Tag Archives: AFC Half Marathon

AFC Half Marathon 2013 Race Report

 

Post Race Is Fun!

Post Race Is Fun!

The Rant

Let’s just say it’s official – I don’t like to race for “fun.” When people (myself included) say they are racing for “fun” they mean they haven’t trained a lot so they aren’t expecting a PR and they are just going to go out there and “enjoy the day”. I image myself racing for fun by high-fiving spectating children, chatting it up with fellow runners, leisurely enjoying the aid stations and finishing feeling strong and good. This is not realty people. At least not my Type-A competitive reality.

To me, a “fun” race is knowing I prepared, pushing myself to my limits and achieving a personal best because I earned it (ok achieving a PR without training would be nice too but I’m not the type of athlete that can pull this off apparently).  Fun races involve pain, yes, but they are fun to me because I know that that pain is going to get me somewhere. “Pain is temporary, pride is forever” is my motto for a reason.

As I’ve mentioned, I do plan to run AFC every year as long as Mike continues along the path to achieving his goal of racing this half marathon every year for 25 years. I run this race for many reasons and as of late, achieving a PR hasn’t been one of them.  This year I hoped to achieve a different kind of PR – a course PR (standing from the 2011 race). I didn’t plan to achieve this PR as a result of the most recent months of training (or lack thereof), but what I assumed would be accumulated fitness from the last 2 years, particularly the fitness I had when I ran a 1:42 and change at the San Diego Half Marathon in March.  Is that too much to ask? All I had to do was run just less than 10 minutes slower than I did on a similar course with an even larger hill in March.

But no, that didn’t happen. And that’s fine in the sense that as I said, I didn’t train this summer to do well at AFC. However, the disappointment of my failure (25 second failure to be specific) to achieve even a course PR isn’t about Athlinks or the fact that I couldn’t go on Facebook and announce my “course PR” (and confuse people since most probably have no idea what these even means), it was more a sadness about my current state of fitness compared to the state of fitness I was in just a short period of time ago. I worked really, really hard for that half marathon PR and to get myself ready to BQ at Eugene and it’s disappointing to see that not much of that fitness was retained. I need that fitness to get me to a BQ next year and I know I have a long road to not only get back to where I was, but to get even faster than that!

The Race Report

Pre-Race Photos! Wearing Oiselle Bum Wrap and Winona Tank

Pre-Race Photos! Wearing Oiselle Bum Wrap and Winona Tank

Pretty Proud of this Porto-Potty Panorama

Pretty Proud of this Porto-Potty Panorama

So rather than go into details about every mile and how I was feeling, I’ll give you the high level summary. Asia and I started the race together and lined up in our appropriate corral (this is new this year but not communicated well at all) – however, no one listened to the corrals and although we weren’t even running as fast as the corral we started in, we spent the majority of the first four miles dodging fellow runners. Note to self- start closer to the front next year. Our first mile was close to 9 minutes because it was physically impossible to get around without doing some serious dodging.

We had assumed we wouldn’t stay together in this race since we both had absolutely no idea how fast we actually could run and we hadn’t trained a ton together. We did, however, really want to get a race photo together so we worked for that and ended up with this:

afc half

 

 

Wouldn’t put that in a frame….

This picture was taken right around the time Asia and I were both pretending like we were having fun “racing” when in actuality we were both struggling to keep up. We both thought the other one was feeling better than us and we both were just trying to keep it together. This photo was taken around mile 6 and 7, which loop around Harbor Island. Unfortunately just as we were leaving the island I said to Asia sarcastically, “Isn’t this fun!?” and she said “No! I don’t know how long I can keep this up” and then we admitted to each other that we both felt like crap and that were probably went out too hard. We both then proceeded to crash and burn as our paces slipped slower and slower and we began to be the passed instead of the passer.

afc 2

Asia slipped behind me at this point and I kept going, thinking I could at least make my course PR goal of 1:52:25. I threw away my semi goal of a sub 1:50 and just focused on the course PR. However, my pace was slowing and I couldn’t help it. I decided at one point just to wait for Asia if she wasn’t too far behind but when I looked back I didn’t see her. I continued to plod on in misery as I went.

