A Tale of Marathon Number Two

Runners head to the starting line as the sky breaks.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. How many times must “A Tale of Two Cities” be quoted in a lifetime, I know. But I feel for this blog post it is fitting, especially in a runner’s world. A runner could have the best training cycle ever, only to have the worst race day ever. It’s a pity, really, to work so hard for something only to blow it when that curtain comes up. Thus, let my journey through the Half Moon Bay International Marathon tale begin….

It seems like yesterday, man time goes by way too fast, when Alyssa tweeted about the Half Moon Bay Marathon.  She mentioned to me that it is up my alley as it holds ocean views along the course. This made me giddy. The website description mentioned that it was a flat and fast course. This also made me ecstatic. However, the course did hold some gravel paths that was stated in the description. I signed up immediately and thus began a training plan. Fast forward four months later and it is now time to run my second marathon.

In a post past Exploring the Course, I had mentioned that I went out and ran the course as a training run. The paths were not gravel at all, but single track trails that have some pretty tough terrain. If you weren’t careful you could possibly fall into a ditch and twist an ankle. I am a faster road runner and a very slow trail runner. I love the trails, but I either need to stay just on roads or just on trails. The two combined just murder me mentally, and physically. I ran a partial of the course that day, and after that I should have prepared myself better by running on more trails. I did not though. I continued to run my trainings on pavement forgetting how much slower I do become on those trails. Based off my training I was confident that I would get a sub 4. This, however, was not the course for me to do it on. 

Before I continue with my running adventure, I wanted to mention that this year was the inaugural Half Moon Bay marathon. And for being the first year, I felt it was a very well organized event. All the staff and volunteers were not only the friendliest of folks, but were also very well informed. It was clear that they all went above and beyond to put on such a successful race. 

Do you know your way to Half Moon Bay?
This first year was kept to a limit of 500 runners in the 10k, half marathon, and full. The bibs were even customized for each runner. Those who were getting their marathon cherry popped had a red bib to signify such. It was awesome to see so many newbie marathon runners out on the course. 
My only gripe with the event was that I felt the course was not properly explained on the website. So many other races try to draw people in by saying the course is flat and fast when indeed this is not the case. There were some rolling hills as well as one big hill. Also, the course map for the HMB marathon I felt was a bit confusing to read, as I would have loved to seen each of the mile markers. The website did have pictures of the course, but I still felt I needed a bit more. Maybe it was just me. A description that perhaps said half road and half trails would have been grand! Couldn’t beat the scenery of the gorgeous ocean views though. Despite the gripe, I felt this was a great community race to be a part of and look forward to what possibilities lay in store for next year’s event!

And back to race day…I rode up with Dennis at such a grand hour of the morning. We both mentioned we were not morning people, but talked the drive away all just the same. We got situated and ran into Road Bunner who was also running the marathon. 

Dennis and I at the starting line.

Posing with the Awesome Amanda who helped organize the event. She was also quite the tour guide when I ran the course as a training run weeks past.

The sky was just breaking. I used the facilities and just as I got back to the starting line the race began! Right at the beginning I met one of my twitter friends and fellow bloggers; Elise. We chatted for a bit and I regret not getting a picture with her. Next time! It was awesome to have a person to chat with until we got to the hill. Yes, I have mentioned before that hills are not my greatest strength and because it was so early on, I didn’t want to push it! So I ran it slowly. At the top of the hill were some very enthusiastic volunteers who were singing their lungs out! Apparently these awesome girls were morning people and it was so nice to have them on the course. It was around this time that I felt short of breath. I couldn’t contain it no matter what I tried. This carried on for many miles. This also led to me feeling ill off and on throughout the majority of the race. So much that I would be forced to take walking breaks in fear that I was going to puke my brains out. There were a few out and backs on this course which was, while not ideal, awesome to see some familiar faces like Elise, Dennis, and Road Bunner along the course. I also spotted fellow daily miler Jose  out on the course, caring a pink rose. His story is very inspirational that it indeed was enough to keep me motivated to press on. Every runner was so super supportive whether they were a fastie or not, as we crossed paths, it was common to hear words of encouragement. The race might have been small, but it was certainly filled by big hearted runners!

Pillar Point Harbor along the course.

I would normally give a play by play of each mile. But really, it would be me saying the same thing – I was out of breath even though I was running a 9 minute plus mile (which is a rarity for me.) I felt ill. I pushed on...
… … …
The course does pass through the finish line where I was happy to see Naomi running the 10k which was held on the same course. It was great to see yet another familiar face. I was then led to the second half of the course. 

