Friday, August 22, 2008

2008 AFC Half Marathon Race Report

I've had high expectations for this race ever since the 5 mile race I did on the 4th of July. I had a lot of high quality speed sessions as well as high quality long runs leading up to the race. As has been reported here, the 2 to 3 weeks before the race were definitely not ideal. My eating habits were taking a turn for the worse and my already poor sleeping pattern as getting worse.

The night before the race, I managed to eat a healthy grilled BBQ chicken breast, potatoes and green beans meal. Already being tired, I only managed to get 4 hours of sleep the night before the race. I woke up at 4:10 AM completely exhausted. The say the night before the race isn't all that key when it comes to getting rest before a race and it's more the days leading up to the race. Even though I was getting more than 4 hours of sleep on average, it probably wasn't much more than 5. Oops.

For breakfast, I had my normal 1/2 serving of N-Large weight gainer shake mixed with 8 ounces of skim milk. This usually works pretty well for me. It's around 400 calories with carbs, fat and protein. In comes in around 40 grams of protein and has a lot of milk. Both of these are not recommended pre-race by a lot of people, as they have digestions problems from it. However, I have found it to work pretty well for me. I also made some black tea in hopes that the caffeine would help me wake up some. Of course, there are also studies out there about the benefits of caffeine on endurance events. I was looking more for the energy boost to wake up though.

I got to the parking lot around 5:15 near the zoo. I tried to meet Andy and Nicole to take the buses over to Cabrillo National Monument with them, but we were unable to find each other. Due to us missing each other and a mixed post race schedule, we were unable to meet up during the morning.

As I was on the bus ride heading to the start line, there was a thermometer on the bus going back and forth between 70 and 72 degrees. It was still dark outside and that warm already. Not a good sign. The skies were clear. Also not a good sign.

Nothing too exciting the 45 minutes leading up to the race start. I waited in the ridiculously long lines for the bathroom, looked for Andy and Nicole for a bit and then headed to the start line. I got in pretty good position and waited for the gun.

As we waited, there was a lot of chatter about the sun being out and the skies being clear. It was definitely going to be a cooler race than it was last year, but far from ideal. I was keeping a positive attitude and not letting the temps bother me as most of my speed sessions had come at very warm parts of the day. My goal was to push as hard as possible with the ultimate goal of breaking 1:30. If all the stars aligned and everything worked out, I was hoping to approach the 1:27 finishing time. As it was warm out and the sun was shining at 7 am, conditions were already not ideal. So I expected 1:27 to be unreachable, but I really wasn't sure what I'd be capable of.

Sadly enough, that's the majority of the race report. There really was not much to report during the race. The gun went off and 2 guys behind me were talking about Usain Bolt from Jamaica and his ridiculous 100m world record race the night before. After I pulled away from these guys, the first couple miles were very quite. There was no crowd cheering and none of the runners were talking. All you could hear were the pounding of shoes on the pavement.

My splits for the first fourmiles were a bit sporadic as the terrain was rolling and then a big downhill. Once I got done with the downhill, I tried to find a pace where I felt like I was pushing it a bit, but not so much that I would be compeltely dead by the time I hit the hills at the end. I found the pace to be around 6:45-6:50. I was hoping it would be more like 6:30-6:40. I just couldn't hit that pace today.

I spent a lot of the race running by myself or around very limited amounts of people. I guess part of that is the speed I was running, but there were other groups out there. It makes for a bit of a boring run, but the good thing about it is that you get a lot more pictures taken at the photo spots. There were 2-3 photographers at most spots. When I would approach, they'd all take a couple pictures. This made for lots of pics of me.

As I approached the last 5K of the race, the uphills began. I definitely increase my effort while my pace decreased. I was thinking at this point that I would be righ around 1:29 and likely be a few seconds over.

I usually pick a starting goal time and then keep track of the number of seconds under that pace that I run every mile. For this race, I picked 7:00 miles. This would give a 1:31:43 finishing time. By the time I hit the last 5K, I had something like 150 seconds in the tank. Take that off the finishing time and I get 1:29:13. Ok, well, that must not have been the number, but you get the idea.

I hit the hills and pushed hard to try keep my pace reasonable. The sun was really bearing down by this point and it was definitely getting warmer. I had been dumping water over my head as much as possible and drinking water at every water stop. I took two e-Gels from Cranksports during the race to give me 300 calories of energy during the run. I definitely wasn' hungry, but the energy definitely helped.

I approached the top of the last hill feeling tired, but not nearly as wasted as the past 2 times. I took the right hand turn to head over the bridge and into Balboa Park. I was right behind 3 other guys. The last 2 times I did this race, I tried picking the pace here and felt like I was going to puke. Having the motivation of catching and passing the guys in front of me, I picked up the pace. One got decided to hang with me and we quickly dropped the other two. I was getting pretty tired by now, but had less than 1 mile to go. I wasn't getting sick this time either. I felt like the guy next to me was more tired than me so I dropped the pace down a bit more. He couldn't hand and fell back. Again I was by myself. I made the last right hand turn headed towards the finish line. The crowds were roaring by the time. I spotted Dano and Melissa cheering and pushing me to run faster. I rounded the last curve and saw someone in front me. I dropped the down again and easily past him. Right before the line, I saw the race clock hit 1:29 and I did a dead sprint. I crossed somewhere around 1:29:03 or 04. I knew I was a few seconds back at the race start. So, I knew it would be close to 1:29.

Officially, I finished in 1:28:59. That was good for 94th out of 6,482 finishers and 10th in my age group. My average pace was 6:48 per mile. It was a PR by 56 seconds. So I was happy with my results, but still wish I had done better. I felt like I couldn't have run this race on this day much faster. I was just hoping the finishing time would have been a bit quicker.

Below you will find my race splits and the race profile with some of my info.

1 - 6:50.17, 164
2 - 6:59.32, 170
3 - 6:33.68, 170
4 - 6:05.62, 169
5 - 6:44.15, 175
6 - 6:56.43, 174
7 - 6:55.87, 174
8 - 6:46.81, 175
9 - 6:45.37, 177
10 - 6:48.11, 178
11 - 6:47.57, 180
12 - 7:26.12, 183
13.1 - 7:22.18, 186

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