Wednesday, April 30, 2014

American River Parkway Half Marathon 2014

On Saturday I participated in the American River Parkway Half Marathon for the second year in a row. I guess I should really refer to it as an "ultra" half marathon though, as the course was closer to 13.65 miles rather than 13.1. It was purely accidental, so I couldn't be too upset.

I haven't been running much since the American River 50 several weeks ago. I've still been having foot pain, and honestly I've been losing my motivation to keep running. So, initially I thought I'd just look at this race as a "fun run". But come race morning, my inner-competitiveness kicked in and I knew I had to PR. Lauren brought up a good point, that we've PR'd every half marathon we've run so far except the Davis Moo-nlight (so hot!), so I had the urge to power through and PR again.

Lauren, Leti, Marissa, Heather, and I met up with one another before the race. Lauren, Leti, and I started together, and Marissa and Heather began with one another after us. I can't speak too much for them, but I do know that Marissa took off at mile 2, and Lauren and I separated from Leti shortly after the first mile.

I started the race at a much faster pace than I normally run, and I was okay with that. I knew that I would be running 8:1 intervals, so I felt comfortable with running faster knowing that I'd get a walk break pretty soon. Lauren and I completed the first 3 miles or so with an average pace of about 9'40'' per mile. Soon after the third mile marker our pace slowed down to around 10 minutes per mile. We kept this pace until mile 7.5 where we took it a little bit slower. It was at this point that everyone started to notice their GPS watches were way off compared to the mile marker signs. I think this changed our mood and made us a tad less motivated because with an extra half mile, there was no way we could PR.

We did pick up our pace again around mile 12.5 though. Knowing that I was almost done gave me a burst of momentum. Hearing all of the cheering at the finish line from other SacFit members was so encouraging, and seeing Dan at the finish and my dad shortly after was also great.

The race director ended up taking the extra long course into consideration; he was able to officially recalculate all of our times. My recalculated time was 2:13:47 which means I did PR! Even though it is only by 33 seconds, a PR is a PR!
Now onto fuel and hydration. About an hour before the start, I ate a chocolate chip Clif bar, my go-to running breakfast. Throughout the race there were aid stations with water and an electrolyte drink about every other mile. I ended up drinking a cup of electrolytes every time, except for the last mile. I didn't want to waste any time stopping with just a mile left, and I felt fine so I knew I'd be okay without it. I carried my handheld water bottle throughout the entire race as well, and ended up drinking a total of 20 ounces of water while I was running. I ate eight Clif shot blocks as well: 3 around mile 5, 3 around mile 10, and 2 around mile 12. This particular regimen of water, electrolytes, and fuel worked out perfectly for me.

What's cool about this race is that there is an entirely separate course just for walkers. They start at the same location as the runners, but run in the opposite direction. Both courses are an out-and-back route, so that walkers and runners finish at the same point. My mom walked her very first half marathon which is pretty neat. We all were able to witness her cross the finish line which I think and hope she appreciated.

This year's race weather was so much nicer than last year. Compared to last year's dreaded heat, this year's early morning fog and slightly overcast, yet dry sky was perfect. As of now, my next race is not till June...but I should probably start running more regularly again.