Thank You Courtney for the picture of the course.
It included lot’s more dirty ditches and technical terrain. Back on pavement, but briefly, who do I see in the distance, but the fabulous Katie, Alyssa, and Courtney cheering on the runners. I was expecting to see them as it was planned that they would help give me a push in those last few miles. I was quite delayed by my ETA that I had originally told them. They were amazing though! They were so happy and positive. Katie even ran with a cowbell rooting every runner that crossed our path. Though my mood was crabby, I felt so blessed to have such amazing women in my life! If Katie ever retires from running which I’m betting not…This girl will seriously be running in her grave, she would make a great coach! She is tough, yet understanding. She helped me push through. And I am very grateful.

The one picture I snapped on the course was the beautiful Ritz Carlton and grounds of the golf course.

I guess you could say those last six miles I crashed, but looking back at it, I think I had crashed throughout the whole darn race. I finished though, 20 minutes passed my goal time at 4:15:29. I did PR by 23 minutes and because it was a small race I placed 50th overall, 13th female, and 6th in my age group. I will admit that once I got home, I cried. I cried because I felt that I let myself down. I felt that I let others down. Like a failed relationship, I questioned where did I go wrong? I kept my nutrition up, even on the course. I trained hard with my long runs kept at an 8:30 avg pace. I did everything I could to ensure a good race day. It just wasn’t in the cards for me. It just wasn’t my day. And that happens. And the course was tough. And I can go on with a thousand different reasons why it didn’t work in my favor. 
Amazing runners from Left Courtney, Alyssa, E, Dennis, Katie, Naomi, and Road Bunner
At the finish, I claimed I would never run another marathon again. That I don’t think running long distance is my forte. However, now that I think about it a bit more – I need redemption! Yes, I would love to BQ at some point. It seems impossible right now. But for the moment – I need to get what I worked so hard for and that is a sub 4. So, I am open to suggestions on marathons that I can achieve such. Hills are okay, as long as I know about them and perhaps there are less than more. I would like to keep it strictly a road race if it is all the same, and of course I thank you in advance for your suggestions. Just keep running, just keep running (If Dory was a human instead of a fish this would be her chat) running..Running!
So that is my story. Surrounded by the beauty of Half Moon Bay, I pretty much crashed and burned but gained a lot out of the experience overall. I am very lucky to have such amazing runners in my life whether electronically or in person for each and every one of you has been super supportive by giving me the strength to push on. You also have helped me to recognize my achievements verses dwelling on an ill performance.
Post beer at Sam's Cowder house - The main race sponsor.


Anonymous said…
Did you have a typo in there about your long runs? If your goal was a sub 4hr marathon you should of been doing them at a 9:30 - 10:00 pace. The goal of the long run is time on feet to train muscle recruitment and your body to burn fuel (fat) efficiently.

Still, if you PR'd by 23 minutes, then it was a very successful race. Congrats!
Alisyn said…
Thank you very much for stopping by. I actually adopted the Daniel's Running Formula where I ran a partial at my threshold pace on those long runs. It was something I wanted to try. I do believe that to get faster you have to run faster - And I was showing remarkable improvement in my Half Mary times with this formula to boot. I felt it was pretty effective, but then perhaps not based on my marathon performance. It was worth a try! :)
Alisyn - 1st off, great race and congrats on a PR. Even on a bad day and a less than optimal course you did awesome. I enjoyed reading your race report very much. Have you considered the California International Marathon in December? Some hills, but net downhill is what I hear and a very fast course.
XLMIC said…
I've run CIM... it is a GREAT marathon. I like Mike's idea... if you're up for something that soon.

PR'ing by 23 minutes is no small feat...and on partial trails! I understand the disappointment you're expressing, though. You will run sub-4, girl! I KNOW it :)
Ed said…
Looks like that was a great run! Congrats on your second!
I am the king of second-guessing myself after a race so I understand where you are coming from. I normally say I'll never run another one somewhere after mile 20, so you're not alone. This sounds like an experience race, not a PR course. Big Sur has breathtaking views but no one goes there expecting to BQ. To shave that much time after your second race is huge. You have the number one thing required to someday get your BQ, and that's the hunger. Rest a week, and take time to think about your next race. You rock!
Dave G said…
Good run - to paraphrase (liberally) Tom Hanks: Marathons are supposed to be tough; if they were easy, anyone could do one. The tough is what makes them great." A 23 minute PR on a hilly course with a lot of single track is pretty awesome.
As far as good future marathons, I signed up for Surf City in February (one hill, highest elevation of 100' and paved) and I will try to get into the 2012 Marine Corp Marathon. Both should be pretty good for posting some good times.
Tricia said…
It sucks to not do as well as you think you should have. But nice job on the PR. Sounds like an interesting course.

I was going to suggest CIM too -- not that I've run it but you can't beat a net downhill and it isn't that far out to capitalize on current training.
Thomas Bussiere said…
You did totally awesome girl. PR on a hilly tough marathon course - That is significant improvement. The sub 4 and BQ is yours. You are ready now, just find a flatter road course and kill it. I would love to have a 23 min PR - Big smiles and huge congrats.
Paulette said…
I totally forgot you had run this one and had to come back to dig up the race report! Great detail. :)

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