Tag Archives: AFC Half Marathon Race Report

2012 AFC Half Marathon Race Report

AFC Half Marathon – Near Finish in Balboa Park

AFC is one of my favorite half marathons. I have run it for the last 3 years in a row and Mike has run it 5 years in a row. It’s a beautiful course in a beautiful city and training takes place in the summer where we can enjoy sunny morning and evening runs. As I mentioned in my race plan for AFC, due to recovery from the Ironman, general apathy toward training and recent humidity and heat in San Diego, I wasn’t expecting a PR. Of course in the back of my mind I thought I could surprise myself and push one out. I went into the race with 1 goal in mind – to have fun and that goal was definitely achieved! 

The race started like all previous years – a very early wake up call to get downtown (30 minute drive) and in line for the buses in time. AFC is a one way half marathon and all participants must be bused from the finish to the start line since the start line is in Cabrillo National Park and is closed to the public. we must have arrived later than last year because by the time we parked, walked to the buses, waited in line for the buses and got up to the start line, the sun was already up. Last year we sat in the dark for a very long time before the race began. This time we  had just under an hour to kill prior to the 7 a.m. start. Although our friends Vicky and Kelly joined us for the race, I was missing Asia, who due to a recent foot injury, withdrew her entry from the race. Jeremy still raced but Asia couldn’t even come down and cheer us on due to her foot.

The entire morning we discussed how unusually warm it was. Typically I’m freezing in the morning and wear a jacket but this time we were all sweating when we left Encinitas at 4:30 AM! The humidity was the worst part.

Pre-Race Photo!

We waited in bathroom lines, took photos, checked our bags and warmed up and were ready to go when the gun unexpectedly went off. Mike, who trained even less for this race than me, decided to run with his GoPro camera strapped to his head so he could take photos and video during the race. It was awesome because we got some great shots!

From AFC’s Facebook Page

Thousands of Runners Ready to Race!

Mike the Photographer!

My strategy was to not go out too fast but also not go so slow that I PRing was completely out of the picture. I carried a water bottle with 1 Nuun tab dissolved in it and carried salt pills with me to ensure I didn’t get too dehydrated. I typically rely on course aid for water during running races but I knew this race would require a lot of liquids to keep hydrated.

I ran the first mile comfortably, getting passed a ton since I started very close to the front. I had my new running mix on my iPhone and was just enjoying the scene in front of me – hundreds of runners wearing bright colors (and a lot of white!) making their way through the streets.

The first mile ticked off on my Garmin: 8:52.

I knew this was too slow so I kicked it up a little. The first two miles actually have quite a few rolling hills so I was slowing down on the uphills. The 2nd mile came at 8:49 and I started to pretty much accept that ha PR wasn’t happening (I’d have to run about a 8:30 min/mile for a PR). However, I was happy that I was running in the 8 min/miles since I haven’t been running that fast since many weeks prior to the Ironman.

Mile 3 and 4 have quite a bit of decline and the road is nice and shady for a large portion due to houses and large trees. I high fived kids cheering from the side of the road and ran through the mist of a hose that one of the neighbors was spraying on the runners. I was enjoying myself. Mile 3 ticked off at 8:22 and I figured if I could pick it up for Mile 4 then I could average out and still have a shot at PR. Mile 4 was 7:52 and Mile 5 rounded out at 8:20. Now my average pace was actually below my goal of 8:30, but the bad news was that the remaining miles were either flat or had a net incline. I knew it’d be hard work but I told myself that I needed to at least try.

Local Residents Help With the Heat

The adrenaline I had during Mile 5 disappeared in Mile 6 and I once 8:44 flashed on the screen, I was confident that a PR wasn’t in the cards for me. I knew if I really really pushed it, I could come in just above my PR, but I reminded myself that my #1 goal for today was to have fun, and that in order to have fun, I needed to step back a notch. So, I did, and started to enjoy myself more. I realized that having a time goal can  be quite a buzz kill during a race and that once I let go of any goal, I had more fun.

I knew I had given up when I walked through the next aid station. I wanted to ensure that I could enough water (my bottle was now gone) and also wanted a cup to pour on my head. This was right when we got on Harbor Island (this race is awesome except for the loop through Harbor Island because you feel like you are making no forward progress!). Mile 7 reflected my small break – 8:51.

The 2nd aid station on Harbor Island also has a mister and I took advantage of that as well as walked through this aid station.  I took a half a Gu at the aid station at mile 8 even though it wasn’t time yet because I knew there was a long way to go until the next aid station. I learned my lesson last year when I took a Gu without water and ended up with a stomach ache and dry mouth.

After we got off the island, we had a way to go until the next aid station. We ran toward downtown and this section seemed pretty long. Aid stations really  break up a race and when there is 2.5 miles without one on a very hot day, it can get mentally tough!

