Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ojai Half Marathon

The Ojai Half Marathon took place this last weekend, making my second half marathon of the year and my first one in almost two months. I have been trying to be true to my 2013 goal of backing off on my racing and focusing on my training. So far, it’s been a struggle, but I’ve seen good progress in my running. I just have to keep resisting the register now button.

Elite Sports California put on this race and the Seaside half which I ran in February. I’ve heard some rumbling complaints about them, but I have had zero problems with them. The race was well organized, the aid stations were well stocked and volunteers were plentiful. Bonus, it was a small enough race that I was able to pick up my packet on race morning. This race as well as with the last one were well priced and I managed to get them both at a discount by keeping an eye on them.

Predictably, the night before the race I could not fall asleep! I don’t know why I get pre-race nerves! I wasn’t even worried about this race, but then I usually don’t worry about any of them. The weather report was predicting heat, but it ended up being a very pleasant day. The marine layer didn’t burn off till a few miles into the race and it didn’t really warm up till I was finishing.
My Dad and Mom decided to come along and cheer me on, so we all piled into the car around 5:30am for the hour drive down to Ojai. We got there just as packet pickup opened, so I walked right up without having to wait. The man working the table asked me if I was running the half and got me my stuff. Two girls walked up behind me, both in bright color coordinated outfits and he asked them if they were running the 5k, which they were. I love that people at races now predict I’m there for the half marathon, but what makes one person look like a half marathoner over a 5ker?
Beautiful Ojai along the route
The start of the race was a little funny. They did have a wave start, but since it was such a small race, each section for the waves were pretty tiny. They sent each wave two minutes apart, but they really only needed one. I joined the 10+ group since I wasn’t predicting a PR time. When they released the 9 minute group, two volunteers yelled “Ok everyone go”, so we all started going. The man on the microphone started yelling “No, ten minute group stop!” I started laughing. It was too late, most of us had already gone over the mat and I wasn’t about to stop when the clock was now going.

Some road

Lot's of bike path

Not even a half mile into the race, I realized I really needed to pee! That never happens to me! Even during my marathon, I didn’t have to stop even once. Well my bladder felt like it was going to explode, so at the very first aid station, I hit the port-a-potty. I was in total panic mode. I could feel the seconds ticking by. I absolutely hate having to loose time!
For about the first three or four miles we were running on a bike path, with runners going one direction on the right and runners going back on the left. I can understand why they did this since they had a 5k and a 10k running with the half marathon, but it made things very tight! When the 10k quickies started catching my pace group it made things a little hard. I ended up running up the side on some dirt and tweaking my ankle on a curb under the weeds. Thankfully it didn’t fully roll, so it didn’t bug me till that evening.
As soon as the 10kers peeled off things spread out and became much more comfortable. We continued mostly on bike path, but sometimes on the street. At one point we ran past a Wendy’s and I got a ginormous craving for a chocolate shake! Around mile six we came up along Lake Casitas and wow, what a view. The marine layer was hanging out just above the water and the sun was shining!
Lake Casitas from the route
Around mile seven we hit the one major hill of the race and it seemed to go on forever! Up, up, up! I then understood the jokes about mile seven I had been hearing at the starting line! I thought, “just around the next bend it will end… no, just around the next one.” I ended up chatting with a lot of runners in this section of the race. I started the conversations usually asking if they knew how long the hill was and then it usually ended with us joking about the evil of hills for a while. I was power walking and easy jogging my way up, my original plan had been to walk it, but that was before I had known how long it was. One guy told me that since we kept passing each other, he felt like he was going backwards.
My hill buddies powering up
Up to the killer hill, things had mostly been softly rolling, after the killer hill, things were seriously rolling. At four miles out, I was feeling so good that I wanted to run it in, then I’d come around another bend and then there would be another hill. My intervals got a little sporadic at that point. I’d walk the hills if they were short and run however far was in-between. I was making great time, in fact, till the evil hill I’d been making PR time, but I was never able to make up the time I lost to that sucker.

Almost done!
A mile out, I started leaving my friendly pace group behind and started catching people I hadn’t seen before. I started picking people off till I realized that I was just around the corner from the finish! I caught a girl just in front of the school where the finish was and then dug deep and sprinted, catching one more girl just feet from the finish line. I finished with a chip time of 2:13:52, making it my third best half marathon time. If I hadn’t taken that pit stop at the beginning, it probably would have easily been my second best time! I can’t wait to get on a flat course and blow my PR away! Must resist the shiny register now button!
Cool bling and my favorite color!
My awesome parents were several places along the course taking pictures of me and my mom bought me a chocolate shake on the way home. I maybe an adult, but I still feel spoiled to have such wonderful parents!
Daddio wondering what's taking me so long