Well, well, well. Here I am, FINALLY writing a race recap again (!!!).
On Sunday, I finished my 11th half, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon! I haven’t run a half (or many races at all) since the Griffith Park Trail Half in March 2015 and as you know, I was getting antsy to run long again after a series of not-quite-injuries.
I went to sleep on Saturday night completely aware that my scheduled wake-up time could potentially leave me with not enough time to get to the starting line before the gun went off, but I couldn’t fathom getting up any earlier than 5:30AM on a Sunday. I set my alarm and crossed my fingers that I’d find parking right away and have plenty of time, because I gave myself basically no buffer. I was out the door by 5:45AM and to downtown LA by 6:10AM (and super impressed with myself). I navigated my way around the closed streets and found a free parking spot in a preeeetty sketchy place, but felt okay about it because there were other bib-wearing runners, waiting in their cars, applying sunscreen and drinking coffee, just like me. (I parked on Olive Street and walked about 1/2 mile, if you’re wondering for next year!) I waited for them to get out of their cars and then creepily walked right behind them to feel safer.
So, the race. Let me start by saying I’m really not, like, a “fun” person. I know that sounds lame and self-deprecating, but let me explain. Rock ‘n’ Roll races really put a focus on “fun”. There’s so much fanfare and people woohoo-ing and announcers singing and countdowns and I’m just not that person. I’d rather just run. I always forget this until I’m at the starting line of a race like this.
I get that some people love that, but I kind of started off mildly annoyed. I can’t help it.
Anywhoodles, the weather was overcast and cool and perfect. (It didn’t rain until I finished!) It started at the Staples Center and ran down to USC, through the gates of the Coliseum (BOOOOO) and back. The rest of the course was through downtown LA (I guess? Totally unfamiliar with the area) and finished back at the Staples Center.
When I started running I was feeling so…light. WEIRD because I ate a TON of penne vodka the night before and went to bed with an overly full belly. (So worth it.) All my training runs felt slow and heavy, I’d just plod along without much urgency, so I knew I should start slow and easy and pick it up later if I wanted. But I didn’t because I was feeling great.
I know, I knowwww, that’s not what you’re gonna want to do if you want to finish a half.
But I just went with it and sent up some silent prayers that I could hang on. Because raceday is magical. And that can happen, I tell myself.
After mile 2-ish I had this dull tightness that I’ve become accustomed to. It was bouncing around from my hamstring to my hip to my piriformis, but nothing bad. Eventually it went away.
The first 5 miles or so were really crowded, so I kept reminding myself to take a deep breath and not let the frustration get to me. I know I have to remain in control of my brain because if I start spiraling down mentally, it becomes a loooong, painful day.
These miles were painfully flat and I was afraid the entire course would be that way (because I of course didn’t check the elevation map before the race. Someone take away my runner’s card.). I prefer a little variation in my elevation because it can be easier on the muscles. Or at least I feel like it is.
I was simultaneously happy and regretful once the uphills started on the back half of the course. They were merciful on my muscles but I’m definitely not used to many hills and let’s just say my cardiovascular strength didn’t seem to be up to par. Still, I got into a groove and loved being out there running, listening to the bands set up every few miles (a great part about Rock ‘n’ Roll races, even though you only really hear each band for like 30 seconds) and checking out all the Halloween costumes. There were sections of the course with tons of zombies wandering around which I thought was hilarious.
The spectator signs were pretty good too. My fav: “If Trump can run, so can you!” LOLZ.
Around mile 11 the race started feeling “I need to be done now” tough.
I started practically sprinting the downhills because I wanted to get it over with and there was the MOST ANNOYING guy (who was actually in the race, not a random person) yelling his personal and political beliefs non-stop. Good for you, buddy, but I’d rather listen to my music. I had to get away from him. I finally did but was exhausted at this point, so I tried to distract myself by focusing on my surroundings and not how my body was feeling. AKA I tried to get all the zombies to smile at me. (SEE, I’m KIND OF fun! Right?)
I came down the last hill and heard the crowd around the corner at the finish line and it really perked me up. They were so loud! I kicked up my speed a little early, andddd then realized I had 400 meters left and was spent. I tried to keep the pace (ended up being 7:40 for the last .3 miles!) and did okay, but for a split second I thought I might throw up. You’re welcome for that image.
Yes, despite the fact that my shirt said “Positive Vibes, Negative Splits”, I started out the race with complete positive splits. (And semi-negative vibes.) I’m such a phony. But I finished with sort-of negative splits and definitely a more positive vibe.
Around mile 7 or 8-ish I decided I wanted to aim for an average pace in the 9s, which, if you count the extra .19 I ran, it would be a 9:55/mile average. (Official race results say 10:04, damn it!)
This race was one of my slower halfs (about 12 minutes slower than my PR) but I knew it would be going into it. I set that little goal at the end to push myself, but this day wasn’t about speed at all for me. I’m truly grateful I finished and was able to enjoy running, and that’s all I asked for.
When I finished I was freezing so I skipped the free beer (so unlike me) and headed home immediately, where I proceeded to take the hottest shower ever, put on pajamas and lay in bed watching football for hours. I only left the house to get Chinese food with Brendan and it was a glorious day.
Tell me about your favorite race! Do you like smaller races or larger ones?