I really focused during this race on NOT looking at my watch. I did look at it, but not nearly as much as in other races. Since I had no idea what my body was capable of, I figured effort was a better guide. Unfortunately I was trying to hang on with what felt like a blazing pace that I felt Asia was setting during the early miles of the race and I burned myself out quickly. Around mile 8 it got hard and around mile 11 it got really, really hard. My pace dropped into the low 9s and I just focused on finishing. Knowing that I had a significant incline to make my way up for the entire duration of mile 12 didn’t help. I even hoped the trolley would pass and I would be “forced” to stop and wait for it.

The hill up 6th avenue at mile 12 was the worst but I think for the first time ever in this race, I didn’t walk at all (I usually use the aid station on the hill as a break). I didn’t walk during this race at all actually because I carried my handheld. At one point a very old man (70s?) passed me going up the hill. That gave me a boost. I didn’t look at my watch but I knew it was bad. I focused on surviving, not dominating it. The highlight of the hill, other than seeing Jeremy and sarcastically screaming at him that I was having so much fun and couldn’t wait to run the race 21 more years, was for some reason this crazy looking cat toy that a man had set up on the side of the course that was dancing it’s butt off. That crazy cat made me smile.

Trying to Smile - This is FUN!

Trying to Smile – This is FUN!

The end was rough but I finished and that is something to be proud of (Official time 1:52:52, 28 seconds shy of my goal). I was disappointed that I couldn’t even pull out the course PR but at the end of the day, I did finish yet another half marathon (my 10th!) and I do have to say I did have fun that morning, even if the majority of the race itself didn’t feel that way. I love races – the excitement before, the spectators during, the finish line party and breakfast after. However, I think I have learned my lesson that I need to at least train enough to be proud of my performance in order for all 13.1 miles to be “fun.”

Look! I got a medal!

Look! I got a medal!

The Tradition Continues

Near the Finish Line of AFC Half Marathon

Near the Finish Line of AFC Half Marathon

This weekend will be my 4th year in a row running the America’s Finest City (AFC) Half Marathon. Six years ago when Mike first ran this race he sat on the bus (it’s a one way race) next to a man from Palm Springs who was running AFC for the 25th consecutive year that year. Mike was so impressed by this man’s dedication that he decided to follow in his footsteps and do the same. I have somewhat followed his lead and since the year we met, I have raced every year and plan to continue as long as possible.

The funny part is, AFC isn’t even our favorite race. It’s really not even a great race to do year after year since there is a pretty fast time cut off (3 hours which means no walking if you are 7 months pregnant or injured – hypothetically of course), there are no strollers allowed, and the course has a nice hill at the end which crushes my soul (and any time goals) every year. It is also a 30 minute drive from our house and involves a very early morning since the last shuttle to the 7 .am. start leaves at 5:30 a.m. It takes place in the middle of August which means that typically weddings, vacations, weekend getaways and general life get put ahead of training. Not to mention the heat of summer is at its height.

BUT….

Sunrise View From the Start Line

Sunrise View From the Start Line

Arriving at the Cabrillo National Monument just before or during sunrise is pretty spectacular with a gorgeous view of downtown and the harbor. We usually know quite a few friends and coworkers racing so it’s fun to see and/or run with them. It’s always nice to have a summer race to keep you running through the busy months and the race itself has a fun and mostly scenic course, starting in Point Loma atop a hill, winding its way down to sea level for the first four miles and then running along the harbor and into downtown and up into the stunning Balboa Park.

Friends At AFC 2012

Friends At AFC 2012

With Friends at AFC 2011

With Friends at AFC 2011

AFC 2010

With Friends at AFC 2010

AFC is a fun race to have on the calendar. This year in particular I have no real goals for this race other than to have fun and at least pull off a fairly decent time, at least a course PR (which would be 1:52 something from 2 years ago – last year I was still recovering from Ironman and the heat was pretty epic so it was a very slow race for me!). I know that a half marathon PR is no where in sight, but since it’s my off-season, I’m ok with that. Of course there will be moments in the race when I curse myself for not training harder, as there always are during races I’m not fulling prepared for, but that’s ok too.

