Rose Bowl Half Marathon

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The hardest decision for yesterday's race? Picking out clothes.

The forecast had been mentioning rain all week. The morning dawned bright but I wasn't taking any chances. I put on one set of running clothes, checked the weather one last time, packed up several alternate layers, and headed out for Pasadena. I figured an hour would be plenty of time to get my registration packet, gear up for the race, adjust clothing to the conditions, and make one last potty stop before the start.

I was right - barely. After waiting in a long line for a stall I made it to the start line with about a minute to spare. Somehow I picked Mister P out of the crowd and forced my way over to wish him luck. The gun went off and we crossed the line together before he dashed off into the crowd.

The first few miles were downhill and so I went out a little faster than I did in Santa Clarita last month. I tried to keep The Sandbagger in view as we made our way through the neighborhoods of Pasadena.

At around mile 3 we hit our first of many big hills. It was time to back off the pace a bit - I tried to settle into a good tempo. I slowly caught up with The Sandbagger somewhere in the third mile. We had this brief exchange:

Me: Clip clop clip clop
TS: Have we hit Mile 1 yet? I haven't seen any signs!
Me: Umm. Yeah. We just passed "3"
TS: (looks at his watch) Oh! Meep Meep zip Bang! (a la The Roadrunner)

Off he went like a shot.

We ran past scaffolding erected for the Rose Parade and the Gamble House before coming across the timing pad at the 10k point - 54 minutes, wow, I've got a shot at a PR here!

Not too far past the timing pad I slurped down a delicious gel pack and headed down onto the dirt trails that made up the middle section of the run. I was a little concerned about dust in this section but the week's rain made that a non-issue. I walked up a brutal uphill stretch of single-track trail - some poor dad out for a weekend stroll with his two little kids got caught on this section while I was climbing it. I encouraged the little girls, separated from their father, to wait on the uphill side of the trail so they didn't get hurt or fall down the side of the hill. (I didn't hear any screaming so I'm guessing that worked out okay.)

Once off this slope I tried to find The Sandbagger. He had opened up another 50 yards or so on me and so I went back to trying to reel him in without blowing myself out. At around mile 8 we got to the turnaround point and went onto another single-track trail. I really didn't like this stretch - it was very narrow and I was in a pack of runners that was moving along at a pretty good clip, enjoying the slight downhill slope. I had the feeling that if I slipped I would end up at the bottom of an eight-runner pileup.

As I came up to the Mile 10 marker I realized that I could still run a PR - if I ran the fastest 5k I'd ever run ever in my life ever. (My watch said 1:30, my half PR is around 1:53:30, and my 5k PR is 24ish.) I knew it was a longshot but I also knew the course was mostly downhill for the last three miles, so I poured it on, passing several people on the last big uphill section of the course.

Once again I could see The Sandbagger, 100 yards in front of me. I tried to keep him in sight while holding a sub-8 pace. Coming into mile 12 I had closed the gap down to about 50 yards but that was as close as I could get. Just like Stroller Lady at Santa Clarita last year, he might as well have been on a different planet.

In the end I just couldn't do it. My times for the last three miles were 8:03, 7:31, and 7:45 - fading to an 8:17 pace for the last tenth of a mile. I was just blown out. I had gone as hard as I could for as long as I could, but still managed a respectable (for me) time of 1:54:45.

Q&A With JaR:

Q: What's with "The Sandbagger?"
A: Look. Mister P has been telling me for the last two months "oh, I haven't run a sub two hour half in forever. oh, I haven't been running enough. oh, I had a bad long run this weekend oh, I have to wear these clown shoes to work because I have a pizza-sized blister on my foot" Then he peels out like Evel Kneivel from the start line, and when he gets a whiff of me behind him takes off like he'd been stung. Yeah. Right.

Q: How do you feel about your time?
A: I feel great! I wanted to improve on last month's Santa Clarita time (1:57:49) - check. It was a tough course and I'm quite pleased that in spite of all the hills I sliced a little more than three minutes off that time. I know that I was sniffing a PR for some of the race but I was not expecting one at all. I had nothing left for a finishing kick so I know I left it all out there. I did good.

Q: How about the Masters Clydesdale bit?
A: This was good too. It gave me something else to think about as I passed people, or people passed me. Just how fat is that guy? Does he look like he weighs over 200 pounds? I ended up finishing sixth in the class (out of 45, I was surprised how big the class was - no pun intended), which is fantastic! I had the 9th-fastest 10k split, so I picked a few guys off in the last six miles in spite of my so-so last mile. I'm hooked - I'd much rather finish 6th of 45 than 37th of 79, which is where I would have landed if I had run in my age group.

Q: How was the race otherwise?
A: Not bad, on balance. Good things: "Day-of" packet pickup. Two free beers after the race. Nice medal. Friendly volunteers on the course. Challenging course. Bad things: $10 to park. Two stalls in the men's room. Hard-to-find post-race snacks. Lame goody bag - homeopathic toothpaste?

Q: Free beers?
A: I know, crazy, huh? The beer sponsor was Michelob Ultra - which I discovered later is a low-cal, low-carb beer. This information almost led to another weblog entry titled "Does This Half Marathon Make Me Look Fat?" or "I Burned 2000 Calories and All You've Got Is Light Beer?" I know that 10 AM may seem early for a beer but the one I shared with Mister P was pretty tasty.

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Mister P. said:

I'm the Sandbagger?! What about Mister "Santa Clarita was my big race last month, I'm not really training for this one"?

Face it. You ran zoom zoom.

Brad said:

No doubt, I ran the best race I could have run this weekend. Zoom zoom? Let's reserve that for people who actually do run fast.

I was just surprised to see you out front after all the sad-sack poor mouthing I've been hearing lately, flash.

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This page contains a single entry by published on December 9, 2007 8:56 AM.

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