Thursday, February 9, 2012

Surf City RR - More LoopFest Magic

I came into this race ready to rock a good one. Training has been going great, and I figured there was no reason I shouldn't beat my Philly PR of 1:34:42. Maybe even go under 1:34. So my plan was to go out at 7:25ish, try to relax through the first 4 miles while working the pace down to 7:15, and then knock it down close to 7 flat and hold it all the way in.

On the other hand, my priority has been marathon training, and I just finished 3 big weeks including 20 milers the last two Sundays. Plus I was more focused on LoopFest fun and hosting than focusing on the race.

On the other hand, I had an easy taper week of only 7 on Tuesday and 5 on Friday, so my legs should have enough zip in them. So no excuses.

Race morning the alarm was set for 5, but I was awake by 3:30 and just laid there for an hour. We hit the road before 6 and parked at a lot where we would take a shuttle to the race. The shuttle line was huge, and we waited about half an hour. There were still many people behind us who I can't imagine made it in time for the start. Glad we got out of there before the riot.

One of the big bonuses for me for this race was that I had a Loopy running buddy. MildSauce and I are about the same speed, so we planned to start out together and see how long we could help each other. I would hold her back from her usual too-fast start, and she would.....keep me company. Not many people are more entertaining and fun to hang out with than the 'Sauce so I felt pretty lucky, even though she lost her D-tag and we had to rush around at the last minute and get a new bib. We had to skip the potty lines and just head to the start. Luckily it was easy to jump right in the first corral, and we ran into the DW and Mrs AB just before the national anthem.

Within minutes, we were off! No warmup run, full bladders, whatever, here we go!

Being in the first corral was nice, as crowding was not a problem at all. We settled into a pace that was a little fast, but not too bad, and went through mile 1 in 7:11. I tried to relax and slow down, but it was feeling good. Mile 2 was 7:12. Mile 3 we couldn't help speeding up even more. That darn Sauce would always be a half step ahead - 7:01. It appeared that it was going just like my last two (very successful) pikermis; Way ahead of schedule but feeling good - which meant either another huge PR, or a painful crash and burn. Based on history I liked my chances.

Mile 4 was the only decent hill on the course and I tried to relax going up it, and the pace dropped to 7:16. But then mile 5 was downhill and I hit 6:54. At this point, Saucy started to drop back. I was getting into the zone as I like to use the downhill momentum to get into a fast pace. So I would be on my own.
I was pushing hard but feeling good for miles 6-10. 6:58, 7:04, 7:10, 7:02, 7:02

So I hit ten in under 71 minutes, did the math, and knew I could break 1:34 even if I fell apart, maybe break 1:33 if I could keep this up. But I was tiring. My calves were tightening. It was not going to be easy. Also, I had thought that this out and back run on Pacific Coast Highway was flat, but apparently they added some hills while I was out near the turnaround. What seemed flat going out was actually a little down. And now it seemed like much of the last 3 miles coming back was a gradual uphill.

Well that certainly made it a little tougher. We were running directly into the rising sun, getting hotter and now I had to go uphill. Ok it wasn't that much of a hill, but at that point in the race, it was depressing. I latched on to some other runners and tried to maintain. Miles 11 and 12 were both 7:15. The zip in my legs was gone and I was just trying not to cramp. FINALLY, the road crested in the last mile and I was able to bring the pace up a little bit as I headed in. Mile 13 was 7:00, and I finished up at 6:37 pace with some joyous pumping.

For the first time ever, there is video evidence of finish line bangle pumping! Click here for the official pictures and video. You can't miss me toward the end of the video.

Final time: 1:33:18!!! An 84 second PR! 71.2% age grade! And First Loopster!

Here I am near the finish.

Met up with MildSauce and JunBlack soon after the finish, and we headed to the beer tent. The other loopsters gradually filed in, and it was a blast to share stories and successes. It was a beautiful day and we all got to do what we love and share it with a big crowd of similar maniacs. Awesome.

Eventually we all made it to Alice's house for the post-party. TONS of food, everyone was happy, there was football, sunshine, beer, medals. Simply a fabulous Loopy party! And I got to show up in this shirt that I got for Christmas.

Life is Good.

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