Early season races are always a great benchmark. Although you may not be at your best, the holidays are behind you, the New Year’s Resolutionaries have (hopefully) made their way out of your gym/favorite running loop, and your body’s had a few months to recover from its late season efforts. As Taylor and I ramp up our triathlon training, long runs are once again a staple in the workout plan, and what better way to do a long run than on an organized course with a few hundred of your closest friends? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: races are the new long run.
Given my volume last week (4.5 miles swimming, 100 miles biking, hard track workout) I knew that I shouldn’t run at more than a 75% effort if I wanted to recover well. With almost 3500′ of climbing – 3.5 miles of climbing to start the race, and another steady climb between 9.5 and 11.5 meant that 7 out of 13 miles were net gain. I knew that anything around 2:00-2:10 would be a great time: I’ve logged 1:51 twice at half marathons with 2100′ of vertical. Mental preparation out of the way, we embarked to Pacifica with Philz Coffees in hand.
The weather was absolutely perfect – low 50s in the early morning and well into the 60s by race start. When we arrived at the starting, there was a standard packet pickup in a picnic area and a nonstandard bathroom line – the mens’ room had a line 20+ people long. I soon found out that there was only one stall and one urinal in the bathroom – completely unacceptable for a race that featured 300+ starters, mostly men, across all distances. The reality that waiting in line would mean not starting on time set in, and I channeled that frustration straight up the 3.5 mile climb.
Although I wasn’t running hard up the 3.5 mile climb, I was running almost the entire time. With the exception of the steepest pitches, I ran and held a steady 10:30-11:30 pace up the challenging climb, ultimately finishing the 1800′ climb in 39 minutes. The fun started at the turnaround where we ran straight down the 3.5 mile climb up – I logged the 3.5 mile descent in just over 22 minutes, even risking my wind resistance to wave at Taylor on the way down.
After another short(er) climb and descent between 7.5 and 9.5, back up we went – another grueling 2 miles between 9.5 and 11.5. At this point, I was really starting to feel the elevation gain and my heart rate was spiking much faster than it was earlier in the race; I knew I was toward the end of what I should exert. I crested the final climb in just over 12 minutes – a good effort under the circumstances. With sub 2 hours in reach, I let it rip on the way down, running sub 6 for most of the last two miles save for the occasional incline. I broke the tape at 2:00:18 – a time I’m absolutely thrilled with given the elevation, and one that was good enough for 17th overall.
Finish Time: 2:00:18