Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Close, but no PR: Wine Country Half Marathon

Sunday 13.1 miles/1:46:33/8:08 average pace

It was a gorgeous day, a beautiful course, a hard race, and a solid "B" goal success!

I am really happy with the outcome- I gave it my best effort and learned a few lessons. Zach and Maritza also ran well and we all enjoyed the event. We started the day reeeeeally early with a 4:00 am wake up call. We picked up Martiza and drove the hour or so up to Sonoma where we parked and picked up the shuttle bus to the start (note: Fancy wine-country tour buses, not school buses! Score!) We arrived at the staging area which is in the midst of a winery- very pretty! We hit up the porto potties first thing, then hung out for a while chatting and checking out the other runners. We made another stop at the porto potties and then headed to the starting line down the hill. I jogged a little stretch of dirt between rows of vines to warm up, then I said goodbye to my buddies and squeezed up closer to the starting line.

At just a few minutes past 7:15 we were off! The course is generally flat with some rolling hills. The scenery is all rural wine country. Gorgeous. There were virtually no spectators, but I was feeling the energy of the other runners and had no problem getting into a groove. I started off very strong:

mile 1: 8:02
mile 2: 7:49 (missed split- ave)
mile 3: 7:49 (ave)
mile 4: 8:04
mile 5: 7:56

Right on my goal pace, feeling good. I was with a pack of runners that were carrying me right along. But about mile 6, way too soon, I started feeling tired. I pushed through, hoping I would settle down and relax.

mile 6: 8:17
mile 7: 7:50

That last mile was really forced, and I was working really hard at this point. My legs felt a bit heavy but ok. It was my breathing that was holding me back- I was sucking wind. Wheezing and it sounded horrible! I felt bad for the people around me, since I hate having to listen to people huffing and puffing. Sorry people!! I started taking walking breaks - just a few seconds at a time- and tried to get my breathing under control. I slowed way down in the next few miles as I was at my limit. I tried to pep-talk myself but it was all I could do to keep running.

mile 8: 8:37
mile 9: 8:20
mile 10: 8:08

When I got to mile 10 I told myself, only a 5k to go, no walking!! But, I had to walk. Ugh! I knew I couldn't pull of the PR finish, so I just focused on making forward progress. I really wanted to give up and just walk but I pushed on.

mile 11: 8:29
mile 12: 8:43

I was completely at my limit, still wheezing and really struggling. I was trying to hang onto the pack of runners I'd been with this whole time but they were slipping away. I finally got some focus when I saw that mile 12 marker and did some math in my head. I had long-since given up on my goal of PR, but I realized I could actually finish in a decent time if I sucked it up and finished strong. I sped up, passing all those runners I'd been pacing with the whole time. Determination alone drove me to the finish.
mile 13: 7:37
13.1: 0:44 (that's 1 second faster than the final .1 of my 5k last week)

Watch time: 1:46:30 (official chip time 1:46:33) 8:08 average pace

So, I obviously had something left in the tank to finish that strong, but I couldn't tap into it for some reason. I don't know exactly where I went wrong with my pacing, besides obviously starting off too fast. My mile splits were all over the place and I ran a big positive split, which is so not me. I ran the first 7 miles in 55:48- 7:58 average pace. I ran the last 6.1 miles in 50:12- 8:14 average pace, that final mile brought my average pace way down. It was not a very well-paced race, and I am not sure I ran my best. But I'm extremely proud of a couple things:

My overall time is just one minute and 39 seconds slower than my PR. That's actually pretty close, and I'm proud of my very solid run.

I didn't give up and throw in the towel when it got hard. I have done this in the past (SF Half Marathon last summer, I finished in 1:50) and I felt terrible about it, like, to this day. So I'm proud of myself for pushing on even when I knew I wouldn't get a PR.

I cranked out that last mile. I know this means I really messed up my pacing somewhere, but that fact aside, wow! :D

I finished 191st overall, out of 1,511 half marathon runners. I was the 71st female finisher, out of 1,012. I placed 13th out of 203 girls in my 25-29 Age Group.

I got my chip removed and received my finisher's medal, then walked over to start watching for Zach to come in- and saw him right away! I was so proud, I screamed and cheered for him and got a little teary when he got his finisher's medal.

I encouraged him to write up his own race summary, which is at the bottom of this post. :)

Maritza charged in not far behind, we were waiting and gave her a roaring cheer as she passed (and I got a high-five!) and went and found her at the finish line. She did great!! GO Maritza!! She hadn't done many long training runs due to knee/shin issues and cranked out this half marathon on pure will. Not too shabby! Girl's got endurance.

We picked up our souvenir wine glasses and sampled some local wine, then got lunch at a local bakery. It was a long drive home, we were all totally beat! I'm so proud of Maritza and Zach, and of myself. What a team. :) Thanks for reading!

Here is Zach's First Race Report!


