May 2, 2010

American River Parkway Half Marathon (Race Report)

In a surprising turn of events, my shin splints caused me no problems at yesterday's race. Imagine that! With the pain out of the way, I met my B+/A- goal with an official finish time of 2:13:23!

Besides setting a new PR, I really had a great time with this race. First of all, it was super convenient running a race in my hometown. Everything was easy to navigate and my parents could easily find me along the course. Part of the course was along a familiar route which was cool, too. The course was basically flat with trails on the sides of the pathway offering the choice for a softer running surface. And man, was it beautiful! Everything was green, the river was in clear sight, billowy trees overhanging the path, bright poppies, birds chirping. The crazy wind even backed off just in time for the race. My only gripe is that it was warm. And despite what I was expecting, there was little to no shade the entire way. On top of the temps, the water stations seemed oddly placed and few and far between, making it difficult to take my Gu on schedule. I usually would've taken 3, but I only got 2 in due to the placement of water stations.
This is pretty much the extent of the shade.
American River

It's weird, but for the first time I was really nervous for this race. I think it was partly the pressure of setting a PR and worrying about my shin splints interfering. I could barely stomach my usual toast with PB and the nerves didn't settle until I finally started running. As I waited for the race to start, I began to really worry about my legs. Just standing around I was getting twinges of pain - not a good sign when they're about to run 13.1 miles! Then I started questioning whether it was even smart to try and PR considering the bigger picture. Suffice it to say, I was a bit of a nervous wreck as I waited in the crowd of runners. We ended up starting about 15 minutes late, but what a start it was! A band of Scottish bagpipers marched through the crowd, splitting the sea of runners as they went. And then we were off!
All ready to go!
Starting area at William Pond Park.
 Runners waiting to start!

Excuse my language, but the first mile was an absolute clusterfuck. I understand that there were a lot of people and the pathway was somewhat narrow, but I'll never understand why runners can't seem to line up by pace! Especially walkers - this race even offered a separate half on the opposite side of the river for walkers, and yet I still saw people walking around me in the first couple miles. Ok, now I'll step off my soapbox : ) After a couple miles, my shin splints were no longer an issue. Maybe I just stopped focusing on them, but soon enough I was running pain-free. I saw my parents and my dog around mile 4 but I was in the zone and couldn't stop. I felt good up to the turnaround, and knew that I could definitely PR. Once I came to this realization, I really started to focus since I was only halfway done, and the last 6ish miles would certainly be more challenging then the first. I started to put myself in the right mental state to get things done.
 Around mile 4.
 Passing my folks...
 Can't stop!
  Runners on the levy.
 Guy West Bridge (at Sac State)

I saw my parents again a little after mile 9 and after a quick wave kept trudging along. I hit a mini wall around mile 11.5 and allowed myself to walk for about 30 seconds to refocus. I knew I had it in me, and I just kept reminding myself how much it would suck to have pushed hard up til that point and then to let it all go when I was so close. So I picked things back up, and surprisingly, mile 11 was my fastest (9:46/mi)! The end was definitely tough. I knew I was going to PR, so then it became "by how much?". I took one more short walk break at mile 12, then pushed to the finish. In a surprising bit of fate (at least I think so), the same song that I played on repeat for the last 2 miles of the LA Marathon came on my iPod and put me in the zone. When the finish line was in sight, I sprinted my heart out, passing one runner after the next, caught a quick glimpse of my parents on either side, and then I was done.
 I'm way in the Mom forgot to zoom : )
 I had no idea my shorts were soaked! I poured water down my back to cool off, haha!
 Mom's shot coming in to the finish.
 Dad's shot at the finish.

Besides the urge to barf (which quickly passed), I felt pretty good considering that I really pushed myself. We hung out at the park for a bit in the shade, took some pics, then headed out. We stopped to see my 94 year-old grandmother so I could show her my medal (although I'm not sure she really knew what i was for!) and then got some sandwiches to take home. I inhaled mine, along with some potato salad and chocolate milk, showered, then literally passed out. When I finally woke up a couple hours later, we went out for sushi (my fave!) and even splurged on some fancy desserts after : )
 Did it!
 My fans : )
 Me and my pup!
 Me and my grandma (Nonna).

All in all, it was a great race and a great day. I'm glad I was able to combine two things I love, racing and a trip home to see my family.


  1. Congrats on such an awesome race girl! :) I'm happy to hear your shin splints didn't bother you!! :)

  2. That is an awesome! Its so cute that you have grades for your race report. Hey I saw that you wore a belt. I've been wanting to get a fuel belt for my running but can't decide which one to get. Yours looks like it holds gu and does it hold water? I actually haven't tried gu I've just been chomping on energy chews I'll tuck into my pocket but that would be interesting too and during training is the best time to try!

  3. Congrats on an awesome race and PR!!! LOVE your race recap! It sure was hot yesterday! And the starting line was chaos!

  4. Awesome race report!! Way to go!! :)

  5. Awesome race report!! Congrats on the PR!