Mile 8 – 9:06

Mile 9 – 8:57

The aid station at Mile 10.5 was a saving grace. Not only was there more misters and plenty of water, as soon as we passed it and turned onto a busy street in downtown San Diego there was SHADE! It was glorious. I was soaking wet from pouring water all over myself and running through the mist and for the first time in weeks I got the chills from cold. It didn’t last long but it was nice!

Once you are downtown, the slight incline begins. Another fun part about downtown is that there are two points on the course that cross over trolley tracks. If you are unfortunate enough to arrive just before a Trolley crossing, you must wait. Mike has run AFC 5 times and this was his 2nd time waiting for the trolley. He got a good picture at least!

Watch Out for Trolleys!

I didn’t get caught at the trolley luckily, but Mile 10 still ticked off at 9:06. Mile 11 is when you start to run up A Street, which is a slight incline. This was the point where I just started thinking about how thankful I was to be in good enough health to run. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am to be in good enough health to easily run 13.1 miles and rather than getting caught up in PRing, I reminded myself to enjoy the race for itself. Mile 11 – 9:00.

Miles 12 and 13 are the tough ones. A Street gets steeper and once you turn onto 6th, the incline is not pretty. It was hot and the hill felt like a mountain. I decided not to look at my watch at all on 6th (I did look at it to see my total distance but avoided looking at the pace). I hit the 2nd to last aid station which was right before the turn up 6th  but skipped the one on 6th, knowing I had less than a mile to go. Plenty of people were walking up 6th but I told myself no matter how slow I was jogging, I wouldn’t walk. Once you reach the top and turn into Balboa Park, the incline isn’t over. After a short flat section, there is a slight hill going into the park. I was able to pick it up to a sub 9 min/mile at this point and was happy that I was still feeling fairly good,  much better than I did at this point the last two years. I knew I hadn’t pushed myself to my max and that I had some fuel left in the tank. Mile 12 -9:39, Mile 13 – 9:37.

The final stretch has a nice downhill. As I ran through gorgeous Balboa Park, I picked up the speed and finished strong.

.27 mile (I ran .17 extra!): 7:32 min/mile pace.

Official Race Time: 1:57:15  (8:57 min/mile pace ), 68/704 in age group, 1,143/6,635 overall (I actually moved up 2.5% percent in my age group despite running nearly 5 minutes slower than last year – the heat clearly was a factor this year!)

Garmin Data:

This was my first non-PR race. Before this race, I have raced 2 5ks, 2 marathons, 5 half marathons and 1 triathlon at all distances (sprint, Olympic, Half and Full Ironman). So really I’ve only had 6 “chances” to PR and this was my 7th chance and it didn’t happen. I knew this day would come and to be honest it wasn’t as bad as I thought! I think that you know going into a race if you worked hard enough and if your body is ready for a PR and I knew going into it that it was a long shot so I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t happen! Overall though, I enjoyed the race and had fun and that’s all that matters!

The one not so pleasant result of this non-PR (my time was actually even slower than my half marathon in Oceanside 70.3!) was the realization that I have a A LOT of work to do before I qualify for Boston. So much work that the possibility of it not happening next year has definitely crossed my mind. Although the heat and the recent Ironman was a factor, I know that I should be comfortably running sub 1:50 (or even 1:45) half marathons if I want to run a sub 3:35 full marathon. No matter what, I’m going to try my best to get there and if it doesn’t happen in 2013, that’s ok too. But I still intend to try!

Our 3rd AFC Half Together!

After hanging out in the finishers area, we met up with some more friends and went out to breakfast. After we drove home, Mike and I went down to the beach and enjoyed the beautiful San Diego day!

What was your first non-PR race?  Or are you not Type-A and not care about PRs (or still haven’t not PRed)!?

AFC Half Marathon Race Report

On Sunday I ran my 5th half marathon of my life and my 3rd of this year – of organized races, that is. While I trained for the Rock n Roll Marathon, I ran 13.1 miles or more nearly every weekend for two months. Since the marathon, long distance running has a new perspective. For example, a couple of weeks ago I went for a 10 mile run before work. No longer is a 7-10 mile run a “special run” that involves a pasta dinner the night before and is only reserved for Saturday mornings. This is a huge change from my perspective while training for this same race last year.

AFC 2010 vs. AFC 2011

A lot can change in a year and a ton of progress can be made! Not only did my mental attitude toward long distance running shift, my physical performance improved.  Last year I ran the AFC half marathon in a disappointing 2:01:59, so close to my goal of breaking 2 hours.  Last year I tapered the week before the race and actually only worked out one time in the week leading up to it due to a bruised foot. I carbo-loaded, rested and prayed. The day after the race I was wiped out- exhausted and sore for days.  This year I completed 7 workouts in the six days leading up to the race and finished in a 1:52:24 and was less sore the day after than I was after P90X Legs and Back and previous week. Could it be – half marathons are becoming easy?

