you work on making it smooooooth.  You don't have to worry about the last one - you get those three, and you'll be fast."
So miles 10-13...easy, easy, easy.  I want to drift forward, float above the ground with as little effort as possible.  I like that advice, and I'm running with it.  Ha, a pun!   Finally we come to the corner where we turn and head up the hill to the finish.  Yep, up the hill to the finish.  One hill on the whole course and it comes in the last 1/3 mile of the route.  So I pushed, I used my hill mantras, and I listened to all the people cheering us on, and I pushed. I looked at my Garmin...2 hours and 2 minutes.  If I could finish in the next two minutes, if I could conquer the rest of this hill in 2 minutes, I could meet my goal.  I knew it was going to be close and I remember asking myself, "Do you want it?"  Yes ma'am I do.  So I pushed, breathing harder and harder, legs hurting, running as hard as I could, and harder still.  And then there it was, within reach, the finish line.  I crossed it and I was so spent I felt like I might faint.  Whew!

I navigated my way through the finishing chute and got some water.  So my Garmin said 2:05:39, I couldn't be sure what my actual finish time was because I forgot to turn it off for a minute or so after I crossed the finish line.  I knew it was going to be this:close to my optimal goal time of 2:04:27, which is an average of 09:30 minute miles.  There were some timing chip issues so my finish time wasn't immediately available, but I know I beat my pace time because my Garmin showed an average pace of 9:23 (over 13.3 miles, if you're not perfect at running the tangents you end up running a bit farther than the actual route distance).  No matter what my Garmin said, I was dying to know my official time.  Finally today, my time was posted.

Holy goal-time! 2:04:20 - a whole 7 seconds under my goal time of 2:04:27.  You might remember that last year I finished in 2 seconds under my goal time.  I guess I like to cut it close!  And it's a good thing I sprinted up that hill like I did.  Anything less would not have cut the mustard.  I got under an 08:00 pace for a moment there.  I finished above the middle for female overall and for my age group.  Here are my splits, and full Garmin stats/map here.

Kaiser 2013 splits.

I should have been jumping up and down for joy but I was too drained.  And the way I dragged myself through the week, disappointed about the run (before it even happened, let this be a lesson to me), it took some of the fireworks out of it.  But it has sunk in now and I'm feeling quite pleased with myself.  I did it.  I ran a half-marathon with a pace under 09:30.  Next year I'm breaking the 2 hour mark (9:09 pace, I've got my work cut out for me!).  Ok, a few more pictures.

Finisher's Medal. 
Finisher t-shirt
Yay!  That's all I got.  I'm so happy, yay, yay, yay!!


  1. Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! So excited for you! What great scenery to run with too! I would love to be able to run and see the Pacific Ocean!

    When I did my 5K in January it was part of a half and a full event and man was that awful scenery! It just up and back down a street by the university. I decided that if I was really going to do a half I at least want to enjoy looking at what is around me!

    1. the surrounds make a huge difference on long runs. kaiser is a great first 1/2 if you feel like a road trip!!

  2. Michelle I'm SO HAPPY for you!! All that work and all the issues the past few weeks, and you STILL made it!! Great work - give yourself another pat on the back - you DESERVE it.

  3. Awesome! So very happy for you, way to go!

  4. Congratulations! I'm sure you are proud of the accomplishment and deserve that medal :)

  5. Super duper you runner, you! And yes, no more ruining the race before you start! Other than a broken bone I can't imagine a more challenging pre-race week, and look what you did! I'm thrilled for you!

  6. Congratulations! Well deserved. Doesn't it drive you mad waiting for those official race times to appear online? I have no doubt you will break the 2 hour mark. Enjoy the post race glow. It's such a great feeling.

  7. Is there any stopping you??? Clearly not you clever thing! So so happy for you Michelle. :)

  8. YAY! How amazing our bodies really are!


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