USA Half Marathon San Diego {Recap}

I’m so freaking proud of this race.

It was tough and it was ugly but I finished–leaving nothing on the course. Nothing.

I knew from seeing the course elevation map that it would be hilly in the beginning, but I was really unprepared for how hilly it actually was. I knew as soon as I started that my goal of sub 2 hours would be a long reach.

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I began with brf Runner Jenny and we took the first hill slowly–it was seriously right at the start. And the next one too. Except it wasn’t really all that slow for me as the first two hilly miles were 9:35 and 9:42–for me, that’s a really good pace going up.

For Runner Jenny though, that was cruising and at mile 3 I told her to go on her own. I just couldn’t keep up. I could see her every now and then turn around to see how far back I was ❤ , but I kept falling farther and farther behind. And then I couldn’t see her anymore 😦

So I decided to run my own race, only checking my watch when the mile would beep.

At mile 3 I settled in my own pace and miles 3 and 4 sounded off at 9:21 and 9:25. I had  left my goal behind at the start so I didn’t have that pressure of trying to maintain a certain pace–I was just running. But I surprised myself at mile 5 with an 8:51.

Mile 6 was a downhill and I just rolled with it. Again, I wasn’t looking at my watch and when it beeped, I was shocked to see 8:03!!! Whoa!!! Slow down, Hell!

It was right after this mile that as I was running along, I saw someone on the sidelines cheering people on. He had no sign or crowd and seemed to be cheering everyone, not just one particular person.

It was Meb!!!

I veered to the right so I could high five him! I was surprised he wasn’t surrounded–I totally would’ve stopped to take a pic if I had had my phone.

Mile 7 sounded off at 8:54 and I was shocked again to see it be a sub 9–the downhill definitely helped.

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It was here that the course seemed to flatline but there were still some baby hills along the course. I cursed each and every one of them.

I managed a 9:13 mile 8 and was really happy to have it be a lowish 9. I started doing some math (I’m really not good at it) and I realized I still had a shot at a sub 2–I’d have to work though.

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Mile 9, 9:24. Not as low as I would’ve liked but still good.

Then the cramps started.

Miles 10 (9:40) and 11 (9:42) were me struggle bussing but I refused to stop. I stuck my tongue out at the photographer at the top of a hill (because really, who puts a photographer at the top of a hill?) The 2:00 pacer reached me at mile 11 and I told myself I could stay with her for two miles. Just do it, Helly.

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Mile 12, 9:01.

And then……. the mile from hell.

I knew I had one mile left. If I could just get through this mile, I’d get a sub 2. It would be ridiculously close, but it was possible.

Except it wasn’t. My legs cramped up into rock solid masses of crampage–it almost brought me to a complete stop. I was in so much pain, pain I hadn’t felt ever in a race. I saw the pacer roll past me and I wanted so badly to hang on. But I couldn’t. For the life of me, I could not run faster.

I turned the corner towards the finish line broken. My teammates were on the side line and I yelled for them to call for my husband. I knew it was going to be an ugly finish. I was limping, dragging my right leg (that one hurt the most). I had cramps everywhere–toe cramps, foot cramps, ankle cramps, shin cramps, calf cramps, hamstring cramps–my entire legs were cramping.

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The announcer saw me approaching and said through his mic, “I don’t care if you walk, limp, crawl across the finish, just do it!!”

And that’s exactly what I did, screaming in pain and collapsing as soon as I crossed.

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I was immediately picked up by the medics and my husband found me not too long after. I was screaming so loud; I’m sure there are people who I traumatized, but the pain was so intense–I felt like my muscles were ripping apart.

I was giving water and electrolytes and they placed ice all around my legs and it was a while before I started to feel better. Just when I thought I was in the clear, the cramps came back on both legs in full force. Screams again.

The medics asked what I had consumed throughout the race and I told them I had been carrying Tailwind (electrolytes) and had taken water at a few of the water stations as well–even my Gu at mile 7. I had no idea why this was happening; I felt like I had done everything right.

I know I need to get myself checked. I think my diet might be my issue–maybe I’m deficient in some vitamin or nutrient?? I don’t know, but it was definitely scary what happened to me and I def don’t want it to happen again.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 2:01:15 and I was so proud of myself for getting that close to two hours on a hilly course I was so unprepared for and with cramps the entire last mile (which I ended up running in 9:13 and realized I really had no chance of a sub two unless I had ran an 8 something last mile–I’m really bad at math).

Several of my teammates walked away with PRs (included Runner Jenny) and my husband snagged a new PR as well 😀 It was nice to have so much good stuff to overshadow my awful ending and once I was out of the medic tent, I was all smiles.

my AZTNT team

my AZTNT team

with my favorite <3

with my favorite ❤

The Bad:

  • The Expo left A LOT to be desired. Granted, we got there on the second night about 30 minutes before it closed, but there were maybe 5 booths open?? I saw nothing with the race’s name on it that I could purchase.

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  • Little to no crowd support. But you got Meb and maybe that’s really all you need.
  • The jacket is of poor quality (in my opinion) the letters look like they’ll fade after a few washes but it’s cool to have a jacket –even though it has no pockets 😦 and they gave it to you in a cheap plastic bag (no race swag bag). So yeah….
  • They said they’d cap the race at 5,000 but only half registered. I definitely felt there was very little hype about this race. Someone needs to hire a social media person (I’m available, USA Half Marathon!).
  • Very little crowd support.
  • San Diego is expensive.  (Holy cow, parking=$)
  • Finding your official time after the race was confusing. The website said “Coming Soon” the entire day–I was able to find it through a friend who registered for tracking through Chrono Track.

The Good:

  • The race had a 2:30 time limit so you really felt the competitive atmosphere (which I liked). Going uphill, I seriously saw no one walking and that motivated me to not walk.
  • Meb.
  • The medal is pretty sweet. It’s nice and heavy and the ribbon is pretty.

