I loved so many parts of this race, except for the actual running of it See Jane Run is my fourth half marathon. This wasn’t a goal race for me; it just fit well into my training plan for my A race, which is the Summer Breeze Half Marathon at the San Leandro Marina in August. Unfortunately, I’d been sick for the ten days before this race. Going into it, I hoped I’d just be super tapered and ready to run.
This is the first half marathon I’ve done all by myself, without even a spectator for support. It was a little lonely, but also nice to go on my own schedule. I got up super early (4 AM!) and made my usual pre-race breakfast, a small portion of steel cut oats with a banana and almond butter. I ate this at 4:30, and looking back that was much too far before the race, and probably why I felt like I was lacking in energy by mile 2. I packed myself up and headed out of the house at 5:30, getting to Alameda at 6. I got lost several times once I actually made it to Alameda and was glad I gave myself the extra time so I wasn’t anxious. I found parking and started walking towards the white tents I had seen. Unfortunately, I was at the finish line, and had to get redirected to the start line to get my timing chip.
I was really disappointed to see that the timing chip was an ankle strap. I already found it a little strange that you couldn’t pick up your chip with your number and race packet. I was hoping at least that the chips would be the kind that you tied into your shoe laces. This was my first race with an ankle chip, and it was NOT comfortable. I slicked up my ankle with body glide, but I still got some nasty cuts from the velcro strap. At least my chip stayed on; I heard some horror stories at the finish line of women whose chips had fallen off during the race.
I was at the start line plenty early, and I was actually the first one to use the porta-potty, which is always nice. People started trickling in, and the atmosphere was full of excitement. I spent all morning hoping that it wouldn’t rain, but I was nervous that I felt plenty warm in my capris and t-shirt. Two miles into the race, I would be overheating and wishing for rain. At one point I think I performed a half-hearted rain dance.
I didn’t find the start to be too crowded, but I didn’t even hear anyone yell “Go!” It was just really quiet, and then we were off. Next year I think we should start to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” or another fun song. For the first three miles, I nailed my goal pace of 9:30. I tried to go into the race with no expectations because I had been sick, but I never really succeed in that goal. Based on two key workouts (a 9 mile run with an average 9:01 pace, and a 10 mile progression run that started with a 10:30 mile and ended with an 8:20 mile, negative splitting for all 10 miles), I though 9:30 was a good goal pace. As we went up and over a bridge, I started seriously overheating. I felt like it was really warm, but worse, it felt incredibly humid. I started wishing it would just rain. Things started to fall apart after the first three miles.
I was already feeling tired, so I took my first gu (Cherry Lime Roctane = awesome) at mile 4. I thought maybe my super early breakfast was the problem, and I hoped I’d feel better after the gu. I felt a little better, but was totally unable to maintain my 9:30 pace. The water stations were inadequately staffed, and I had to wait for water at every station. Also, only one of the water stops along the way had Gatorade which was frustrating. I continued to chug along, but found the office park scenery boring. With very few exceptions, there were almost no spectators. However, there was one woman on a bike who just kept appearing to cheer us on along the course. I must have seen her 4 or 5 times, and she boosted my spirits every time. I was able to find her at the finish line and thank her. She made the race that much better for me!
By mile 7, I knew that any goal time was totally out the window, and I recalibrated my goals to just run the whole way to the finish. I saw the mile 9 marker, but my Garmin only showed 8.6 miles. I assumed my Garmin was wrong (I’d had trouble getting satellites that morning), and started off on a flurry of mental calculations. I’ve never been very successful at doing math while running, so this occupied me for quite a while. If I was really at mile 9, maybe I wasn’t that far off a 2:11 finish at least. I tried to pick up speed a little bit. I went back over the bridge, and never saw a mile 10 marker. I took my second Roctane as I came over the bridge, figuring I had just 3 miles or less to go. Based on where I was, and my recalculated distance, the next marker I expected to see was a 12 mile marker, well down the road. When I came up on the 11 mile marker, I wanted to cry. At that point I realized that my Garmin actually was right, and the mile 9 marker had just been in the wrong spot.
I was overheating and felt like I was getting slower with each step. I tried to tune into my music (at least my playlist was awesome!), and just stay with the people around me. At the 12 mile aid station, I was hoping for some Gatorade, but there was only water. I was able to pick it up for the last mile, and sprinted (it felt like sprinting anyways!). I saw my heart rate hit 204 on my Garmin (I didn’t even know that was possible, 196 is the highest I’ve ever seen!), and I was so relieved to cross the finish line. A girl handed me a medal, and another volunteer took off my ankle chip for me. I finished in 2:20:01 (those two seconds are so annoying!). My Garmin showed 13.12 for the distance, so at least I did a good job running the tangents on the course.
I was really disappointed with my time, but it truly was the best I had in me on that day. My cold isn’t completely gone, and I kept coughing for the whole race. I also repurposed my lululemon key cuff into a tissue (gross, I know, but you do what you have to do!). Seeing my heart rate hit 204 was also a huge surprise. I gave everything I had on that day, and even though it was no where near my goal and didn’t reflect my training, I’m still proud that I didn’t give up. In August I’ll just be able to blow my California half marathon PR away. The finish line expo was great fun, and I got my champagne glass and enjoyed my champagne, toasting the other runners around me. I bought a great shirt, grabbed a ton of free samples, and had by far the BEST free finish line massage ever.
I’m excited to get back to training, especially back to speed work which I always find rewarding and effective. Thanks to See Jane Run for a great race. There were a few hiccups, but all things that could be easily fixed for next year (different chips and more volunteers at the water stations!), and the overall atmosphere of the race was full of fun and girl power. I can’t wait for the Summer Breeze Half in August, because I’m going to blow that 2:20 absolutely out of the water