So cheers for an epic Sunday full of running, friends, beautiful views and a delicious post race breakfast!

Do you have a race that you run year over year? 

The Importance of an Off Season

Off Season - More Time for Train Rides Downtown for Dinner and Drinks Knowing Sunday is a Rest Day

Off Season – More Time for Train Rides Downtown for Dinner and Drinks Knowing Sunday is a Rest Day

I’m in “off-season.” For someone who has big goals, it can be difficult to sit back and not train hard. I worry that I’m losing fitness and that as a result I won’t achieve the lofty goals I’ve set for myself for next year (qualify for Boston). I worry that all the training I put in before my last BQ attempt will be erased by this down time. However, I also know that this down time is good for me, mentally and physically.

Off Season - Time to Make Complicated Vegan Pad Thai Recipes

Off Season – Time to Make Complicated Vegan Pad Thai Recipes (& drink more wine?)

Periodization

While training for Ironman I read a large portion of the books The Triathete’s Training Bible and Going Long. Both of these books spoke of a concept called periodization in endurance sports which is the principle that training should flow through various phases in order to achieve peak physical shape of the athlete just in time for the race. There are periods within a training cycle but there are also periods within years of training. One of these important periods is a time of mental and physical rest.

According to EnduranceCorner.com,

Simply, the purpose of the off-season is to shed ALL of the fatigue accumulated in the preceding season so that the athlete is starting from a blank slate at the start of the next preparation period. If you hold onto just 20% of your fatigue from the previous season, the cumulative effect means that after 5 years you’ll be starting the next season as fatigued as you were at your peak training volume 5 years ago. This is going to significantly compromise your ability to tolerate the extra training load that you want to do that season and ultimately lead to a plateau in your long term performance.

Obviously, fitness levels will decline in the off season, however the fatigue actually declines faster than performance. If you time it correctly, you can give yourself some much needed time off without completely sacrificing fitness. “For an average athlete, at ~60 days post race they will have less than 1% of fatigue remaining from the season. Yet, they will still be retaining 17% of their fitness from the preceding season” (source). Unfortunately, add another month to this equation and now fitness is at 7% of peak. You can have too much time off.

What to Focus on in the Off Season

My Off Season - Club Pilates!!!

My Off Season – Club Pilates!!!

While some complete rest is recommended following a particularly grueling effort or season, after a short period of inactivity, it is definitely wise to resume some sort of activity. The off season is a great time to focus on flexibility by taking yoga classes and/or strength by incorporating more weight training into your routine than you can usually fit into a packed training schedule.”Strength training is one of the most important forms of cross-training that should take place during off-season. Strength training significantly improves endurance cycling and running performance by enhancing endurance capacity, lowering lactate threshold, and by allowing for more efficient recruitment of muscles (which may decrease oxygen cost at each running/cycling intensity) (source).” Other forms of cardiovascular activity can also help maintain running fitness but won’t be a perfect substitute.

My Off Season

Clearly, I’m not a pro-athlete. If I were, my “off-season” would be a lot more structured than it has and definitely shorter (3.5 months now…). However, for me, it has been exactly what I needed. After the marathon I did have some high hopes for myself this summer in terms of maintaining and possibly even increasing my running speed for the AFC half this Sunday, but the goal of PRing at this race quickly got replaced by giving myself a mental break from a structured running plan.

Although I am racing the half marathon on Sunday, I have not followed much of a training plan outside of arranging to meet Asia at Torrey Pines for a few laps up and down it. I’ve done one speed workout since the marathon but other than that, possibly a few miles at the 4th of July 15K (no watch to tell me this thought) and the run portion of the triathlon, I haven’t run faster than an 8 minute mile. I’ve been running on average 3-4 times a week with no real goal other than to get out on the road and log some miles. I have been able to get in two 10 mile runs and one 11 mile run which at least gives me confidence that I can cover the distance, no matter how slowly. My paces are slow but not slow enough for me to care (yet).

Instead of focusing on tempo, speed and hill repeats, I’ve been focusing on strengthening my muscles and core with classes at Club Pilates. I’ve been able to get to class at least three times a week (last week 4) for a solid 2 months now and I can definitely see great progress in that (hello abs!) I think that having this great foundation of strength built up will help me prevent injury and stay strong during marathon training next year. 

