Centennial Half Marathon + 5 Recap

Sherry and I had decided awhile back that we would not be running the Centennial Half Marathon.  We wanted to run last Sunday's Heels and Hills Half, and we didn't want to over-tax our bodies in the middle of marathon training.  You all know where this is going, right?  Well a couple weeks out, there was just too much peer pressure... I mean, all the cool kids were doing this race... and Sherry couldn't do the 18 with me, so I didn't want to do the whole thing alone, so... well, I signed up.  Yes, I just did a half marathon on Sunday and this was Saturday of the same week, but who's counting?

But I still needed to get in my 18 miles.  So I devised a plan to park at one of the remote lots (that they shuttle from).  I would run from the lot to the race (3.25 miles), then run the race, then either run the remaining 1.5 as an out-and-back and catch the shuttle... or just run back toward the car and walk the last 2 or so.  I posted my crazy plan on facebook and to my surprise, I had a new friend jump on board!  Mary and I had actually never met in person, but we're on a local running facebook group and she had posted about considering running San Diego, and we connected that way.  (She actually decided not to do San Diego, but is still marathon training for one that's 3 weeks later.)  Mary had 18 miles on her schedule too, and despite the fact that I'm a slightly slower runner than her, she was excited to join me for the 18 (not as excited as I was to have company).

Quick recap so far - race I'm not supposed to run, parking 3.5 miles from the start, running with someone I've never met.  And people say I'm not spontaneous!  Bwahahahahahaha!

OK, race morning... up and ready to go at 6am and decided to leave early.  (Excuse the master photography, but I was rocking the new Ruu-Muu which is the Nuu-Muu with pockets - review coming.)  I get to the parking lot at 6:30am even though I'm not supposed to meet Mary until 7am (we didn't want too much rest time between our miles and the race).  I sat there with the car off and the radio on playing on my phone.  And then the radio zapped off.  Yep, car battery was dead.  Ridiculous.  It wouldn't even turn over, just a click.  It was really odd.  But I decided to brush it from my mind and deal with it later.  Right now, I had 18 miles to focus on.

Mary got there right on time, and we said our hello's and then headed out.  I'm sure we looked a little odd with our race numbers taking a little jaunt around the lake.  We had planned to take it around 11:30 min/mile for the distance before the race, so we slowed ourselves into a steady pace, but we really hit an 11:11 pace.  OK, so the race day adrenaline was already pumping.

We got to the race start with 3.25 miles on the Garmin around 7:40 in the morning.  We had just enough time to walk up the hill and wait in line for the porta-potty.  Took care of that, then straight back down the hill to line up for the start.  We lined up right at the 2:20 pacer where several of my friends had lined up - EW & Dana, Robin W, Pat, and Denya (who you might remember just ran her first half less than a week ago, but it was cut short due to the weather).  Mary was also going to run the race portion with me.  You all *know* how much I love running buddies.  It completely alters my mental state during a run.

I don't have many details about the race itself.  We kept a comfortably hard but steady pace.  The 2:20 pacer was always within eyesight (sometimes ahead of us, sometimes behind).  It was hot, but there was a breeze.  The wind was heavy at times, but not anything crazy.  There were plenty of water/gatorade stops.  And despite thinking at some point the wheels would come off, Mary and I just stayed steady the whole time and came in right on target, beating the 2:20 goal time by just a few seconds... 2:19:54.  My sweet friend Robin (who paced me for my PR back in March) was cheering me through the finish with her girls!  Loved it. 

We decided the best way to finish out the run was to just go for it immediately, so that we could enjoy the after-party and not worry about having more miles to do.  So we grabbed a quick water break and went straight back out to run.  Despite the fact that we said we'd slow down for the remaining miles, we actually sped up and were running at a steady 10 min/mile pace.  Must have had some post-race adrenaline or something.  It was greatness.  Run completed... 18.03 miles, 3:11:57, 10:39 min/mile average pace.  I usually average 11:30s or so on long runs, so I was stoked about keeping the pace the entire time.  Major confidence boost. 

Mary and I relaxed, sat back, and ENJOYED the after-party.  Music, pizza, and chatting with friends.  Eventually we headed to the shuttle.  It seemed to take forever to shuttle back.  Both of us said we should've just walked it... we would've gotten there faster.  We arrived finally, and I was prepared to pull out the jumper cables when I thought I would just give it one more try.  I put the key in and it chug-chug-chug-chugged and finally it started!!!  Thank God for that.  (When I got home, Peter checked and the connection was pretty lose.)

Great day, great confidence boost, and a new running friend.  Can a day get any better?  Oh and check out the loot!!!

And congrats to Denya for finishing all 13.1 feeling great in 2:27.  As a coach, I am ridiculously proud of how dedicated she's been and how well she pulled off back-to-back half marathons as her first and second.  I see big things coming for her!!!