Monday, August 18, 2008

Doing the Hills, But Not the Heat

So...there was some gentle harassment about my lack of a race report on race day...but I've got some REALLLLLLYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOD reasons why I didn't post a race report yesterday... REALLLLLYYYYY I DOOOOOO.
  • I was REALLLLLLLLY tired after the race. It was hot and humid and while we trained for hills, we didn't do much in the way of heat training...AND even though reported it was 69 degrees at 7am and only 72 degrees by 9am, I humbly, but emphatically DISAGREE as I know for certain it was WAAAAAYYYY hotter than that...maybe it was the humidity, or the lack of cooling ocean breezes, but it felt hot, damn hot, too damn hot for me to have anything cleverly to write about later on... lies...lies I tell ya..
  • I got really dehydrated during this race...partially due to the heat and partially due to REALLY POOR PLANNING on the part of AFC ...and the complete lack of water stations in the part of the race which was hottest...the flat parts going into Harbor Island and out of it...both times there are 2.5 miles between the water stations (4 mile - 6.5 mile points...and 2.5 miles between 8 and 10.5 miles). Now in many races, perhaps this isn't such a big deal, but people...this race is in AUGUST...WHEN IT'S HOT and/or HUMID and/or BOTH here in So. Cal! Betty and I counted hearing and/or seeing sirens at least five times because people were colapsing due to the heat. (note to self, if I run this next year, I'm carrying water...I've learned my lesson). I know my walk at mile 9 and then again at mile 10 (uncharacteristic for me) were dehydration related...and this also contributed to my not writing a race report last night.
  • I will say however, that after the race, Walter attained god-like, rock-star, status when he handed Betty and me beers ( before 10am...I can't even remember the last time I had a beer at 10am...), but this WAS medicinal beer and thus, completely appropriate, at the same time, it certainly didn't make writing after the race any more likely to occur.
Betty and her husband...enjoying the beer and the chair...
husbands are rock-star gods for taking care of us post-race!