The most important part of this off season for me is that it’s giving me a mental break. I’m not stressing over my Garmin and I stopped logging in Daily Mile. As of the last week or two, if I’m honest, running has been more of a chore and less joyful than it should be. I’m taking that as a sign that I need to take some time away from running after the half marathon this Sunday, even if it’s just for a week. I have really big running goals for myself next year and I want to achieve them. Although I know taking some downtime from running will set me back a bit physically, the mental break it provides is going to pay dividends when I start back up and am excited to tackle each workout with all I’ve got.

Do you schedule an off season each year? Do you have any good examples of times you took an off season and it later benefited your training? 

 

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2012 in Photos

There are a few common blog posts among bloggers this time of year and I’m not going to be one of those people who doesn’t do them just because everyone else is. So here it is – 2012 in photos! Enjoy :)

I started off the year with my new bike – a shiny new 2012 P2!

Getting Fitted on My New Bike!

Getting Fitted on My New Bike!

surf city marathon

In February, Mike, Asia and I ran the Surf City Marathon and each of us achieved our goals (sub 3:50 for Asia and me, Sub 3:20 for Mike). After that, we set our focus 100% on triathlon. The photo below is one of a few of us on a training ride through Camp Pendleton to practice the Oceanside 70.3 bike course.

More Than Halfway Finished!

Practicing the Oceanside 70.3 Course

Meeting Chrissie Wellington!

Meeting Chrissie Wellington!

Woyski Nicole O Sit 2

On March 31, I crossed the finish line of my first half Ironman in just under 6 hours! April-June was basically eat, sleep, breath Ironman training.

Ready to Swim!

One of Many Group Open Water Swims

Halfway Through Our 91 Mile Ride!

Halfway Through Our 91 Mile Ride!

Mike and Me After the Aquathon

Mike and Me After a TCSD Aquathon

Running Skirts Zoot Pro Triathlete Run!

Running Skirts Zoot Pro Triathlete Run!

Then the big day came – June 24 I finished my first Ironman!

Chaos!!!

Ironman CdA Swim Start

WIM12_1066

0191_47716

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but worth every second of pain.

photo

Vegan lunch!

After the Ironman, Mike and I started our mostly vegan diet. We’ve eaten a lot of vegetables in the last six months!

Also after Ironman, wedding season began. From June – early November I attended five bridal showers, three bachelorette parties and seven weddings!

Celebrating friends, not race finishes

Celebrating friends, not race finishes as Maid of Honor in a good friend’s wedding

Wine tasting as an Olympic sport? We might win!

Wine Tasting Bachelorette in Santa Barbara

Jill and Matt Wedding 038

I didn’t give up racing completely! In August I ran the AFC Half Marathon “for fun” and in September I took 2nd place in my age group at the San Diego Classic Triathlon!

Pre-Race Photo!

AFC Pre-Race Photo!

Awesome Trophy!

Awesome Trophy at the Classic

In September I started my 2nd season of coaching for Girls on the Run, this time coaching slightly older girls in Girls on Track!

So Proud of My Team!

So Proud of My Team!

In October, I started to get back into the swing of training and pulled off a slight PR at the Long Beach Half Marathon.

long beach half w

Later in October Mike and I took two weekend trips – one to Vegas for a trip I won through work and one four day weekend to San Francisco for a wedding. While in San Francisco, I met up Page and some other fellow runner/bloggers for a gorgeous 18 mile run.

VEGAS!

VEGAS!

Ferry Building to Golden Gate Long Run

Ferry Building to Golden Gate Long Run

In November, we took a break from marathon training and went to Belize for a relaxing 8 night vacation!

Belize 2012 094Belize 2012 237

In December, we continued to marathon train while attending Christmas parties and celebrating my birthday!

dec 2012 003

My Dad's Birthday is Christmas Eve, Mine is Christmas Day!

My Dad’s Birthday is Christmas Eve, Mine is Christmas Day!

My highlight of 2012 was undoubtedly crossing the finish line of my first Ironman but even despite the Ironman, 2012 was a great year! I’m looking forward to achieving some new goals and making more memories in 2013.

