|Pre-race. It was "only" about 80 degrees at this point.|
Checking out the half marathon course map and elevation profile, I saw that the middle of the route goes right around the Rose Bowl, which is a very nice but also very hilly area of Pasadena. Also, and this is a key point here, since the OC Marathon in May I haven't been in "training mode." I've been in "hey, let's put in a few miles a week after the sun goes down just to keep in shape" mode. As if all that wasn't enough, the temperature's been in the mid-to-high really friggin' hots around here lately, and the race day forecast was calling for more of the same.
My expectations for Sunday were not especially high, is what I'm saying.
Theresa and I volunteered to work the check in booth for a local 5K run on Saturday morning, after which we headed to Pasadena for the race expo where we picked up our shirts, bib numbers, and goodie bag. Since Pasadena is only about an hour from home, we decided to make two separate drives over the weekend instead of getting a hotel room. For our recent events we discovered that even when we stayed near the race location, we still had to get up around 3:30 in the morning to eat
|Post-race, tired but happy.|
We got up at about 4:00 Sunday morning and I had my usual pre-race breakfast of a CLIF Bar and half a Gatorade G2 (orange). We arrived at Pasadena City College at about 5:45 (start time for the half marathon was 6:30, the 5K started at 7) where I filled the bottles on my fuel belt and took care of last minute "business." Normally for a half marathon I don't wear the belt because there's always plenty of water stations on the course. But given the extreme heat, and because I'd heard horror stories about this particular event in the past as far as running out of water, I thought it would be better if I didn't leave hydration to chance.
The gun sounded at 6:30, and the temperature was already 80 degrees. The first couple miles down Colorado Boulevard were shady, because the sun hadn't yet risen above the buildings. We crossed and re-crossed a bridge around mile three, and I was averaging about nine minutes per mile. I knew I would only get slower as the heat increased, so at this point I already knew that a PR and probably a sub-2 hour finish were out the window. This actually helped me because it took the pressure off. I made sure to hydrate regularly and didn't push myself beyond a semi-comfortable pace. Miles four and five were downhill into the Rose Bowl complex, followed by a three-mile "out and back" loop around the stadium. Miles six and seven were the toughest stretch for me because there was no shade, and the temperature was now pushing 90. My pace dropped to about 10:30 per mile, and I walked through one support station to take extra water and refill my bottle. This gave me a bit of a boost, which I needed for the one significant hill on the course which came at mile ten as we left the Rose Bowl.
The last three miles were actually not terrible as they passed through shaded neighborhoods and were mostly downhill. I picked up the pace a little bit and although I knew I wasn't going to come in under two hours, I set a goal of 2:10. Not great, but respectable. At about mile eleven, I ran by a home where the owner was out front with his garden hose spraying the runners as we passed. Very refreshing! With about a mile to go, I made the final turn back onto Colorado Boulevard and began
|I'm so proud of Theresa . . . she's awesome.|
After we got home, we found out that six runners from the event were hospitalized with heat-related illnesses and several others had to be treated on-site. Pretty scary, and it just goes to reinforce how important hydration is, not only during the race, but in the days prior. If you wait until race day to start drinking your water and sports drinks, it's probably too late. I made sure to keep my water bottle handy all day Friday and Saturday, and I think that's why I didn't have any issues. In fact, I felt better after this race than I did after the San Diego Half in March, or the OC in May. No cramping, no blisters, not even much soreness.
So here's what I learned from this event:
1. Hydration begins the week before a race, not the day of.
2. There's a time to go for PR's and milestones, and a time to run smart and enjoy the day. Extreme heat needs to be respected.
3. Don't lollygag, though, because they might run out of medals (this happened, and boy were there some angry finishers).
Next up, the Hangar Half Marathon in September. In the meantime, I'm going to take a week or so off from running, and then begin training mode all over again.