4 years ago I started blogging with the intent of keeping me and my friends connected (they in AZ, me in Chicago) as we trained for our first ever 1/2 marathon together. I had NEVER put more than 1 mile together in my life. In fact, I HATED (and I do mean HATED) running. But something triggered, something stuck and four years later, I again am running the same 1/2 marathon that got me through one impossible summer.
This is America’s Finest Half Marathon, 2010.
4:00am last Sunday, I’m up, my knee is taped (running not so good on knees), my bib & RFID tags are on… I am ready for this race! Bring it! Or at least as ready as I’m going to be after a somewhat poor training schedule. At 6:00am me and 8,499 other runners are at Cabrillo Monument in Point Loma waiting for the start. I always love this time. There’s a buzz before the race with all types of runners around; they’re jogging, stretching and mentally preparing; everyone showing off their running gear like it’s a fashion show and then jumping in the last minute bathroom line which is always AT LEAST 20 minutes long. The national anthem plays and the shot gun starts the race…
This run is one of the most scenic in San Diego – from Point Loma to Balboa Park. It takes you from the Point high above the cliffs, through the neighborhood hurdling the Bay and the Ocean, along the Bay, through downtown and upto Balboa Park.
Mile 0-2 is one huge pack of runners, rythmically bouncing up and down in motion through the rolling hills. You have to weave in and out, dodging people trying to get OUT of the pack. Mile 3-5: downhill. If you think downhill is a break, think again. Hills are not fun neither up nor down. The impact is heavy and flying down the hill can treat you to cramps. By mile 6, I’m on pace. Err, I mean I didn’t really have a time in mind to beat 🙂
Mile 7-8… Passing those that didn’t pace themselves. Yup, I run like a girl, keep up! Oh you would never believe the amount of zig zagging people & elbows do (no offense, but generally from guys) to keep you from passing. Umm, sportsmanship… I’m not racing you, just myself! Mile 9… one of very few miles in the zone. By mile 10… I may never do another 1/2 again.
Mile 11-13 … The Hill. Have you ran America’s Finest?! If you haven’t I don’t want to spoil it for you but there’s a 2 mile hill at the end. It’s anything but fun. I cheer others on just to get myself through it!!
On a 13 mile course you see a lot more than you’d think … runners breaking down (though nothing like a full) is an awful sight as are the ambulance. On the positive, there’s complete neighborhoods of cheering fans, Vuvuzela’s (those horns from the World Cup), kids cheering on parents with ‘my mommy runs faster than your mommy’ signs which are only to be beat by the ‘ it’s not sweat, it’s your fat cells crying out’ signs. The runners t-shirts and outfits would take an entire post to describe though I’ll say we have a lot of people that don’t believe in whining, do believe they run for beer & margaritas, in their dreams they are apparently Kenyans and know that running is cheaper than therapy.
And so up the 2 mile hill, over the bridge, through the gates, around the corner and there, finally, is the finish line. 13.1 miles … 1:53 … ~8:40 min / miles. Not a record but I’ll take it 🙂 Oh and that bit about me not running another one, well that probably wasn’t true.
To my fellow runners, see you on trail! On-On!