What was your highlight of 2012?

 

AFC Half Marathon Strategy (or lack thereof)

Before every race, I write a post about what I want to accomplish in a race and how I’m going to get there. For once, I’m kind of at a loss. I have absolutely no idea how Sunday’s half marathon is going to go and I don’t have a real strategy.

AFC Half Marathon 2011

The last half marathon I ran was actually this same race, 1 year ago. It’s been a while since I raced 13.1 miles on foot other than at Oceanside 70.3. My PR at the half marathon distance was at AFC last year 1:52:24, which was about 10 minutes less than my time on that same course 1 year earlier. Last year at AFC I remember Asia and I saying that we would like to shave another 10 minutes off for the 2012 race, assuming we’d have a great chance after a year of hardcore endurance training for a marathon, half Ironman and full Ironman. Well as I’m sure you’ve gathered, the hopes of running a sub 1:45 half marathon (one of my 2012 goals) at AFC this weekend have been dashed due mostly to a more lengthy than expected Ironman recovery as well as general lack of interest in training.

AFC Half Marathon 2010

My perception of my  race performance at AFC this year has gone through highs and lows. Once I realized that sub 1:45 would have to wait, I thought maybe sub 1:50 could happen. Then I decided if I PR I’ll be happy. Then I decided I probably won’t PR. Then I went back to Sub 1:50. Asia and I usually have a goal in mind and we try to keep our pace steady for the entire race. The last two times I ran AFC I learned that the final 2 miles of the race are always slower than every other mile due to the pretty significant hill going up Broadway and 6th avenue. So in order to achieve any type of goal at this race, I need to run a few seconds/mile under my goal race pace to make up for the slowing at the end. For a sub 1:50, which requires an 8:24 average, this would mean that my first 10 miles should be closer to 8:15-20 (also to make up for the fact that I always cover more than 13.1 miles due to turns, etc). Not a single one of my training runs post-Ironman has been in this range and I only was able to get in one speed work session (4 Yasso 800s, all at about a 7:30ish pace). In fact, most of my post-Ironman runs have been in the mid to high 9 min/miles. Not looking good.

The heat is also not helping – I know we sound like idiots for complaining about weather in the high 80s but we aren’t used to such conditions! In addition to “extreme heat,” San Diego has been unusually humid – about 80-90% humidity. I return from even the shortest training runs soaked in sweat.

So, my #1 goal for this race is to HAVE FUN.

As for my pace, Asia and I keep going back and forth on this one. We kind of decided we’ll just go out at our sub-1:50 pace and see how it feels. If it’s miserable, we’ll slow down, but if we feel good, we’ll go with it. If we completely fall apart at mile 10 because we pushed it too hard, oh well. At least we tried!

A new nutrition/hydration strategy I have for this race is to carry a plastic water bottle with a Nuun tablet in it at the start. Since it will be hot and humid, I’ll be losing electrolytes through sweat like Woah and I’m not sure my 1 Gu every 40 min nutrition plan is going to be enough to compensate. I never drink the sports drink on the course at races because I don’t train with it so carrying Nuun to drink for the first half of the race will help. Also, since it’ll be so hot, I really need to make sure I’m hydrated and it’s hard to get down a solid amount of water when  you are drinking out of a Dixie cup while running, or even if you slow to walk for that matter. Dixie cups were made for small children to use to drink while brushing their teeth, not for athletes attempting to run 13.1 miles in the heat.

So here goes nothing….

My 2011 Fitness Journey!

2011 was certainly an amazing year. Although I’ve always been interested in fitness and have regularly worked out, this was the first year that I took it to a whole new level. I learned so much about how to train, how to fuel my body and how to balance a hardcore fitness routine with work, friends, a relationship, community service and family. I feel very lucky to have lived a very healthy life in 2011 and even more glad that I had good friends and an amazing boyfriend to share in my fitness journey. 
 
Here are some of my highlights:
 
January – Wrote my first Fitness Fatale (then called Femme Fatale: Conquering a Marathon with P90X) blog entry! Achieved my goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon and started P90X.
Taking the Fit Test Before P90X
February  – Didn’t drink alcohol, soda, coffee or eat any white bread/pasta, cookies, candy, etc. for an entire month during Phase 1 of P90X. Lost 8.5 lbs in the first 4 weeks! Officially started training for my first marathon and did my first double workout day (P90X in the morning, run in the evening).
 