  • After the after-race nap, Betty, Mik, and Elsie joined me (and my sister who was visiting from LA) by the pool for more beer, and wine, and pizza, and ChexMix (otherwise known as crack), and some completely satisfying baklava to celebrate the race and to retell race stories. Additionally we further identified several other words we would NEVER say at a staff meeting (e.g: deep, penetrate, organism, service the student, damp, four minute effort, abreast...yes, we're all very mature...and judging by your comments to my last post, so are all of you!). Unfortunately the afternoon also made a quick, post-race report being written wayyyyy less likely to occur.
  • BTW - Here's a math equation for math teacher Edith, who kicked some serious ass and placed 6th in her age division in the AFC 5K that morning with her blistering 8.17 go girl, that describes my day in mathematical terms...4am wakeup + 13.1 miles + 1 beer = after-race nappy - after-race bloggy.
  • Also, in my mom-life, the next day (today) was DramaGirl's and Turbo's return to school (Hooray...a parent's favorite day of the year!), which meant that last night was all about making sure that school supplies were distributed and then fought over--this despite purchase of said supplies was made at Costco, which meant that there were MORE FREAKIN' G.D. MECHANICAL PENCILS than anyone could possibly ever lose in a school year available for each pre-teen who lives in this house. But mandatory bickering session took place nonetheless (did I mention that I was tired and therefore not particularly willing or able to endure bickering session)...And which also made writing post-race report was impossible to imagine.
  • Oh yeah, I also started a new job teaching at a local community college today (moving after 17 years as a high school teacher), and none of my syllabuses are finished yet (students don't start for another week, so I figure I still have time) so I was a little distracted by that.
  • Finally, the AFC website didn't post official results until late last night (although late, in my book, could have been any time after 8:30, because that's when I went to bed), so I couldn't verify my race time...and I wanted to be I had, yet another excuse, to not write.
So, my race report is a little late, but I've included a few some photos, and it is G.D. accurate...and I'm completely enthusiastic about it. So here goes...
  • Woke up at 4am...caught bus to start at 5:15 (AFC is a point to point run, so we take shuttle buses to the point and run back to Balboa Park)...Cabrillo monument is beautiful in the AM. Betty and I are sad to note that we can see morning haze covering the city, but the sky above us is clear...much like it was last Saturday. Only this time it's clear, we'll have no choice but to run in the sun.
Betty and I pre-race. Cabrillo Point Light House is behind my head
  • Had lovely conversation with fellow runner. Somehow Betty ended up talking about D1 who is young for her grade. Fellow runner asks if D1 is "exceptionally bright," which I am now sure was somehow her subconsciously noticing the "exceptionally bright" running shirts we wear, but which elicited numerous comments from Betty about the flashy clothing D1 wears from time to time.
  • We look for Alberta and guess that she is no-doubt on the last bus (she was), but we sadly are unable to locate her...silly heffer, didn't wear the lime-green racing shirt!
  • Race starts on time. Lots of runners. Since we've been at the race start for almost an hour, right about race time, we do our final porta-potty business. We'd been told that the PP lines toward the start are shorter, so we head that way...which works, but also puts us more toward the start line than we typically start...which is mostly a bad thing.
The crowd at the start of the race. Three minutes of solid people in front...about another 10 minutes worth of runners behind us.
  • Since we started at the mid-front part of the pack, we start the race WAYYYY TOOOOO FAST. I realize this when we pass the 1 mile marker in 10:15 and think..."oh...this is going to be bad" and try to slow down, but Betty and I are still keeping up with the crowd and pass mile 2 in about 21 minutes (still too fast).
  • Even though we are wearing our florescent neon-lime green race shirts, I lose Betty in the crowd around mile 2.
  • Gu at mile 3.
  • Also...around mile 3 a paramedic-truck tries to make it's way up the still really crowded street...honking and siren's blaring. No doubt to assist the fallen runner (what I assume is the first heat-dehydration casualty I've seen, but may have also been a person who just fell down...the descent from Cabrillo is STEEP!). Still, a little worry in my subconscious is no-doubt planted about the possible effects of the heat and humidity.
  • Betty passes me around the water station at mile 4. She always runs faster than me downhill. We comment about the fallen runner, note that we went out probably too fast, figure we'll pay for it at some point, but are both feeling pretty good. It certainly doesn't seem as hot as last year, but I'm feeling some interesting pains in my back from running downhill. Have the first of several conversations with my various body parts to keep running even though they're not happy (first conversation is with my back, which seems to be spasming around mile four. I tell it to calm the heck down...we've got a way to go)
  • 10K split is 1:07...about 5 minutes faster than last year. Betty and I give thumbs up to the photographer as we pass. Feeling pretty good because I realize I'm doing better than last year, but I'm a little worried about my fast (for me) start, and the downhill run pounding, and as we pass another down-runner, my sense of anxiety about the heat rises. She is just passed out cold and those assisting her are just pouring water over her. She's lifeless. It freaks me out a little.
  • Getting to the water station at 6.5 feels like an exercise in endurance, sun is in our faces, and I'm pretty much swearing the whole way at the AFC planners. People all around me are saying things like: "where the hell is it." I know it's around a curve on Harbor Island and I feel like I just stumble into it blindly. Down a cup of water. The energy drink they offer is vile, but I drink part of it anyway...I down a second Gu.
  • Am mometarily distracted by a girl running barefoot! Did I mention it was HOT. We're running on ASPHALT. I comment to a random person running next to me that I'd just need more arch support than THAT. She agrees. Barefoot girl get's lots of attention as she passes people (she is running fast).
  • Water station at mile 8 includes a "rain forest" and is heaven. Not facing sun, but a sudden cramp in my hammy causes me to stop and stretch a bit.
  • Run through RENTAL CAR RETURN LOT is once again HELL due to the fact that we are once again running into the sun, the sun is reflecting off of all those car windshields, and the pavement is sort of like running over cobblestone, only less even...and I just HIT THE warning...sort of similar to the marathon wall when my legs just STOPPED. Even though I hadn't planned on taking another GU until about the 10.5 mile water station, I need to do something...I THOUGHT I still had one more...then discovered I didn't...ah shit, I must have dropped it... Once again, I am thirsty (they say if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated...) and dizzy. I start to wonder how much of my dehydration is just in my head and how much of it is real. I don't want to end up like those who I've seen passed out on the side of the road.
  • Gu seems to work (it is a miracle, isn't it?) and I start running again with Betty. She was doing great and passed me right up as we headed into downtown San Diego...only the sight of her neon green shirt keeps me going...but I stop to walk one more time around mile 10. I get passed by a woman wearing a full length jilbab. Am amazed.
  • Finally...downtown San Diego. The last water station and another rain forest. What I forgot is that, now I'm going to be running between tall buildings in the shade...soaking wet...but at least now I'm cool, so I start to feel much better.
  • The final hill starts on Ash street and then continues as we turning onto 6th. My goal all along has been to run the hill. I realize that if I walk, I will be in danger of not making a PR and of being slower than I was last year...which I would hate. So I put my head down...and RUN the G.D. F-ing Hill.
  • Wait...there's an extra water station at mile 12...if they can put an extra water station at 12 miles, why can't they have one at 5 and 9? Geez.
  • Make it to the top of the hill...and barely have anything left for the last 1/2 mile. Luckily, the last 1/4 mile is again downhill. I do my version of a sprint (Drama Girl said it didn't look like sprinting to her!) and finish strong. I was completely happy to have my family there to greet me at the end of the race. DramaGirl and Turbo even (seemingly happily) gave their hot, sweaty mama an after-race hug (DramaGirl would offered Betty a tentative high-five). She even took this fabu after race close-up...

