October 29, 2006
I was graciously invited to compete amongst the elite runners in this year's presentation on the Big Sur Half Marathon in Monterey. I last ran this course in 2004 where I placed 2nd. I felt though that this year might be a bit more difficult as there were 2 Olympians scheduled to compete. I wanted to run this as a training race considering I was to race the triathlon at Treasure Island, SF the following saturday.
I woke up at 5am so that I had plenty of time to eat and have coffee before the race. My sister Erin was so excited about her first half marathon 3 weeks ago that she had decided to sign up for this one as well; so she arrived at my house a little after 5am and we got ready. I live about a mile from the start of the race, so we decided to jog down there for part of our warm-up. We got there in plenty of time to drop off our bag and run a little more before lining up in our specified corrals (like cattle!!). I was in the first corral and Erin was in the second. The gun went off at 7am and the pace didn't seem too fast in the beginning. I stuck with a few of the lead women for a few miles before I decided that I was just going to run my own race. I figured if I could hold close to a 6 minute mile average I'd be very near my PR.
The course is relatively flat with a few small inclines, but not hilly. The high-light of the course is running through the tunnel that connects Monterey to Pacific Grove. This is normally a car only tunnel, but there have been a few times where I've gotten to ride my bike through and now run through! There were a few musicians along the route which was entertaining, but nothing like the Rock N' Roll halfs. Nonetheless this is one scenic half marathon.
The turn-around point is near Asilomar Beach. There is a gradual uphill before the U-turn and I belive this is approximately at mile 8. About a mile or so before the turn around I saw one of my competitors who had passed me a few miles back stop and stretch her calf...she had cramped up and had to stop!! This gave me motivation to pick up the pace and see if there were any other women who might have "run" into trouble...pun intended!!
I began counting the women in front of me and quickly found that after passing the girl, I was now in 8th place! There was prize money to be had and 8th place was the last place to win money. I wasn't sure if I could pick off any more of the women in front of me, but I wanted to make sure that no one could come from behind. After I made the turn I kept my eyes open to see where the next woman behind me was and baring nothing happened to me, it looked as though I was good as gold to maintain my place.
I had no expectations for this race because I had been having some breathing issues for the past week and a half. Come to find (just recently) I had severe allergies, but to what I haven't figured out yet. That will come hopefully after my last race of the season.
I felt good during the race; no breathing problems, but I could tell that with about 2 miles to go that I was not in the best shape that I could have been in. I did however come very close to my PR; I was only slower by about :45. I also wasn't as sore as the Rock N' Roll half I did 3 weeks ago and even recovered quicker too.
My time for the half was 1:22:05 and I was able to hold on for 8th place!