March - More P90X and half marathon/marathon training. Mike turned 30 and we jumped out of a plane to celebrate!
 

Crossed That One Off the Bucket List!

 
April – Did my first unassisted pull-up. Ran the La Jolla Half Marathon in 1 hour 54 minutes, 5 minutes faster than I ran Carlsbad 3 months earlier, thanks to P90X! Finished P90X with a total weight loss of 10.8 pounds and 2.25 inches off my waist. Gained a new sense of confidence in my body and fitness ability.
 
May – Became a Team Beachbody Coach so that I can help others achieve their fitness goals! Ran 18 miles through 4 cities with Mike and also ran the longest run of my life wtih my running group, The Vavi Running Club.
 
June- Finished my first ever marathon with two great friends by my side in 4 hours and 2 minutes! Road a road bike for the first time in my life and competed in my first triathlon, a practice beginner tri put on by the Tri Club.

Post Rock n Roll Marathon

 
 
July- Competed in my first sprint triathlon and signed up for my first Olympic triathlon, Half-Ironman and Ironman all in one day (and my credit card got shut off from spending too much!)
 
 
August – Ran the AFC Half Marathon nearly 10 minutes faster than the prior year and also recevied the Triple Crown medal for competing 3 San Diego half marathons in 1 year. Was the 3rd woman to finish the TriClub Beginner Triathlon.
 
September – Finished 3rd in my age group at the TriRock Olympic triathlon.
 
October – Started coaching Girls on the Run and also started the Insanity Beachbody program. Biked my first half century ride. Wrote my 100th blog post.  
 
 
November – Discovered the Sufferfest cycling DVDs. Ran the Father Joe’s Thanksgiving Day 5k.

Turkey Socks!

 
December – Finished Insanity. Finished my first season of Girls on the Run and ran as a Runny Buddy in the 5k.

Girls on the Run Team Encinitas

Thanks to everyone who reads my blog! This has been such an action packed year for me and I know that 2012 will be even better!
 
What was your favorite fitness achievement of 2011?

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

Overall
Place
Sex
Place
Div
Place
First Name Last Name Sex Age City State Time Pace Bib Gun
Time
10K
Split
Year
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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On My Way to a Triple Crown!

No I don’t mean that I am going to start racing horses and take on the Kentucky Durby. Although not as prestigious as Secretariat’s 1973 win the Belmont Stakes, on Sunday I will be awarded with the San Diego Triple Crown medal for completing three designated San Diego half marathons within one year. This year I ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon, the La Jolla Half Marathon and on Sunday I will run the America’s Finest City Half Marathon. Each race is unique and has their own benefits and downsides. I have actually raced Carlsbad twice now (it was my first half marathon) and this will be my second time completing AFC.

Carlsbad Half Marathon

My Running Group Just Before the Carlsbad Half Marathon

The Carlsbad Half Marathon boasts one of the flattest courses in the West. Located in North San Diego County at the end of January, this event draws a lot of beginners. The Expo is very large and is held at the start and finish line which also happens to be a mall parking lot. Parking for this event isn’t bad, especially if you take El Camino rather than the freeway like we did. There are plenty of bathrooms (believe me this is a perk) and the course serves Gu and post-race snacks for free in addition to water and sports drink on the course.

Personally, I enjoy this course and although it is mostly flat, there are some rolling hills to keep things interesting. Although the start is a couple of miles inland, most of the route is along the scenic Southern California coastline. It’s an out and back course, which does allow for a nice confident booster as you watch the thousands of competitors that are behind you on the way back. Another perk of this course is there are pacers. The 2nd time I raced this course I was trying to break 2 hours for the first time and I’m not sure I would have made it without the man with the 2:00 sign.

I trained for this event with my VAVI Running Club and ran primarily with my friends Jen and Miranda that I met in the club. Mike did not train much for this event, although he ended up doing just fine with a low 1:40s finish. I finally broke 2 hours at this race, coming in at 1:59:26. My race report is here.