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  • Free pictures. Soooo nice in a day and age where race pictures cost a fortune.
  • Post race snacks a plenty!! They had so much left over, they let runners take boxfulls home with them–made for great road trip snacks.
  • Shout out to the medical staff! xoxo!
  • San Diego is beautiful. The weather was absolutely amazing–I mean, 70 degrees in mid November? Yes, please!!!
  • The host hotel, The Westin San Diego Gas Lamp Quarter, was beautiful and worth every penny.

Notes:

  • This is a qualifying race so for my age group 30-35 I had to have ran a sub 2 hour half marathon. They plan on making the requirements more competitive in the future but I’m not sure if that’ll happen soon considering they barely got half of their estimated entries this year.
  • I would do it again. 🙂

–Have you ran an inaugural race before?

–Do you like the idea of a qualifying half marathon?

–Ever high-fived an elite?

 

 

 

Where Is Running Taking Me This Time? {The Friday Five!}

So, Wednesday was National Running Day and I posted how I had done some pre-celebrating, I celebrated the day of, and I’m continuing the celebration by sharing with you:

Where is Running Taking Helly now??

I’m linking up with the DC Trifecta Ladies Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney on their Friday Five  to share with you the new (and old) places I’ll be heading to this year and next 🙂

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know I’ve been able to see and go to some fabulous places and run–(ahem, can I go back to Spain please?). I’ve got some news to share:

1. Mt. Humphreys 

I love me some trail running/hiking and last year I was lucky enough to hike the Grand Canyon and complete R2R2R. Mt. Humphreys is also in Arizona and it’s actually the highest point in the state with an elevation of 12,637ft!

from the USDA website:

Humphreys Trail is steep and long and extremely rocky in its higher reaches. Above treeline it exposes you completely to the whims of nature. Here it may snow during any month of the year. In late summer monsoon storms can set the high country snapping with lightning. Be prepared to turn around and head for lower ground if a thunderstorm is brewing!

Once you do reach the summit ridge you’ll feel like you’re standing on top of the world. Off in the distance, the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the mesas that are home to the Hopi Indians the Verde Valley and Oak Creek Canyon form a 360 degree panorama. And after you’ve seen it you’ll be able to say you’ve been as high as you can get in Arizona.

To say I’m excited is an understatement! I’ll be making this trek in August (with my husband!) and I CANNOT wait!

yes, please!

yes, please!

2. Vancouver here I come!

I’ve never been to Canada but in September, that’s where I’ll be! My husband has a work trip out there and he’s decided this would be a great opportunity for me to meet him and explore together.

I’ve heard about some great trails in and near Vancouver and I’m looking forward to finding and choosing one to do. I actually came across a blogger who wrote about a trail in Vancouver she really liked. I got so excited and commented how I was going to be there in a few months but do you think I wrote down the trail she took? Or her blog site? (I had done a google search.) Though, I’m sure I won’t have any trouble finding somewhere to run, so don’t you worry 🙂

3. Chicago Marathon

Ahhh!!!! I’m so freaking excited about this one!!! As you know, I’m raising money for the Ronald McDonald House (donate here if you’re so inclined ❤ ) and so far, it has been such an incredible time. I’ve gotten to know people fundraising through the Facebook page and we get weekly e-mails of motivation from the team leaders. We were even provided with a training schedule that I liked so much I’ve decided to follow it instead of my usual Hal.

It’s also going to be my husband’s first marathon which adds to the specialness of this race. He is amazing, so supportive, and I’m just completely a mess over this guy. I’m so excited for him to go through the journey of training for a marathon and running one and seeing how much it changes you. He’s seen it change me.

4. USA Half Marathon Invitational: San Diego, CA

You might have heard about this new race being billed the “Boston” of  1/2 Marathons. It’s a 1/2 marathon that requires a qualifying time to register. The times are generous (I still think it’s tough lol!) because of its newness but I anticipate–and the race says so itself–the times will become more competitive as the race increases in popularity.

My qualifying time for my age group (30-35) is 2:00.

from the race website:

With so many fun runs, mud runs, and color runs being launched nationwide, we noticed a decline in the production of competitive endurance events in the United States. This race was developed to encourage recreational runners to set new goals and challenges for themselves. The USA Half Marathon is the first “Qualifiers Only” half marathon, designed for elite, sub-elite, and competitive runners.

Runners receive a qualifier’s jacket (ala Boston), a medal, and a finisher’s certificate.

The race is in San Diego in November. Now, San Diego is only a 6 hour drive from Phoenix but I’ve never been there! I’m pretty pumped that my first San Diego race will be an inaugural one and one that I think will be a pretty sweet race.

5. R2R2R (again!)

I’m heading back to the Canyon!!!!!

I said the only way I’d ever do this again was if my husband did it with me. Well, he’s been getting pretty into this running business and agreed to go with me next year! So, R2R2R 2016 will happen!

It’s not a race and we don’t run the entire thing, nor do we complete it in one day (although you can and some in my group have!) If you’re a new reader, you can check out my posts describing this 2 day adventure of 20+ miles a day, here and here.

the edge of glory

the edge of glory

I’m so excited about my running future. Even more so because it’s become my husband’s too–all 5 things I named we’ll be doing together!!! With the exception of Vancouver, we’ll also be doing all of this awesomeness with my running group AZTNT. This group has become my family, and I’ve been able to do some amazing things because of them and I’m so, so very grateful.

 

And there you have it!! With running, you never know where you’ll be heading to next! 🙂

I hope all of you have a great weekend!! ❤ , helly

–Any exciting race-cations planned? 

–Which of the 5 interest you? Would you want to cross the Grand Canyon twice?