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Another weekend, another race. Like I said in a previous post, I have had a race every other weekend since July 4th; I think I’m in need of a break. The good news is that it doesn’t look like I will have any races for the next couple of weeks, which is good. So the America’s Finest City (AFC) Half Marathon is the 3rd race in the Half Marathon Triple Crown. It wasn’t as tough as the La Jolla Half Marathon, but I wasn’t able to beat my PR that I got when I ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon either. Here are the results: 1:32:08, 32/425 Age Group, 188/6646 Overall. As I was driving home from this race, I was trying to figure out how I felt about my overall performance. The time is technically my 2nd best half marathon time, it’s just looking at my splits, I felt like I could have gotten a lot closer (or even beaten) my PR, even with the dreaded ‘6th Avenue Hill’ at mile 11.5. This race felt very similar to my first half marathon. I ran it a little too hard at the beginning and ran out of gas toward the last few miles. However this time, it was more like the last 2-3, rather than 5-6, which is a definite improvement. But now that I have had time to reflect (and sleep!), I realize that it was a very solid effort, nothing to be sad about, then again it feels like I say that about all of my races. I heard that this race a couple of years ago was terrible because of the heat. I couldn’t have asked for better race conditions today, you could even say it was perfect racing weather! It was also well organized and I got my ridiculously big Triple Crown medal, really not much to complain about.

 

 

This is the first race that I’ve ran where getting dropped off at the starting line was not allowed (vehicle access was not allowed). What this meant was that I had to get up even earlier to avoid traffic, find parking at the finish and ride the shuttle to the start. I got up just before 4AM, it’s the earliest I’ve ever gotten up for a race (or anything for that matter). But I went to sleep early enough, so it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t hit any traffic, there was plenty of parking and I was able to catch a ride to the start with no issues. I thought it was funny how people were waiting for the race to start though. It’s 5AM, the sun’s not out yet and there are absolutely no lights anywhere, so people are just sitting on the curb in the dark! What was nice was that there were speakers out playing music; listening to music in the dark, not weird at all! The one thing I loved about getting to the race so early was that I didn’t have to wait for the restrooms. I was actually able to go twice and barely had to wait! But as it got closer to the start, the lines did get pretty long. When I was waiting in line the 2nd time, I heard people talking about how others were stuck in traffic or they couldn’t find parking. I’m very fortunate to have never been late to a race before and I hope that never happens in the future. I know it’s not a big deal since everyone has their own timing chip, but still. If you are late, you won’t have the opportunity to compete with others at your level, which is one way to really help push yourself during a race.

 

 

So the race finally got under way and it actually went a lot better than I had expected. There were a few rolling hills in the first few miles and a fair amount of downhills too. I was able to run a lot faster than usual but without feeling as fatigued as I would normally feel running at that pace. My splits were sort of all over the place: 7:04, 7:03, 6:26, 5:48, 6:43, 6:56, 6:57, 6:48, 6:59, 7:10, 7:27, 7:58, 7:36. I’m very surprised about the 5:48 split. I know there was quite a bit of downhills during those miles, so I didn’t even bother looking at my watch and just let gravity do all the work. Following the downhills were a couple of miles of flat, which was nice (but there was a part of the course that was pretty boring, just some random loop). It really felt like the miles were just passing by pretty quickly, which was nice! Even though it wasn’t that hot out, I was still thirsty throughout and got water almost every time. I do remember either at the 10K or 10 mile mark (big difference, I know), my face/head got super hot. I wasn’t sure if I was getting dehydrated or if that was the first sign of heat exhaustion. Whatever it was, it either went away or I stopped noticing it after a while.

I knew the hill at the end of the race was approaching, but I didn’t know exactly after what street, so I kept looking out for it. Although it was a tough hill, it wasn’t too bad. However, my splits do say otherwise though. I’m thinking if I held back just a little bit during the middle flat miles, I would have had more energy toward the end of the race. I was pretty tired by the time I got to the hill. And once we got through the hill, I knew we were almost done, but it couldn’t have felt any longer. I did, however, pass like 6-7 people at the finishing stretch of the race. I usually don’t like to do that during longer races just because it doesn’t make that much of a difference (time-wise). But right before the finish was one last downhill (which felt great) so that just pushed me forward even more.

 

 

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s funny how people always talk about how ‘fun’ and ‘scenic’ races are, but to be honest, I didn’t notice that many sights while running my race (and usually don’t). I’m always too focused with the actual race, which is always why I never look very happy in my race photos. I was reading some race reports for people who ran it last year just to get a feel for the course and a few of them did run it ‘for fun’ which is something I have to really try one day. But to me, if I’m paying x dollars to run in a race, I’m going to run it as hard as I can. Probably need to change that mindset.

So I have a few weeks to rest before I have to start worrying about racing again. I signed up for a local 5K in September but only did because it’s on the lake that I run frequently, so it should be fun. There is another half marathon in November, which is actually the first half marathon I ran last year. It’ll be a good chance to improve on my time, but I sort of want to stay away from doing the same races, just to change things up. I’m waiting for the registration limit to get closer to capacity (currently at 62%) before I make my decision. Now that I think about it, I also have the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in LA in October. But that is still ways away, so I’ll worry about that probably in October...

 

Race report was written by Phong Chieng


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