Today’s Distance: 13.1 miles
Official Time: 1:57:17 (08:57/mile)
Calories Burned: 1,429
Total miles run: 246.2 miles
May 3rd, 2009: race day. The day had finally come. It’s hard to believe that, after five months of training, it was time to put my body, mind, & spirit to the test.
3:45 a.m. I awoke to the “Marimba” melody booming on my iPhone. I climbed out of bed, made my way to the bathroom, and tried my best to savor the last remnances of warmth I would feel for the next few hours from my piping hot shower. I munched on a Clif Bar and sipped on a glass of water as I pulled on my running shirt and reset my GPS watch. I felt strangely calm, probably because my mind was more concerned on getting ready and out the door in time to beat traffic.
5:00 a.m. We were out the door by 4:30 and arrived at the OC Fair & Events Center 30 minutes later with relative ease; the mood on the ride up was jovial, talking about the previous night’s boxing match that saw Manny Pacquiao knock out Ricky Hatton, among other topics. I finished up my second Clif Bar, took a few sips from my bottle of Gatorade, and parked the car, after which I went through the mental checklist. I put on the BodyGlide, applied my sunblock, and slipped on the shades as I got one last look at my car.
6:15 a.m. After a seemingly endless (and poorly organized) line to get shuttled over, we finally settled and began stretching at a spot near the Start Line. As the National Anthem was being sung, I closed my eyes and zoned in on the moment at hand. I didn’t have a specific strategy planned; I was going to run on gut and feeling. At that point, I just wanted to finish this thing and come out alive.
6:40 a.m. The race begins! “Welcome to the Jungle” provided the perfect jumpstart as I moved my way past a few waves of runners. Experience has taught me to run off to the side of the pack to avoid having to weave in and around other runners (and wasting valuable energy), so that’s precisely what I did. While I didn’t have a set strategy in mind, I do know that starting out too fast would spell almost certain doom later in the race. I tried my best to keep a steady pace, but with so many runners around me, I couldn’t help but feed off the adrenaline rush and speed through a little bit.
7:07 a.m. Mile 3: The first tweak. My heart stopped and my face flinched. I had slowed down to a steady pace to grab a cup of water from the aide station at mile 3; still moving, I took a few swigs. The person in front of me, however, had decided to completely stop and stand at the aide station. Not seeing this, I braked and stopped myself with my left leg, resulting in a pain I felt every ounce of. It was a scary moment, but thankfully, temporary.
7:30 a.m. About 5-6 miles in, I glanced at my watch only to discover I had been running at about an 8:30/mile clip, much faster than the pace I had been training in, which was at about 9:30/mile. This worried me at first; I feared I wouldn’t have enough gas left in the tank to finish the rest of the race. But, lo and behold, I was quickly encouraged by the fact that I felt perfectly fine. I had my doubts coming in whether I would be able to beat my previous time (01:59:24) or not, but if I could maintain this kind of pace, I would be able to beat my previous time by enough of a margin to, at the very least, give me some leeway to slow the pace a little at the end of the course in case I grew tired. I decided, at that point, that if I had the opportunity to beat my last time, I might as well go for it.
7:45 a.m. I caught up to one of the half marathon’s organized pace leaders at around mile 7. She had been pacing a small pack of runners around her to finish the race at about 2 hours, and I caught enough of my breath to say hello. “You’ve got a lot of energy for someone who’s run 7 miles!” “Anything I can do to help!” she cheerfully explained as she looked to the crowd, raised her arms, and shouted words of encouragement to everyone at the top of her lungs. Her energy instantly lifted my spirits, and I knew that if I could just stay ahead of her, I’d be able to finish the race in less than 2 hours. With my goal firmly set, I marched on.
