This picture was taken at sunrise on Saturday morning, again from my front door!
The Santa Clarita Half Marathon was this Sunday morning. Clay had talked about running on Friday at work but, when I didn't hear from him on Saturday I figured he opted out. Then I got a text Saturday night that said, "see you at the starting line at 6:50am." I quickly replied, "Awesome!" We stayed down in Santa Clarita at a Hotel with my mom and step-dad who came out to visit and run the 5k!
The race started at 7:00am so I set my alarm for 5:30 thinking that my cell phone would automatically "fall back." I awoke to my alarm and got dressed and ready, then realized it was still dark out and no one else was up. I went back to bed for an hour, and was ready to go.
The starting temps were in the 50s! Perfect! Standing around I was wishing I had my arm warmers, but once the race started I was glad I didn't have them. My inital plan was to start conservatively at 7:00 pace for 3 miles and then pick it up depending on how my leg felt. I followed the plan, sort of.
It is hard to keep even splits at the beginning of the race. There were way too many slower runners up at the front and I'm sure I elbowed a few people just trying to break free the first quarter mile. The entire first mile is uphill and the second mile is down hill. My splits there were 6:37 and 6:22. This was not 7:00 pace but every time I looked at my watch it said around 6:30 pace and it felt very comfortable so I continued on.
The next 4 miles are fairly flat and the splits were 6:18, 6:13, 6:19, 6:22. I got a few sharp zingers of pain in my calf during these miles and forced myself to hold back. Looking back, I am amazed that I was able to hold this kind of pace during these miles. When I felt the calf I started to think, "oh boy here we go again." After that I didn't get any sharp pain the rest of the race.
It was at this point where the race really started to get fun. A female runner caught up to me and I tried to stay with her for a while but felt like I was pushing a little to hard and fell back. This portion of the race is slightly up hill to mile 9, then you turn back down the other side of the wash and run downhill to the finish. After about a half mile I caught up with this same girl and we were running stride for stride. I find myself running with women at some of these marathons and half marathons because they tend to be really good at keeping an even pace. Looking ahead I could see two other female runners. We passed one quickly and the other was farther up ahead. It was then that I said to her, "that girl is coming back to us, lets go get her" and we slowly reeled her in just before the nine mile mark. Miles 7 to 9 were 6:24, 6:25, 6:22 and I said, "If we can make it to mile 9 we have some downhill waiting for us."
I was taking gatorade about every three miles and felt good about it. I carried two gels but did not use either one. We were really cruising down hill and there were people on the course cheering for this girl running with me, "Go Holly!" "You are the first girl!" I tried to make sure she stayed with me. We had passed the last girl really strong and I knew we were quite a ways ahead. Miles 10 and 11 were 6:04 and 6:08 and Holly was really breathing hard. I told her, "relax and settle down, we still have 3 miles to go!" At one point to keep her motivated I ran through and aid station yelling, "Go Holly!" and pointing behind me. All the kids there started yelling, "Go Holly!" It was awesome.
With two miles to go Holly started to fade and I was getting pretty tired. We had gone through the 10 mile mark at 63:26! At this point I was trying to hold on myself and would occasionally yell, "c'mon Holly" behind me. The last mile is tough because you have to go over 2 bridge walkways before the finish. My last two mile splits were 6:14 and 6:26 for a final time of 1:23:25 (avg pace 6:22). I turned around to see Holly finish behind me as the first female finisher in 1:23:46! When the official results were put online I found her name Holly Kopp and after a quick "google" found that she is from Alaska, 19 years old, and runs cross country for The Masters College in Santa Clarita! Congratulations Holly!
I was very pleased with my time. I was 4th in my age group (tough age group). I remember a man calling out places at about the 5 mile mark and I was 35th, I ended up 15th! I was hoping to just break 1:26. After reading this some of you may not believe me when I complain about my calf and that it is only 90% but it really does not feel equal to the left side. I did not have the strength there to push in the last mile and was passed by a runner at the finish line. Normally I would not let that happen. I have learned how to manage the calf tightness over the past month. It is more sore and definitely tighter than the left right now.
Here is what the mile splits look like together. 6:37, 6:22, 6:18, 6:13, 6:19, 6:22, 6:24, 6:25, 6:22, 6:04, 6:08, 6:14, 6:26.
I saw Clay finish in 1:40 and was suprised to see David Weary finishing right with him! Sounds like they had a fun race together too.
My father-in-law Don Crane finished (with a cold) in just under 2:06, good for 6th out of 23 for males 60-64! Nice work Don!
My mom and brother-in-law both finished the 5k in 31 minutes, and my step-dad Brad who was competing on the 2nd anniversary of his back surgery, finished the 5k in 49:28 (a PR by over 10 minutes!)
My pal Ron Gallagher fought some nasty headwinds on the bike at the Silverman half ironman but finished faster than last year in 8:08!
The New York Marathon was this morning and the highlight for the US was Shalane Flanagan's debut in 2:28:40 for a 2nd place finish and US Marathon Champion! She is one tough cookie! See her post race interview here.
Meb was 6th and Dathan was 8th, but the big news for the men was that world record holder Haile Gebrselassie dropped out at mile 16 and, in a post race press conference, retired from competitive racing. It was an emotional announcement and a sad day for the running community.