My first race of 2011 is in the books! It went really well and I'm very happy with the results. Now for the details...
I set my alarm for 3:30 on Saturday morning but woke up before the alarm went off. I didn't sleep very well the night before. I almost never do before a race or if I have a plane to catch. I guess because I'm worried that the alarm won't go off. Anyway, I'd packed most of my stuff the night before so I had some orange juice and a banana, visited the bathroom, and got dressed in my gear - UnderAmour hat, Asics shirt, Zoot arm cooler sleeves, CWX shorts, Wrightsocks, and my Pink Kinvaras, (don't you feel like a walking billboard sometimes?) & I was out the door my 4:10 to drive to Long Beach to catch the ferry.
Good thing I left a little early because I got lost on the way to the ferry and it took an extra 20 minutes to get there! Sheesh. But I made it, got my ticket and then ate the rest of my breakfast while waiting to board - 2 mini bagels and a banana.
The ferry ride took about an hour and it was a great trip over to Catalina. I had my headphones and I was listening to Daft Punk & the Kings of Leon and I had my Kindle to read. The goal was to relax and not think about the race so I wouldn't get nervous. I'd already discussed strategy with my coach, Jason, and I didn't want to over think it. The views weren't bad either! The moon was shining on the water and that gave way to a beautiful sunrise. And then as we neared Catalina, I looked out my window and there was a pod of dolphins racing alongside us and leaping in the air! Amazing! They were so beautiful!
Once we landed in Catalina, I got a locker to stash my backpack and then headed over to get my bib, chip, and goodie bag. Then it was back to the locker to store that stuff, hit the restroom again, and put on the bib and chip. About a half hour before, I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle and a mini chocolate chip Cliff Bar. I was going to carry my Ultimate Direction bottle filled with Blueberry Pomegranate Gu Brew but I didn't want to carry any food. Then I did a modified standard warm up and did a short jog for about 3/4 mile to warm up my legs. We were going to start the uphill right away so I wanted them warm at the start. Then it was time!
The race started and we were off at 9 am. Gotta love a race that starts on time! There was a good crowd of a few hundred running the half. We started off in downtown Avalon about a block from the beach and headed for the hills. The first mile and half or so was paved and then we turned onto a fire road which we would be running for the next 10 miles. The race profile said the first 4ish miles would be all uphill and the plan was to go easy until we reached the top. I'd just watched a video by Dave Scott on hill running this week and I tried to remember to incorporate his advice while I was running.
There were a lot of people walking the hills but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, trying to run relaxed and upright and I passed a lot of people. I was listening to my breathing to make sure I wasn't going too hard and trying not to think of how much more hill there would be. Luckily, the views were fantastic and it was such a clear, beautiful day that you could see forever.
Finally, we hit the highest point and had a little break and some great downhill and rollers (miles 6 & 7) before the next climb (mile 8). I didn't push during 6 and 7, just running relaxed so I would have plenty for the next climb. If there is anywhere that I could have maybe pushed a little harder it's here but then who knows how the next mile would have gone.
After the last climb, it leveled off a bit and when we hit mile 9 and the turnaround, I let myself run my heart out. Not red line but nice and hard. It was all downhill from there so I didn't have to conserve for any more climbs. The last 4 miles flew by and it felt like a free fall. At one point, I was going so fast I thought I was going to run off the trail! But luckily that didn't happen *whew*. I passed a few people on the downhill but only 2 people passed me.
Around mile 11, we were back on pavement and the road was smoother so I picked up the pace. I started picking people in front of me as my rabbits to "reel in". First a guy in a red shirt and then when I passed him, a guy in a white shirt. Then I could see the finish line and just gave it everything I had. I heard them call out my bib number and my name and gave it one last kick and then I was across the line and in the finish chute! Done! Woo! I was spent but happy, knowing that I ran it the best I could and never walked any of the hills (which was a vow I made to myself before the start).
They gave me my finisher's medal, a water, and took my chip. It is so hard to stop so suddenly when you've been running all out, isn't it? I walked around for a bit and then got a bagel, some cookies, and 1/2 a banana to munch on. Then I headed back to the locker to get my backpack. My legs felt like they wanted to cramp a little so once I got my backpack, I put on my calf sleeves and they were happy campers. Then I went back to check out the results. Which were:
Age Group: 7/25
Not bad, not bad. After that, I did some shopping and ate lunch (fish & chips) and then took the ferry back to the mainland.
This morning, I hooked up my Garmin so I could record the splits in my logbook and this is what Garmin Connect had to say about my splits and elevation:
Per Garmin Connect - Total Elevation gain was 2847! I don't know how accurate that is but it sure felt like it! Funny thing is, you know how when you know how hard something is you say to yourself you're not going to torture yourself with it again? Never said that to myself during the Buffalo Run. Which tells me that the race was a good one for me!