San Diego Beach & Bay Half Marathon
When I finished the Carlsbad Marathon, I reflected on the process - looking for weak spots, for strengths, for things I wanted to try a little differently for the next go-round. One thing I wanted to do was add one or two races to my training cycle. I love the atmosphere of races, I like to challenge myself to set a PR, and it breaks up the training. Since our days in LA are numbered, we knew we wanted to get down to San Diego since we are so close. I found a half marathon in San Diego and signed up, just a few days after the marathon. I also signed up for the marathon and almost forgot about the half completely.
My coach texted me “Your goal for the half is 1:45!” when I started my marathon training cycle. I thought ‘Man, that seems ambitious, but if she thinks I can do it, then I gotta try!’ I began training for the full with workouts reflecting the half marathon goal pace. I had a really hard time completing those workouts, and actually only successfully completed about half of them. The pace was just a little too aggressive for me, and mentally I wasn’t ready to push the envelope yet. I’ve struggled to mentally engage in my workouts fully this cycle and I think a big part of that is life stress. Preparing to move, to buy a house (EEE!!!), to travel all over with a toddler, and remaining sane during it all. Running is a priority for me, but there’s a lot of other priorities happening too.
I knew the 1:45 goal was lofty with the work I had been doing and to be honest that was a little frustrating. I knew this half was part of a larger goal (the marathon) though, so I asked my coach a week before the race ‘how do you suggest I approach this race?’. She suggested I try running the race at my goal marathon pace (8:35). I thought even that would be hard, but I had to try, reminding myself that I could do hard things. Reminding myself that in this season of life, an 8:35 pace would still get me to PR. Reminding myself that it’s okay not to meet goals, that it just makes you work harder to meet it at the next opportunity.
Mentally I tried to be really chill about the whole race. At the end of the day, this was just a 13 mile workout. We drove down to San Diego stopped by the expo and found a park nearby for William. I am so lucky to have a husband who supports me, jumps on yelp/instagram to find coffee shops near races, and plays with William while I run.
We checked out Liberty Station, which reminded us of Old Town in Omaha, the public market in Seattle, and the market in Napa Valley. Needless to say, it was our kinda place. We picked up some croissants for breakfast and got some coffee (Colton’s pick!). We found a pasta place nearby, which turned out to be amazing. Devine Pastabilities they make torpastas, which are basically large breadsticks with pasta IN THEM. I had the carbonara and Colton had a pesto and sun dried tomato pasta. Both were so so so good. I’m trying to figure out how to replicate them at home because I have had a couple dreams about them since… I love my carbs.
I was worried about how William would do overnight in a hotel (our previous stays in airbnb’s had not gone great). I had brought along his favorite stuffed animal (Frank the Cat), his softest blanket, and his sound machine. Turns out that was the perfect combination - he slept great despite it being hotter than heck in our hotel room (it’s possible William hit all the buttons on the A/C and broke it…)
Race morning: I did my warm up jog over to the race start, our hotel was about 2 miles from the start line so it was perfect. I hopped in line for the bathroom then found a place between the 1:50 & 2:00 pace groups. I was a few feet behind the 1:50 pacer and unfortunately the race officials cut off the wave right before me, so I was immediately separated from the pacer.
The first mile was a little slow going (8:50), and included a lot of dodging people going slower than I wanted to be going. It also felt like I was working harder for an 8:50 mile than I should have been. My goal of finishing under 1:56 (a PR) quickly dissipated. My goal turned into ‘just finish the race’, my mental game was pretty weak and I had almost no confidence in myself. In the last 6 weeks I hadn’t run more than 3 miles at a hard clip, so why did I think I could run 13? About halfway through mile two I saw the 2:00 pacer and my ego thought ‘shit. are you kidding me? no. not today. not this soon. nope.’ I pushed myself a bit and stopped thinking about my pace. My new goal was just to catch the person in front of me. Mile two was an 8:55 and i told myself that would be my slowest mile of the day. At the start of mile 3 there was a SMALL hill, an overpass. I didn’t even register it as a hill, until the two ladies just in front of me stopped and I overheard blue shirt say “This is suppose to be a flat course. I can’t run up hills!’ I thought ‘lady, this isn’t even a hill!’ I charged up, passing 7 people. Once I stopped thinking about my pace and just focused on catching the next person the race became fun and it didn’t feel hard anymore. The next 9 miles flew by (8:39, 8:26, 8:33, 8:41, 8:35, 8:33, 8:45, 8:40, 8:45). The only time I glanced at my watch was when my mile splits popped up, I was racing purely on feel, surging to catch a person and settling back into a my pace. I felt good with two miles to go so I told myself ‘Alisa is in labor, get done, go meet the baby’. (Spoiler: Alisa is due today (4/18) and the baby is STILL NOT HERE). Mile 12 came in at 8:38, I finally saw Colton and William and I tried to be a little more aggressive. Unfortunately mile 13 was also a mile that had traffic. People who had finished the half, 10k, and 5k were now walking on the pathway and not exactly being considerate about it. This forced some slow down in spots, which was a little frustrating. When Garm let me know mile 13 (8:26) was done, I knew I had to book it. Not only to PR, but also because my legs felt great. I love finishing strong, which was one huge thing that didn’t go well in the marathon. The last .1 (.23 according to Garm) was about a 7:36 pace, finishing at a 7:04 pace. I couldn’t hardly believe my eyes, but the feeling of wanting to vomit also made it very real. I had left it out there and earned a PR (1:54.20) of about 2.5 minutes so I was very pleased.
I still want to go sub 1:45 but that goal will have to be for another cycle. After this marathon I plan to take a little time off, and hopefully focus on some shorter distances so I can see some faster turn over in my legs. The fact i finished up a 13 mile workout hitting a 7:04 pace makes me wonder what my legs are capable of! I enjoy putting in the hard work so i’m looking forward to a lot more of it.