The race began at a steady uphill walk as the crowd approached the start line. I was alone at the start of a long run for the first time ever; Jen had started working her way up in the pack and I watched her as she jockeyed for position about 150 feet ahead of me. I crossed the start line, started the timer on my watch, took a deep breath, and started off on my first half Marathon. As I crested the hill at the start I saw the crowd ahead of me cruising downhill for the first half mile or so of the course. As I watched the different colored shirts, hats, shorts, and bandannas moving down the road it made me think of gasoline spreading out on a puddle of water (you know what I am talking about if you have ever seen it). My first mile came in at 8:45; I was on pace and felt good – 12 more miles like this and I would be good to go. Fast forward to mile 4; my pace had decreased and now I was hovering right around an 8:00 mile. I watched my next two miles come in around 8:00 and knew I was running a bit fast but figured it was a race and I was feeling good; when I hit my lap and noticed I had just done a 7:40 mile I knew I had to make myself slow down. My next mile came in at around 8:21 and there was a soreness creeping up through my hamstrings but now I only had five miles to go so I told myself to suck it up and keep on moving. When I got to the 10 mile marker I knew that a much deserved walking break was coming my way. I waited until about 45 seconds into the mile then pulled out my last two cliff blocks, threw them in my mouth (two eaten at miles 4 and 7 as well), then washed them down with a big drink of water. I now had about 10 seconds left in my allotted 30 second water break so I stretched my arms and shoulders before taking off again. I now knew that there was only a 5k between me and the finish line and I knew I could make it. I had expected to slow down quite a bit but miles 11 and 12 came in at 8:31 and 8:35; my mind was saying sweet while my legs were saying you have got to be kidding me, we did that?!!. I decided that a 15 second walking break was in the cards at the start of mile 13 which gave me time to get another big drink of water and prepare myself for the last mile. As I started running again I thought holy crap this is going to be tough but suddenly I realized I was running the last mile of my first half marathon!! I knew I had to stop whining about the pain and bask in what I was about to accomplish. I relaxed a bit and had a smile on my face as I pushed through the last mile. Once I passed the 13 mile market I picked up the pace as much as I could and headed toward the finish line. The crowd was cheering, I was feeling good, and best of all I saw Jen as I crossed the finish line! 1:47:48, an average pace of 8:14, some pain, some pleasure, some laughing, some cursing, but all in all it was a great experience and I am looking forward to my next race!!


Marathon Maritza said...

Great job, running buddies! Thanks for all the cheering at the finish line!

Anonymous said...

Great Job..... Zach, great summary, both of you did a great job. Love the pictures. Look forward to watching for your future blogs.. Good Luck.

M&D in Montana

Bob Gentile said...

WOW Great Report...71st female finisher, out of 1,012--woo hooo
Well I think U ran strong and closed it out hard!! sorry u missed the PR but 71st is sweeeeet out of thousand!

and Zach had a nice pace, u guys are fast...and good job Maritza on limited training.

Now that's a fun weekend!

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Wow, great job to both of you! That is a haulin' fast time for Zach's first HM. Jen, great job pushing through the low points and finishing strong.

Anonymous said...

Great running you two! Great job Zach on your first half marathon. Really enjoyed both your reports. Keep up the great running, cycling and swimming. What a team!

Dragonfly on the water

miss petite america said...

awesome job!!! it looks like a beautiful course! i'll have to try it some day!

congrats on the strong solid race!

jahowie said...

Awesome run!! You would destroy me out there. Thanks for the great report. You are an inspiration.

jkrunning said...

It looks like a beautiful race, although I'm not so sure about drinking wine at the end. I'm much more of a beer gal.

Great time BTW.

Ryan said...


First, congrats on a great performance. Sounds like you really gave your all and had fun doing it. Beautful scenery! -
"I don't know exactly where I went wrong with my pacing, besides obviously starting off too fast." I'm willing to bet that's what contributed to your erratic pacing. Once you start out too strong on a 1/2 or a full, you're lactic threshold is blown and you can't make it up. Great job - and you are in a very high % in your age group.

Zach, great job - that's an awesome first half. I'm sure you'll incorportate your learnings into your next race. Keep it up.

txrunnergirl said...

Great job! Gotta love any race with wine at the end!

GB said...

Okay Jen, I was feeling your pain as you wrote about feeling winded and breathless through that half marathon. I wonder what happened??? Did you not get enough rest the week prior? Were your legs tired at all? Maybe not enough calories taken in ahead of time? Whatever the case, you gutted it out and still finished so strong! I'm proud of you! You are so close to knocking your old PR down. Are you running the San Jose Rock n Roll Half in October? It's a fast and flat course, also a lot of fun. Congratulations on a good race, Jen!

Zach, Wow!!! Sub 2:00 for your first Half Marathon. That is awesome. All your running with Jen has paid off. Great job!!!

Michele said...

Love the race reports for each of you.

y'all are one speedy couple.

Even without the PR that was still an awesome finish.

Congrats to Zach on his first half finish and with a great time too.

Kevin said...

Great race girl! But I still haven't gotten an audio file from you.. :-( Not feeling the love Jen!!