Here are the stats
2:38:57 (4 minutes faster than last year)
1:07:48 (10K split - 5 minutes faster than last year)
12:08 min mile (yuk)

Here's what I learned
I continue to learn that whatever I train for is what I can do. I trained for hills; I ran the hills strongly. I did not train for heat and humidity (as a matter of fact, Betty and I avoided running in the heat at all costs, including my very, very, very valuable sleep time), thus it was the heat and humidity that did me in...sigh...

But all is not lost. There's a 4K race this weekend on used to be called the Moondoggies run, but now it's called the "End of Summer Fire Run." SouthbayGirl says she might come down! Let me know. We'll figure out a place to meet up. It's a pretty small'll be no trouble finding each other. We'll be the ones wearing neon-lime green.


  1. First comment, boy, I AM obnoxious!

    YAY!! Way to persevere through the heat and poor planning on AFC's part. AND a PR to boot!!

    Rock on, heffer, rock on!!

    BTW, I don't accept any of your excuses. Next time. Race report on race day ;o)

  2. CONGRATS!!! WHOOO HOOOOO You did awesome!

    And any blog that has the terms "deep" or "penetrate" in it gets 2 thumbs up from me :P HHAHAHAHAAAA

  3. I cannot tell you how much I love reading your blog, it cracks me up everytime. Man that beer Betty is holding looks delicious.

    Congrats at the great race stats, dehydration or not you beat your best time and that is something to be proud of.

    We did have a similar heat situation last year at the Disneyland Half, I did not cool down for 3 days after.

    Thanks for the report and good luck in your new job!

  4. Great Blog report Alice! I didn't realize you were out of Gu's - I could have hooked you up! We did great - but gosh it was hot! I have to say that of all the people we passed getting assistance on the road - I was always thinking it would be one of us. I think the water stations is key!!!

    I'm grateful for you hosting the post-race party! Swimming afterwards (that's what I call laying on a tube treading water) was really therapeutic!

    What's next?

  5. Good job on the race, race report and packing beer for the 10am finish!! Love IT!!

  6. well done! a beer is a must after those conditions.
    congrats on the new job! so at first day of classes will refer to your syallabi "sillybus" with a foreing accent?

  7. I was wondering how you did!

    Great job and congrats on the PR!

    Heat and humidity are always a killer - way to go!

  8. WOW - that was QUITE a report! Sounds like a crazy hard race but you had a wonderful time! Next time - Get. Out. In. The. Heat!


  9. Great job on the race!
    I love that you have a "lessons learned".

    Oh, and 10am is never too early for beer, especially when it's after a race.

  10. I'm so proud of you and inspired by you!!!!!

  11. Well, well, well...or should I say 'Holy COW!" Great job. We were driving in the other direction to get to the airport and even I could tell with the A/C on that it was hot out there.

    The AFC is outrageously expensive for a half marathon and this is the second or third year I've heard they lack enough water stations.

  12. Thanks for not shafting us on a report and yourself. It is always great to see where you have come from when you going. OK that sounded totally philosophical in my mind. You did awesome with the rough weather and hills!

    Good luck with the new job and college level even thoughby Jess's at 21 days I swear college and high school peeps are still two of the same in behavior. LOL!

    Love the heffer header...suahweet!

  13. Umm..."I continue to learn that whatever I train for is what I can do." Sounds like a tri is in your future!!

  14. Ahhh loved it. I especially loved the beer before 10am. Last time I did that was a half mary also!! It's the best. I'm also known to have that same crack addiction (chex mix). Nice work. I would kill for a 2:38. :D

  15. It looks like it was warmer than it was last year!

    (BTW, while on vacation, I actually said to my husband "you know, the AFC Half is today." )

    Congratulations on doing so well this year!

  16. Great Job on the race! I am totally laughing at "medicinal beer". That is soemthing I would do!

  17. Do not underestimate my ability to lose office/school supplies. I don't think there are enough pens in Costco to cover what I've lost.

    Also, I'm linking your blog.

  18. So glad you got through that with no issues! Sounds like people were really struglling.

    I think your report was totally worth waiting for!!

  19. Hey thanks for commenting on my blog. I just added you to my blog reader so I can follow along. I think I saw you and your friends at the AFC half. I saw those bright shirts and thought "what a great idea!" because I know its hard for people to find you from the sidelines when they are trying to cheer you on. Congrats on beating the heat. You are right. They definitely needed more water stations after mile 7.