Dear La Jolla Half Marathon,
I have heard stories about you ever since I moved here almost four years ago and ran my first half marathon. I didn’t hear about your pretty views or running through neighborhoods with street names named after story books and fairy tales. No, I heard about you and your hills. Not only the monster hill you give runners half way through the race, but all the other ones you scatter here and there just to make sure the runners know you are still thinking about them. I skillfully avoided signing up to run you for the last three and a half years by convientantly always working the weekend you came into town. I do not know what came over me this year, but suddenly I had the weekend free and I knew we had to meet. Up until the day before, I still was not sure if I was going to see you. You require a lot of hard work and dedication in order to hang with you, and ( I know you don’t want to hear this) but I just did not have the time to give you what you needed. But not to worry, as you know, I still showed up. I knew you wouldn’t see me in my best form, and you would probably break me down, but I knew it was time that we finally met after all these years. I’m not going to lie, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to see you all the way through, that I might have to walk, or that my splits would be really slow (In case you didn’t know, I have been running really well lately!) But I decided to take a chance on you anyways.
The weather you gave all of us this morning was perfect! Nice and cool (but not cold!) and cloudy. I had no idea how popular you were! There were cars lined up for miles trying to get to you. Luckily, my hubby knows some secret ways around and got me to your starting point in plenty of time. I love how prompt you are! No making all of us runners wait around, you started right on time.
I love the inspiration that you showed me right away! A runner who was blind, another runner with a prosthetic leg, a team of heart transplant survivors, and another runner who had last 140 pounds running a half marathon every week for a year! It was like you were telling me to get over my ego and stop worrying about my pace and if I could finish without walking- you showed me runners who had overcome way more than me to be here and I thank you for that!
I knew you could tell I was holding back the first mile, and that even though I wanted to run faster, I had to try really hard to not to go out too fast because I had a long road in front of me. The first mile was familiar territory, the same course of my 10K in March! It’s amazing when there are not 70 mph winds blowing how much more managable that first hill is! I had wanted to keep my miles around a 10:00min/mile pace. I knew that would feel way slow at first, but would hopefully help me make it to the end! I cruise through mile 1 at 9:58, with my best pace in that mile 9:09. Mile 2 came and went by 9 minutes and 40 seconds later – my best pace here was 8:18! I felt myself going to fast so tried to keep it under control.
At mile 3, you showed us your first hill. It was a little one but oh so steep! I slowed down to 10:07 pace, still feeling good going up the hill.
Right as we headed into that downhill, is when, LJ, I decided you hated me. I was all excited to be cruising downhill when all of sudden the worst pain I had ever experienced while running hit me on the outside of my left knee. LJ, I felt like you had sent someone with a hammer to slice my IT band apart. I got really scared and stopped for a second, hoping it would go away, but every time I started up again, it got worse! I knew in my head that there might be a chance that I may not finish you, but I didn’t think I would have to part ways as early as mile 4! I run/walked mile 4 and finished in at 10:37. I saw the monstrous mountain that is Torrey Pines in front of me, and I wanted so badly to try to conquer it. I couldn’t quit now! I knew I was risking a potentially major injury, but my stubborness was higher than ever. I even managed to finish mile 5 and my fastest pace of the day – 9:51, all the time while it pain.
I started the climb at Torrey Pines, and amazingly, NO MORE PAIN! Not one single bit. My pace slowed tremendously, but I realized that for the rest of this race, the hills were going to be my friend and the downhills were going to be my enemy. LJ, how did you know, but you the route you gave us ran right by the very spot I got engaged at! It made that yucky hill all that much better. Could you see how happy I was when I reached the top and I did not stop even once to walk?? I felt like I could finish the race right there and be happy. In fact, I was confused why we had to keep running after we conquered that hill. Wasn’t that enough for you? I guess you wanted to see what we were all made of. Miles 6 through 8 had the most elevation gain, as you could tell through my pace of 13:16, 11:06, and 10:57.
The next three miles my knee pain became more dull like so I was able to pick up my pace a bit (but not too much, I was really hoping to finish you at this point). I made the decision to walk through all the water stations and stretch a little bit. In my mind, I thought that would help things! I took a GU at mile 10 (mmm peanut butter) and I appreciated you being nice to me for a few miles. I finished miles 9, 10, and 11 and 10:06, 10:00, and 10:12 respectively, with my best pace in all those miles being around 8:20-8:40. You even included on your course the spot where we got married almost 11 months ago to the day!! I liked that too.
Mile 12 came and I swear you made that longest mile of my life LJ! After my stop at the last water station, that excruiating pain in my left knee came back ten fold. Thank you for giving me a hill at the end. While everyone else was cursing you, I was so happy because that meant no knee pain. However, you ended us on the steepest downhill ever. It was so bad I almost started crying! I even had to stop 100 yards before the finish to walk because it hurt so bad. Yes, right by the finish – this was normally when I would be sprinting! But not today. When I realized that walking didn’t even make it matter, I hobbled on through to the finish, limping all the way. My mile 12 pace was 11:59 (pain all the way) and my finishing pace was 10:02. I stopped my garmin during the times I was stretching at the water stations and walking through them, because I just wanted to know my average running time. My total running distance ended up being 12.91 miles in a time of 2:17:54. My total elapsed time was 2:25 (aka my official chip time).
LJ, thank you for teaching me many lessons today. You taught me how to be humble and let go of my ego and I learned that just because you may have to stop and walk a little bit, completing 13.1 miles in any form is a pretty awesome accomplishment. You showed me that no matter how bad I think I have it, there are others who have overcome far worse and are still out there kicking it. You taught me that you really can make it to the top (of a hill) if you really set your mind to it. You also taught me that I need a rest day and which is why the remainder of my day will be spent on the couch with frozen bags vegetables stuck to my knees. I also please ask that you didn’t leave me permanmently damaged. I have some fun races coming up I want to do!
Until next time –
La Jolla Half Marathon
Garmin Time (for 12.91 miles) 2:17:54
Chip Time: 2:25
Clock Time: 2:28