8:00 a.m. Excited at the prospect of beating my previous time, I had an extra bounce or two in my step. But my legs—and the impending 150-ft long giant hill looming ahead of me—quickly reminded me that I was only halfway done. The supposed “flat and fast” course that the race organizers advertised the half marathon as was chiseled in my mind as I climbed that hill, with each step up sucking more energy out of me than the last. I cursed the race organizer’s marketing team under my breath, as I found that this course was anything but “flat” or “fast.”
8:15 a.m. That hill took its toll on me. I had been keeping a close eye on my pace ever since mile 5, and I thought I noticed a considerable drop in my speed after hitting that hill. I stepped on the gas, but after a few minutes had passed, I felt a small, but noticeable, gurgle in my stomach. And then another. And then another. I started to feel sick, and throwing up was one of the last things I wanted to do on this course. I regained my composure, slowed the pace a little, and noticed a sign someone had posted on a nearby telephone pole:
“Remember: the pain you feel now may be temporary…
…but your time on the Internet lasts F O R E V E R!”
This, admittedly, woke me up.
I was at mile 10. With 3 miles to go, and little left in the tank to rely on, I recalled the days and days of training I had put forth these past five months. I tried to psyche myself out by considering these last 3 miles “just another training run.” I remembered the trees, cars, and familiar faces I pass on my usual runs near my apartment building; the condominiums and the Lindora gym on the nearby corner. I smelled the sweet scent of tangy beef and fire-roasted chicken I always smelled when running by the local Black Angus, and the way the aroma slowly faded as I ran further and further away. I felt the wind soothingly pass underneath my arms, and the small beads of sweat trickling down my brow. In other words, I thought about anything other than running.
8:35 a.m. I saw it. It was within eyeshot: the 13-mile marker. I ran as hard as I could, not thinking about anything other than finishing. I took a quick look at my watch and was overcome with joy: I was going to beat my previous time. Before I knew it, I was rounding the last corner and across the half marathon finish line. I had done it; the conclusion of 5 months of training had culminated to the great sense of pride and accomplishment I felt that day.
I was relieved that the pain was over. For the time being, at least. I had accomplished my New Year’s Resolution for 2009. I was, and am, ecstatic.
The question now is: what’s next? I’m taking the next week off of running, to be sure, but what about this blog? When I first started it back in January I always figured I’d document training for the OC Half Marathon and keep it at that: an online memory for this one single, solitary race. But I’ve enjoyed writing in this blog so much, that I think I’ll continue to do so.
Besides, that Long Beach Half Marathon is looking pretty good.
Today’s distance: 0.0 miles
Today’s time: 0:00:00 (00:00/mile)
Net calories burned: 19,741 (+0)
Total miles run: 233.1 miles
#2130, reporting for duty.
It has been 5 months from the day I firmly stated my goal to train for and finish the Orange County Half Marathon.
That day is finally here.
Let’s do this.
Today’s distance: 3.1 miles
Today’s time: 0:29:08 (09:24/mile)
Net calories burned: 19,741 (+342)
Total miles run: 233.1 miles
The purpose of today’s run was to keep the legs as fresh as possible: I tried to maintain a steady pace, kept an extra eye on any extra-large cracks in the road, and tried to avoid over-exerting myself. It was, admittedly, a little nerve-wracking to think this would be my last run before the race. I took a few extra minutes to get ready, a few extra minutes prepping the Garmin, and an extra moment here or there to stretch; I couldn’t risk anything the slightest chance of anything happening.
I felt calm and oddly peaceful on today’s run and I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be at this point. The next two days are all about rest and preparation: supply- and clothes-shopping, Expo-attending, carb-loading, water-drinking, and sleeping all the way to early Sunday morning.
