this race was scheduled to start at 6 am. i woke up at 3 am (now, i’m a morning person, but boy, that felt early), was out the door by 3:50 am, met jimmy at the metro station at 4:20 am, and we were at start line by 5 am. (this is my second year running this race and second time opting for the metro option instead of trying to park in the center of hollywood.) we immediately headed for the porta poties. the lines were crazy long, both at the start line and for the porta poties on the course, but luckily we had an hour before the scheduled start time. (i cannot figure out why races don’t have more porta potties, i have never run a race and thought the amount was excessive.)
this race was fun because a huge group from fleet feet burbank was running the race and we were able to mostly stick together at the start and finish line. we traveled to/from the metro stop together, huddled and chatted before the race, and found each other after the race to continue to cheer for our group and to take a group picture.
my goal going in to this race was to break 2 hours (in non-runner speak: finish the race in under 2 hours). my previous record (last year at the hollywood half marathon) was 2:10. when talking to my friend amy about my goal before the race (about how nervous i was and didn’t think i could do it), she told me to think about it as “attempt #1”. i liked that.
we didn’t start running until after 6:25 am. i guess that this was mostly because the cops had to make sure all the streets were closed. i didn’t mind, i was still waking up. but amy had to be somewhere by 9, and the later it started, the later she would be.
finally, we started. the first mile was incredibly crowded. we started in the 9:00 minute/mile corral and yet people were walking all around us. it was incredibly frustrating. the people also weren’t courteous to walk on the side of the route. they would walk in groups 3 or 4 across right in the middle of the course. i almost yelled, “walk on the side of the course!!!” but resisted. probably for the better.
now this course is mostly awful. i say that because it is 1. not very flat and 2. a constant string of “out and backs”. this means you’re constantly passing the people ahead or behind you. it was fun to look for and see my friends, but it also messed with my mind. running downhill to see the people .25 miles ahead of you walking up the same hill is rough. it’s also not very scenic. we didn’t travel very far and we saw the same sights over and over. for the “hollywood” half marathon, we were only really in the touristy part of hollywood for a couple miles out of the 13.
i decided to use a handheld for water instead of my pack. i figured with the shorter distance, it would be more comfortable. i did not take into consideration 1. if i had to use the restroom, it would be heavy, and 2. my arms would be sore from climbing on thursday. a few miles in, my left arm was tired and sore. i couldn’t believe what a wimp i was. this was a running race. legs. why was my arm sore? why would i let a sore arm slow my legs down? i tried switching hands to hold the bottle, but it felt weird having my right arm hold it.
at around mile 9, the 2:00 pacer passed me. she had started behind me, so i knew i would have to beat her to break 2 hours. when she passed me, at first i was a bit distraught, but then i just figured that even if i didn’t break 2 hours, i would still get a personal record. this was still good. it was attempt #1.
at mile 11.5, i saw erin. she was cheering across the street from the finish line. the absolute worst part of this already pretty crummy course is that you have to pass the finish line and start running away from it until a turnaround at about mile 12.25. then you run back and finish the race. i asked erin if i could give her my handheld water bottle (which also contained my phone and gels) and she said of course. after ditching this weight, i flew. i’m not sure if it was mental or if my sore arm and extra weight was really slowing me down, but boy i felt so much better. after the turn around (about mile 12.3) i passed the 2:00 pacer. while passing her, i heard her say that she was going to finish in 1:58. i couldn’t tell how much further i had to run (my watch was off after a couple of turns we had to cut due to crowds or cars in the course) but was trying to do the math and see if i could break 2. i heard music up ahead and thought it was the finish line. i pushed. then realized it was just a dj. i kept pushing, trying to not kill myself by going too quickly but also constantly checking my watch to see if i could do it. finally i saw the bend. i pushed.
i crossed in 1:58:56. four. seconds.
i got my medal and free food (i only asked for 1 water bottle but apparently those who asked for more were turned down) and immediately wanted to find erin. not only did i want to thank her for coming out and cheering, but she had my water bottle with my phone inside. if i couldn’t find her, i was stuck.
i saw bear in the finish line area and we walked out of the finish line area and across the street to meet erin. we saw amy pass us and then walked to find the rest of the fleet feet crew. once amy and a couple others crossed the finish line, we got a group picture and took the metro back home.
this course had ample water stations (that i didn’t use due to a full bladder and heavy handheld) and 1 gu stop (with no volunteers, just open boxes).
i know i already mentioned this, but my biggest grief with this race (even more than the course) was the people “running” it. i use quotations because they weren’t running, they were walking. the corrals were set up so the front was elite, then 6:00/mile, 7:00/mile, 8:00/mile, etc. we were in the 9:00/mile group behind the 1:50 pacer. i immediately lost the pacer at the start because of all the people walking that i had to run around. this is partly due to the fact that it was no only the half marathon start, but also the 5k and 10k. but still, even if you’re running a shorter distance, you should be honest about your pace time. i don’t know if organization or stricter corrals could fix this or what. considering all of the zigzags to get around people in the first 3 miles, i am especially proud of my time.
i am very comfortable running a 10:00-10:30 pace. i can do it for hours. i have never pushed myself around a 9:00-9:30 pace for so long. my miles were all between 8:59-9:27. i didn’t think i could do that, and i’m so happy i now know i can.
four seconds. whew.