Saturday, March 23, 2013

Finally - A race in 2013!

After a slow start to the year running-wise and then waffling about this race or that race, it seems that I have settled on a schedule, at least until July.  After that, I've bounced around a few ideas in my head, but I'm taking  the "wait and see" approach for now.  I signed up for most of the key races for the year a few months ago, but was waiting to decide about Mt. Wilson.  When registration opened and closed within two hours, and I didn't have second thoughts about not registering or feel the slightest pang of regret, I knew that I had made the right decision.  Instead of Mt. Wilson on Memorial Day Weekend, I'll be running the Ojai-Ventura half-marathon which is a longer race but should be much easier to train for.  It is nice to have a schedule set and be able to focus on it!

Speaking of schedules, I was pretty happy with my training in February, but then March rolled around, and things, as they say, fell apart these past two weeks.  This usually happens in March, but particularly this year.  I've tried to take it in stride and enjoy the training that I've managed.  I was, however, looking forward to my first race of 2013 - the Great Race of Agoura Hills 10K.  This is a huge race, mainly because there are actually 4 different races going on: a trail half-marathon, a road half, a 10K and a 5K. Not to mention the kids' race.  I'd read good things about the race, and it worked out with my schedule - first day of spring break, first race of the season - why not?

My original plan for the race was to try for a PR.  I hadn't run a stand-alone 10K since November of 2011, and it happens to be one of my favorite distances.  Luckily I still had my 2011 race time which allowed me to "qualify" for Wave 1.  I think that they must have limited the number of people who were allowed to qualify, because I'm certainly no major speedster.  Still, I was glad that I ended up in that wave - it was so much smaller and easier to start and to maneuver.  But, back to my race plan.  At some point this week I decided that no way was I going to shoot for a PR.  I looked at the race profile, and it looked fairly hilly. Also, I didn't want to kill my legs and need one or two rest days (yes, I'm old; yes, I need rest days after a hard race).  In addition, Michael and I went out on Friday night and I had what must be the worst pre-race meal/s ever.  We started out with mussels and french fries and white wine, and then we ended the evening with pizza.  So, with all of that in mind, I woke up this morning taking the attitude that this would be a good way to push myself at a strong pace, but I didn't need to try to kill it.  Or myself.

Going with that attitude, I was pretty calm at the start - excited to actually be at a starting line after a 4 month hiatus!  I did wish for slightly warmer temperatures at the start and didn't shed layers until a few minutes before the race.

I love the yellow pants behind me - such a classy look!

At 7:28 (or thereabouts), we were off!  The beginning of the race is a on a descent, and people took off.  I looked down at my watch and noticed a faster pace than expected/desired, so I pulled back just a bit. I was at the back of the first wave, but I reminded myself that I wanted to pace the race, not have a great first mile and then fall apart at the end when the hills hit:

The first mile or two were pretty boring - typical suburban neighborhoods, but at some point in mile 2, we began to enjoy rolling hills and nice countryside - lots of wonderful oak trees and even some horsies!  Also, I felt great the first few miles and knew that there was a hill at mile 4, but once we were on the hill, I was able to easily keep my pace and pick off other people.  It made me quite grateful for the hills that I confront every time I head out on a run from our front door!  Finally, at mile 5, I decided to pick it up - there were still some hills remaining, but I was confident that I could keep a faster pace.  I almost regretted it when we hit yet another hill - the last one - but I managed to push it and ended just under 49:00. 

Michael snapped this awesome shot of me sporting my medal (can you tell that Dole sponsored this race?):

The medal and the t-shirt, by the way, are both pretty heinous.  Despite that, I would consider running this race next year because it really is a fun course.

After the race, Michael and I grabbed a 'real' breakfast at Brent's Deli, an old favorite which is in the area, and I inhaled eggs, toast, and hashbrowns.  We weren't the only racers/spectators who had this idea - I could tell because a few people were still wearing their awful medals.  (Not to offend anyone, but I find it so annoying when people wear race medals after the race if EVERYONE gets a medal.  If you won, fine, wear your medal, but if you just want attention, then it's lame! Okay, rant over, and maybe I'm alone in my opinion, but I'm okay with that too.  Same with people who don't try to wash off their numbers after a triathlon or cut off their wrist race wrist band for days.) 

My run wasn't a PR, but this is definitely a harder course than the flat-as-pancake race from which my current PR hails.  However, the course was not as hard as I expected, and a part of me wishes that I had tried for a PR.  Especially since I ended at 5th in my age group and maybe I would have ended at 4th or 3rd if I'd pushed myself a bit more.  Still, it was a good race, a good finish and a good overall place for me.

Ah well, ifs, maybes and buts.  At any rate, it feels good to finally line up at the starting line!


mindful mule said...

Ojai-Ventura Half sounds like a nice run.
I like your unique pre-race meal.
Congrats on getting back in the race.

Molly said...

Wow, fast run! Great job!

Kristina said...

Rob - I'm excited about the Ojai-Ventura half. It's on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, in case you're interested... And I can't wait to hear all about your ride - can't believe that it was a few weeks ago already!

Molly - Well, it's speedy for me and it's been awhile since that has happened!

kilax said...

Whoa! Nice race! That is speedy! It makes me wonder what your PR is!!! Congrats on #5 in AG!

Ha ha ha. Sounds like an awesome pre-race dinner. ;)