Wow! What a ride! I did the La Jolla Half Marathon on April 24th and it was the hardest race I’ve ever done! Seriously, there were tears. There was wailing. There was much gnashing of teeth. It would be overcast, they said. It would be a great day to run, they said. Alas, it was a really huge challenge for me and given my history with this race, it was even more challenging.
Way back in 2009, I
ran attempted to run the La Jolla Half Marathon. The problem was that my training was spotty at best. I was completely unprepared. When it came time to run the race, I got only 3-4 miles in before my calf started complaining and I had to walk off the course. The worst part was that my confidence was shaken and I never really recovered from it. In fall 2009, I did successfully complete the AFC (America’s Finest City) Half Marathon and again in 2010, I came close to PR’ing the course. Nevertheless, the failure, the Did Not Finish loomed over every run I did for the next several years.
Since January 2015, I’ve been plotting my comeback, however, starting with the Couch to 5k program. In the early part of 2015, I could scarcely run a quarter mile without stopping. My weight was at an all-time high and my confidence was at an all-time low. Rather than giving up, however, I kept on with the training—-run, walk, run, walk, run—until I could finally complete my first 5k in many years without stopping.
The Training 2016:
In January 2016, I ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon after training hard. I met my goal, which was to finish under 3 hours. I barely eeked by, with a finish time of 2:58:46, but eek by, I did! After the Carlsbad Half was over, I took an entire week off and began to train harder and further than before. In 12 weeks, I saw my mile splits slowly, yet steadily decrease with every training run. I ran with faster friends in the dark. I ran with the dog. I ran whenever I could with a group, with a friend, or by myself. I trained on lots of hills and I got stronger with every run. I ran the infamous Torrey Pines hill that is a villainous presence on the course. While beautiful, the big hill in Torrey Pines park overlooks the Pacific Ocean, but to get to its crest, you have to climb 440 steep feet. It got easier with every try.
Although I had a history with this race, I had a bit of confidence. I had completed Carlsbad successfully and I had trained on that hill several times. I knew I could finish. I didn’t know how long it would take me. I had a goal time of 2:30-2:45, but I knew I’d be happy if I only finished. We stayed in La Jolla the night before the race. Mr. Bear and I had a nice dinner, we soaked in the hot tub, and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. I tried to go to bed early, nonetheless, my nerves didn’t let me sleep until just after midnight.
My friend Pam, whom I’d trained the Torrey Pines hill with a few times was kind enough to pick me up from the hotel and we headed to the start. We were there early enough that we got to chit chat with friends new and old for nearly an hour, talking about things runners talk about—like exchanging bad bathroom experiences on other races and other running adventures. My friend Mollie decided the day before to run the race. I found her and we got corralled with all the other runners.
Mollie and I ran together the first few miles. She’s a natural born runner and is lightning fast, so she usually leaves me in the dust a few miles in. I tried to chase my rabbit friend for a while until she peeled off with the other rabbits. I found my groove and started to settle in. It was such a relief when I passed the point I had to walk off the course years before, with my Do Not Finish in this race. I kept on going!
I hit the Torrey Pines hill and had no plans of running up the steep hill. It started getting hot as I was climbing up the hill and I was beginning to get angry at the weather. It was supposed to be overcast and cloudy! Why was the sun out? I managed to get up the Torrey Pines hill and then I started to fall apart. I was out of gas at mile 8 and I was angry at the seemingly endless hills. I don’t think I gave myself enough fuel on this race. I probably should have taken a sports gel at this point. Instead, I let the course get in my head and my attitude completely sucked.
By the time I got to the downhill part of the race, my legs were fatigued and I couldn’t get past my anger at the sunshine. I hadn’t trained for an April race with sunshine. This race was supposed to be shaded with cloud cover! I pushed past the pain and in mile 11, I started to compose myself. I knew I could run two more miles! Two more miles was nothing.
Of course, much of the last two miles of this course was——DRUM ROLL!!!—-More stupid hills. This time, I ran because all I wanted to do was to be finished with the course and say that I did it! I saw the finish line. I saw my friends that had already finished and I sprinted as fast as I could, the last 50 meters or so.
My finish time?
I finished just shy of 7 minutes faster than I had completed the Carlsbad Half three months before. This was quite an accomplishment, considering the difficulty of this race. It’s one of the challenging races, with the most hills around San Diego. It certainly was more challenging than Carlsbad, in terms of elevation.
I DID IT! I conquered La Jolla Half Marathon!
I would have loved to achieve my goal time of 2:30-2:45. Overall, however, I have no regrets. I know I did my best and I know that some days, running is harder than others. No regrets!
Keep on the lookout for my next race report! I’ll be sharing about my Tinkerbell Half Marathon I finished on Mother’s Day!