I haven’t raced a lot this year, but I have raced strategically. My main running goal going into 2014 was to challenge myself in new ways. From joining a local running group, finishing strong at the hilly La Jolla ½ in the spring and running my first true trail race in July to working on my speed and using that process to run one of my fastest half marathon times in years at this past weekend’s inaugural Celebration Run at Mission Bay – it’s all been part of the journey.
G and I are both running the California International Marathon on December 7 (whee!), but I wanted to throw a half marathon into the mix to test my speed prior to the full next month. When I chose the Celebration Run, I had no clue it was the first year for the race, but I have to say it was incredibly well run – and they even mailed my race packet to me at no extra charge! PSA: The Celebration Run is coming to Boston and Denver is 2015.
I’ve noticed that the more consistent I am with eating well and getting 7-8 hours of sleep, the better my long runs have become and I was excited to test it out this morning. I woke up about 4:30, ate a piece of toast with Nutella and drank water with a Nuun electrolyte tab and a half-cup of coffee. I left my house about 5:30 and was elated when parking was a breeze – I was lucky enough to snag a spot in the parking lot next to the start line and was able to relax, get my race shirt, and eat my banana without feeling rushed.
I found my friend B at the start line – we actually met trudging up the mile-long hill at the end of the America’s Finest City half marathon more than a year ago and since have ended up running many of the same local races. While we don’t always run together, it’s nice to see a familiar face and catch up.
At 7 we were off and running! Since I’m not too familiar with the various Mission Bay inlets (and clearly hadn’t studied the course map close enough), I was surprised to encounter several hills along the course (mostly bridges, but there are quite a few in that area). My goal was stay ahead of the 2:10 pacer for as long as I could, and I did for the first 9+ miles. By this point I was kicking out a lot of salt and I stopped more frequently for Gatorade/water for the duration of the race, slowing my pace a bit.
I knew G was going to be at the finish line waiting for me, and once I passed the Mile 12 marker, I gave it my best effort to push me through to the end at Bonita Cove in 2:12:35 … 9+ minutes faster than my finish at La Jolla in April!
I know running is literally a marathon, not a sprint, and improvement takes time – no matter what the goal. I’m excited to see where I am by the time spring racing season rolls around. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to CIM in a few weeks, and spending the holidays with family. After that, big plans for 2015!
What about you? How have you seen your goals become reality in 2014?