We headed down to Southern California for Spring Break this year, staying in Carlsbad and planning to bike and swim a bit while we were down there. On our first day in Encinitas, I saw a flyer for the Encinitas Half Marathon the next week and decided to sign up. I hadn’t run more than 8 miles since CIM in December but I had been training with the team 2-3 times a week doing speed work, hills, and sometimes the store run so I figured I’d give it a shot.
When I started training again for a marathon last year, I’ve had the idea of a sub 3 hr marathon in the back of my head so I thought a good test for me would be to see if I could hold that pace for a half marathon.
The race was on Sunday and started at one of my favorite beaches, Moonlight Beach. I thought parking was going to be crazy and didn’t arrive as early as I wanted but I ended up finding a spot in a grocery store lot about half mile from the start, which gave me a nice warmup. I met a guy on the way over to the race with a huge backpack who had the job of putting race flyers for another upcoming race on everyone’s windshield. I’ve been annoyed by those flyers on my car before and with all the stuff that you get in a goodie bag in general but it makes sense from a marketing perspective to target people who are already running a race if you are putting on your own race.
There were 4 starting waves and I jumped in the first one, which was designated for people finishing under 1:40. They had pace groups so I started with the 1:30 pace group. At CIM I had started with the 3:30 pace group and ended up passing them and getting all the way up with the 3:20 pace group early in the race only to have the 3:20, 3:25, 3:30, 3:35, and 3:40 groups all pass by me in the last few miles. So this time I told myself I was not going to get ahead of the group. I thought finishing in under 1:30 for me was a long shot anyway.
The race started fast with a steep 0.1 mile downhill but I stayed with the 1:30 group, ticking off the first few miles just under 6:50. After 3 miles I could tell the pace was probably a little harder than I’d be able to maintain for the entire race and by mile 5 the group pulled away and the goal changed to just keeping them in sight as long as possible. After falling off of that pace even running at an 8 min pace seemed hard and just walking the rest or pulling out was really tempting. But I pushed through the next mile and found that, while it hurt a bit, I could probably hold 7:10-7:20 pace.
The course was billed as flat but the second half was mostly very gradual up or down. It was beautiful running along the coast with a view of the ocean and near perfect running weather. It would have been too hot later in the race but it stayed overcast for the whole race.
I kept the bright orange sign of the 1:30 group in sight until about mile 10 continuing to lose 20-30 seconds per mile and ended up holding my pace pretty well for the rest of the race. A few runner would slowly catch me and I’d try to stay with them as long as possible. One guy passed me around mile 12 just wearing sandals. And as we came into the finishing chute with about 200 m to go, a guy running next to me decides to make it a sprint. So I finished with a long sprint. I think he beat me by a hair.
I finished in 1:32:38. Race Results
My next race is in a few weeks at the Garmin Half Marathon in Kansas. I’m traveling there for a Garmin Developer conference and they give us free entry into the race with the conference.
After the race I followed the time honored tradition of walking around an amusement park the next day. I took the boys to Legoland (with a backpack full of Nature’s Bakery bars)
My Altra Torin NYC shoes were awesome for the race. They fit great and I think I’d have a hard time going back to a shoe without a wide toe box again.