Obviously no race is “easy” since by definition a race pushes you to your brink. Admittedly, although my time dropped 2 minutes from my last half marathon in La Jolla, this race was more difficult for me than that one. The final two miles were pretty brutal and my running partner Asia ended up dropping me like I was hot going up the hill and finished 30 seconds ahead of me. I finished La Jolla strong and probably with some reserves left. AFC took every ounce of energy from me. Although there could be several reasons for the change, the feeling that I have is that it has to do with my diet. Prior to the last race I was eating very healthy and following the P90X nutrition plan semi-religiously. This time I was following the nutrition plan haphazardly and not thinking twice about “cheat meals,” which have become a 3 or more time a week occurrence these days. Specifically, my office went to the races on Friday night and I ate a bunch of kettle corn, chips and dip and cookies and then Mike and I had burgers for dinner. Not exactly the best pre-race fuel. In general, I’ve let my healthy eating habits slip due to vacations, weddings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, BBQs, etc. I’m about 2-3 lbs heavier than I was on race day last time as well.

Race Details

View of the City From the Start

I’ll spare you the mile by mile details, but I will say that perhaps getting to this race is more difficutl than running it. Since we now live in North County San Diego, we had to wake up at 3:15 a.m. in order to leave our house by 3:45 a.m. to guarantee a spot in line for the buses by 5 a.m. (if you aren’t in line by 5:30 you aren’t racing). A main freeway to the start was closed and we anticipated heavy traffic. However, we ended up taking a side street shortcut and arriving at 4:45. It was still dark even after the 20 minute or so bus ride to the start line.

We got our two bathroom stops in with plenty of time to make our way to the front(ish) of this mass start race. I started the race with Asia and Jen, and we didn’t spend nearly as much time weaving in and out of people as we did last year when we started at the back (due to bathroom lines). The first four miles or so are mostly rolling hills with a net decline. Our average pace coming out of them was a 8:15 overall and although at times I felt we were going a little fast, I felt good. The goal was to stay below 8:40 in order to PR. I took a GU at about mile 5 and ended up having to wait a mile or so for water to wash it down with.

Our pace crept up a  bit during the flat portion and by the time we exited Harbor Island we were up to a 8:25 overall average pace. Somewhere on Harbor Island we gotten ahead of Jen.  I still felt good at this point, although not as great as the start. I took a GU around this time and ended up regretting it because I was without water for nearly 1.5 miles again. My mouth was dry and I had yet another side cramp (I had about 4 during the race in total). At around mile 10 I was starting to have some negative thoughts due to my dehydration and cramping. Luckily soon after I complained to Asia about this, we hit the water station that has a water mist gauntlet just ahead of it so I was able to cool off  and down two large cups of water.

As we entered downtown, I started feeling a little better. I could tell that Asia was feeling better than me though, and at this point I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep up with her if she picked it up once we got to the hill. We made it through both train crossings without having to stop (wait times for passing trains/trolleys can be up to 2 minutes if you are unlucky and get stopped!). I continued to feel pretty good going up A street but once we got to the steepest portion I slowed down a bit. When we turned onto 6th, the last 1/2 mile or so of hill, I just tried to keep my head up and think positive thoughts. All of the water and GU in my stomach was not sitting well, however, and this was the first and only time during a race that I thought I may actually throw up. I think maybe taking both of my GUs without water wasn’t a good idea.

Asia crept further and further ahead of me and at some point I just told myself to focus on my own pace. The hill was pretty miserable but once it was over I got back into stride and made my way through Balboa Park. Although I coudl see Asia ahead of me, I couldn’t pick up the pace enough to catch up to her. I wasn’t feeling nearly as great as at the end of the last race, but I was still making good progress. When I saw the final turn, I turned it up a notch and tried to sprint despite my exhaustion. My watch time showed 1:52:26 over the course of 13.2 miles (extra .1 miles for weaving/not taking the most direct course, which is typical).

Triple Crown Finishers!

My stomach was still not happy with me when I stopped running. It took about a half hour before any type of food even sounded remotely good. I’m not sure what happened but I hope it doesn’t again! Once we found all of our friends, we stood around discussing our individual races. Asia, Jen and I all PRed and the boys were just a minute or two off of their La Jolla times. At the finish line Jen, Mike and I collected our Triple Crown medals, which signified our completion of three specific San Diego half marathons in one year. We celebrated the race with a massive breakfast at one of our favorite San Diego breakfast establishments, the Mission Cafe.

Final Time/Ranking

I don’t plan to race antoher half marathon for at least a year due to triathlon training. Perhaps we will run AFC next year in order to keep us busy after the Ironman is over. Maybe next year I’ll drop another 10 minutes and come in at 1:42!? We’ll see!

6,753 Total Finishers – 20th Percentile

3,543 Women – 11th Percentile

695 Women 25-29 – 11.6 Percentile

First Name Last Name Sex Age City State Time Pace Bib Gun
1365 395 81 Nicole Woyski F 27 ENCINITAS CA 01:52:24 8:35 2224 01:53:21 52:06:00 2011
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