I logged out of my phone Saturday evening having just exchanged messages with a buddy regarding finish times. “I’m expecting a 1:31 – 1:35” I told him. He was looking for a 1:30 so he responded saying, “Let’s run together, we’ll go sub 1:30.” Shit. Off to bed I guess.
Race morning went smoothly, I reviewed my gear checklist before I walked out the door at 4:50am having only forgotten my salt pill. Frigid morning air greeted me as I hopped in the car and headed to the stadium. A cool feature of the Pasadena half marathon is that it starts and ends at the Rose Bowl.
Parking, warm up, check in, bag check, multiple bathroom stops, all went quickly as the 7:00am start time neared. I met up with some running friends and then eventually found my running partner in Corral 1 a couple minutes before the start.
Corral 1. That was a first for me. The gun time and chip time were about 10 seconds off, but it was almost surreal to see the front runners go off out of the gate. Here I am, alongside them, guess I’d better get after it!
No matter what people say, this course definitely has some sneaky elevation. It starts with a climb that leads to a steeper climb before circling back on itself to a steady climb that only breaks at mile twelve for a gradual slope into the stadium finish.
We ground through the initial climbs, noting that our pace was good and that the lead pack was thinning out as over-excited starters faded back. All the cheery race banter subsided as focus my narrowed to only include breathing, foot strike and the runners ahead.
When the race hit it’s halfway point, the course finally wrapped back on itself and when it did, I was treated to the sight of the oncoming wall of runners enjoying the slight downhill segment. “Damn, I would love to have a slight downhill right about now” I remember thinking as my legs started to burn up. Not sure I could hold onto the pace I set, I just focused on the road ahead of me, blinders to everything else.
Miles 9, 10, 11, and 12 were a ghost town. A half mile from the finish, two runners cruised by, my hand outreached for a fist bump as they went. “Good on runners, good on.” I had nothing for them.
If you can chase someone down at a mid-six minute mile, you deserve a fist bump.
I swung wide at the finish chute, reaching for the not yet outstretched hands of the cheering crowds lining the railing. As soon as I did, hands popped out along the fence and my legs got a cool, liquid sensation as adrenaline poured down them. This. Is. It.
I crossed the line with a six minute personal best, shaving about 30 seconds per mile off of any effort I’ve done in the past three years! I was shocked and am incredibly proud of this effort. Right as I turned, my friend who paced me out of start crossed the line four seconds behind me. Incredible way to finish the race!
The New PRs
Now I’ve got to get back to training. The Los Angeles Marathon is up next and there’s a ton more work to do in preparation for that!