La Jolla Half Marathon

Finishing with Friends at the La Jolla Half Marathon

The La Jolla Half Marathon, by contrast to Carlsbad, is one of the hilliest half marathons on the West Coast. There are four hills, the third of which is Torrey Pines Hill which is part of a State Park known primarily for hiking. The hill is contains a 420 foot ascent over only 2 miles, with the steepest points being about 6.5% grade.

The race starts at the famous Del Mar fairgrounds and finishes in the gorgeous La Jolla Cove. The expo is in La Jolla and is difficult to get to (due to traffic) and is very small. The course itself offers no Gu or pacers but does have a beer garden at the finish. This is undoubtably my favorite of the three races – the course is gorgeous and the hill really tests your endurance and leg strength. Coasting down the backside of the hill is a welcome relief after all the hard work put into the race so far and also provides a beautiful view of the Pacific. The finish line is at the same park that thousands of tourists travel from around the world to see for themselves. I couldn’t have felt luckier to live in San Diego than I did after finishing this race.

Leading up to this race I had just finished 12 weeks of P90X and was in the best shape of my life thus far. I trained on Torrey Pines hill at least 5 times prior to the race and included the hill as part of my 14 mile marathon training run. I ended up dropping 5 1/2 minutes off of my PR at this race, coming in at 1:54:21 (top 10% in my age group!).  Race report here.

AFC Half Marathon

AFC Half Marathon 2010

America’s Finest City Half Marathon is a one-way course that starts in Point Loma and finishes at gorgeous Balboa Park. The race does not hand out Gu, have pacers or a beer garden, but it is a very popular race due to the scenic course and time of year, as it takes place in August. The worst part about this race is getting to the start. There is limited access to Balboa Park so not only is traffic terrible but once you arrive you must wait in line to take a bus to the start line. You must be in line by 5:30 a.m. or you are not guaranteed a ride to the start (and the start is in military base so you can’t get dropped off). Therefore, to be safe, you should arrive by 5 a.m. With traffic and a typical commute time of 35 minutes from North County, it means we’ll be leaving our house around 4 a.m. and waking up by 3:30 a.m.!!!

America’s Finest City Half Marathon is where I made my come back to running last August. It had been a year and a half since my first and only half marathon at Carlsbad, and I was on a mission to drop 13 minutes off of my time and break 2 hours. Although I knew there was a 2 mile hill at the end of this course, I figured the three miles of downhill (and rolling hills) at the start of the race could give me a leg up in case I lost steam on the final leg. Unfortunately, despite consistently pacing myself at a 9:05 min/mile (a 9:10 is needed to break 2 hours although you must run slightly faster due to the fact that the course is actually longer than 13.1 miles when run), I bonked at the bottom of the hill at mile 10 and ultimately came in just shy of my goal at 2:01:59.

This year in preparation for the race, I haven’t been training for a half marathon – I’ve been training for a triathlon and doing P90X. However, I think that the work I’ve done over the last few months plus the endurance I have from the marathon in June should give me enough speed to at least get close to my La Jolla PR, if not break it. After such a great race at La Jolla I had my sights set on breaking 1:50 at AFC this year but I just haven’t had time to dedicate to training. I’ve been lucky to get two runs in a week, and usually one of those runs is 3 miles or less and is part of a triathlon or aquathon. However, running 10 miles on a whim is no longer hard and nearly seems (dare I say it) easy after running 14-21 miles every weekend for a month and a half in preparation for the Rock n Roll Marathon in May. So I think that despite limited run training recently there could be some (personal) records broken!

Who knows – I was thinking I may not even break 2 hours at La Jolla and I came in well below that. My plan is just to go out at about an 8:15- 8:30 pace for the first few miles of downhill, try to sustain 8:30-40ish on the flats and then battle my way up the hill to a new PR. We’ll see! I might as well try and see what happens!

Triple Crown or Bust!

No matter what happens (well unless we miss the race due to traffic or something), I’ll be a Triple Crown Finisher on Sunday! Then not only will I receive my AFC finisher medal, I’ll also receive a shiny Triple Crown medal to go in the drawer with the rest of them.