Today’s distance: 3.1 miles
Today’s time: 0:26:47 (08:38/mile)
Net calories burned: 19,399 (+360)
Total miles run: 230.0 miles
It’s hard to believe that this is my second-to-last run before the race. I’ve been relatively calm up until today, when the reality of it all hit me: I received an e-mail from the OC Marathon staff detailing the race day schedule of events, and it was then that a few butterflies crept in my stomach. I’ve done the mileage, but I haven’t picked up any supplies: GU Energy Gel and BodyGlide, mainly, but I’m also in need of a new pair of running shorts and shirt. Looks like Friday and/or Saturday will be my designated shopping day. The Marathon Expo is also on Saturday, so hopefully I can pick up a few free sample or two and scope out some vendors.
I did today’s run with a specific goal: to teach myself to continue running/pushing the pace when tired. I began the run a little faster than usual and when my legs started feeling fatigued, I tried to push myself a little harder. I know the feeling is going to come on race day during the last mile or two; it happens whenever I’m close to finishing a run (both short- and long-distance). My body and mind tend to flatten a bit at the end since I know I’m almost done. It’s not something I’ve specifically worked extensively on, but today was a start just to get my mind in race day mode. At this point, my primary goal is stay as fresh as possible on my legs; no tree trunked legs for me.
My diet this past week has been pretty good (for me, that is). I’m trying to fill my tank with clean, unleaded fuel: grilled chicken, grilled salmon, whole grains, lots of water, and the like. Coffee doesn’t count, right?
I have one more run to go before I recuperate and begin resting for the big race! I can’t wait.
Today’s distance: 6.0 miles
Today’s time: 0:55:58 (09:20/mile)
Net calories burned: 19,039 (+655)
Total miles run: 226.9 miles
I felt great today. With the race less than a week away, I told myself: “if you’re tired at the end of today’s six-miler, you’re in trouble.” Fortunately, with my mind set on nothing but building my race day mentality, I got through today’s six-mile run okay. It was no piece of cake to be sure, and I even thought I was running a sub 10-minute mile pace, but I’m glad I feel the way I do, both mentally and physically, for the time being. I made sure to ice my knees as soon as I got back indoors: no way am I risking knee or muscle pain this time around!
During today’s run, I began plotting my plan of attack for race day. For me, it’s all about hitting my stride: finding that perfect pace of equilbrium, where you feel so mentally/physically fresh that the fact you are running is the furthest thing from your mind. The feeling usually comes a couple miles into the run.
The plan for now, however, is two-fold: stay fresh and stay injury/sickness-free! Part of me still doesn’t believe the big day is so soon.
Today’s distance: 3.2 miles
Today’s time: 0:26:58 (08:26/mile)
Net calories burned: 18,384 (+330)
Total miles run: 220.9 miles
Kobe Bryant has been playing in the NBA for 10 or so years, and he’s still in great shape. He stays durable, injury-free, and effective not by trying to dunk or score on everyone, but by picking his spots in the game to attack and go for the jugular. After slightly tweaking the knee on my last run, I think this would be a good mind-set to adopt for the next two weeks: get the miles in and pick my spots to accelerate, thereby avoiding injury and staying as effective and ache-free as I can.
Today’s distance: 3.2 miles
Today’s time: 0:25:20 (07:55/mile)
Net calories burned: 18,054 (+342)
Total miles run: 217.7 miles
I ran in nearly 80-85 degree weather today, but for some reason, I was bursting with energy. I’ve been eating relatively well this past week and have been taking the daily multi-vitamin, so that may have something to do with it… or maybe it was my body’s way of thanking me for keeping the mileage to single digits.
There was a brief scary moment when I felt a more-painful-than-usual tweak in my knee. The pain quickly subsided and I continued running without further discomfort, but it was a little unsettling that I was still experiencing something of that nature this late in the game (I even had my brace on). I was somewhat sprinting at the time it happened, so I think I should be okay if I maintain a slower pace.
I’m really trying to tighten up my diet these next two weeks: I’m taking my multi-vitamin every day, staying hydrated with a lot of water, having a bowl of oatmeal daily, and I’m actually eating my vegetables. ME, of all people. I’m most definitely feeling the positive effects.