Livermore Grape Stomp Half Marathon Recap

OK, let's do this race recap for real.

  • Overall: 13th place of 328.
  • Women: 2nd place of 180.
  • Age Group, women 20-29: 1st place of 41.
  • Official Chip Time: 1:28:35

Accidentally trippy picture of the start

Before the Race

I woke up at 6:34 after a splendid night consisting of thoughtful neighbors smoking and talking about realllly important stuff right outside our apartment window between 1:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m.

I wasn't hungry at all, but I ate 5 caffeinated Gu chomps (we didn't have coffee on hand and I needed caffeine know why.  Wait maybe you don't.  It was so I would quickly empty my bowels).

I had a few swigs of cherry juice as well, and then pocketed 6 dates for the road/race.  We left the house at 7:00, and arrived at Robertson Park in Livermore at 7:35.

I used the park bathroom instead of a port-o-potty, which was awesome because the line of 20 girls for one stall all got to stand inside the hut and listen to the one person use the restroom.  Super conducive to a good bowel movement.

The start area

I left those parameters and headed towards the starting area with about 8 minutes til 8:00 a.m.  It was surprisingly chilly (about 52 degrees).  Sesa spotted me, and I had been looking forward to meeting her that morning so I was truly excited to have a brief chat.  She is beautiful (and forever 21...lucky genes) and her blog-voice is refreshingly funny and candid.  And she had a heckuva good race yesterday. 

I snuck up to the front of the chute.  For like the third time this year, I had the impression that I would be in the top 3 women based on the stats from the year prior -- which showed the 2010 1st place female at about 1:30.  But then, also for like the third time this year, apparently several other woman looked at last years stats and saw they could win the thing, so they showed up too.  Get outta my non-elite races, you fast girls!

(Just kidding.  1st or 2nd place woman really means nothing to me.  I just care about my performance.  For real).

During The Race

So we started.  And for some reason I was crazy relaxed.  Too relaxed.  I usually shoot out and get a really fast first mile...but I was just like "whatevs, I'll relax now and run fast later."  My first mile was indeed slower than my first mile has been in a while for a half marathon.

non-blurry version of the same pic

Mile 1: 6:29

We were running on a bike path.  It was brisk out, but not too cold.   I was running in a pack of dudes, and they were all running like asswads.  There were some serious fights over who got to hug the curves, some were cutting the curves, and all were getting wayyyy way too close for comfort to me in order to draft or whatever these stupid idiots do.  Cummon, I'm running a 6:29 mile here! Not elite! Stop drafting like you're important.

One woman was clearly up ahead, and I recognized her as the woman who placed behind me in See Jane Run -- with her pace today, she had been training hard!  I wasn't even considering trying to catch her (note: she went on to finish exactly 2 minutes ahead of me.  I should have tried to catch her.) 

Not something I thought I would say, but I regret not going out faster, where it was flat and downhill -- should have banked an extra minute on the first 3 miles.   I think that method has worked for me in the past.  But I'm glad I expiremented with going out a little more reserved.

Another woman was in my vicinity.  We kind of took turns passing each other for the first 7 miles, but I eventually lost her for good in the hills (read on), and finished 1 minute ahead of her.

Mile 2: 6:29
Mile 3: 6:26

We turned around at the halfway point for the 10kers, and started running against the half-marathoners who hadn't hit the turn-around yet.  The bike path was pretty narrow, but this turned out to not be a huge problem because the other halfers were generally good about leaving a little bit of space for us.

I was a little concerned after the turn-around, because I knew we would be going gently uphill for the rest of the race until about mile 7, where we would hit "a hill" (this turned out to be a good rough trio of hills).   Heading into the race, I didn't think this slight incline would cause me any trouble.

Turns out, it did.  I could feel myself slowing down, despite the fact that I still felt plenty energetic.  I guess I can't hit "half-marathon pace" unless I am running flat, or downhill.  That's a weakness for sure.

Mile 4: 6:35
Mile 5: 7:00

I forgot to mention this in a previous post.  One week before this race, I tried on a couple of Brooks shoes and settled on the Launch.  I wore them 3 times before the race; twice on the treadmill, once outside for 3 miles.  I thought they were fab.

I'm not sure what I think of them anymore....but I'm pretty certain I will not wear them for CIM.  Around mile 4, there was some pain that I can't recall perfectly, but it was in the ankle-to-calve area of my right leg.  Something was feeling off about the shoes.  I was regretting wearing them.

I ate a date around Mile 5, thinking maybe it would magically make me go faster.  I came quickly to terms with the fact that I was running as fast as I could (was I? I have no idea) on an incline, and just hoped I could make up for the time during some flats or declines.

Also, by Mile 5 I was (as predicted) in no-mans-land.  There was a guy in front of me that I didn't want to let out of my sight, because I was afraid of making a wrong turn.   The 3rd place girl was also somewhere near me.  Most of the race was indeed pretty lonely, except for the parts where we turned around and passed the other half-marathoners.  Despite the solitude, I still was mentally inspired to do well, so I can't say that harmed me as much as it has in the past.

There were no cheerleaders except for the volunteers at water spots, and the energy of spectators is always slightly related to my energy level.  So that is what it is.

Gentleman caught me at mile 6

Mile 6: 7:03
Mile 7: 7:05

More gentle incline, heading out from the bike path and towards vineyards.

The volunteers were so awesome, and this is why: these guys who were SO INVESTED in making sure I got a water cup successfully with minimal spill.  They would start handing it to you, then kind of stride with you for a few seconds to make sure you were good to go.  The Gentleman had been camped out near one of these stations, and said he had seen a lot of the very front-runners bail on a water attempt -- so I think the volunteers quickly stepped up their game.  It was really sweet.

Look how awesome this guy is -- getting ready for me

He is so ON!

I ate a second date around mile 7-8, and was sad to realize I only had one date left (I had eaten 2 about 10 minutes before the race started).  I never ended up eating that third one, so no big deal. 

I think dates are great race fuel.  Absolutely no stomach issues -- dates are cramp free!  They are easy to eat and swallow while running, and didn't leave me thirsty. 

I'm not sure that I need any food during a half, and I can't say if it helped or not...but I'm glad I practiced, and I feel confident that eating a date every 3 miles or so during a full marathon should be fine.

Mile 8: 7:05
Mile 9: 7:00

Dammit hills, go away!! You are stealing precious seconds from me!

I actually don't mind hills at all.  They don't fatigue me much and I love the neighborhoods and views that they reward you with on the average run.  And I did catch the woman who was vying for 2nd place woman and left her behind for good during the hills.  But the fact is, I am SLOW at hills.  compared to my flat speed, I am signifacantly slower.  My 6:30 pace turns into a 7:30 pace.

It was lonely out here in the vineyards, and I really wanted to hit the turnaround.  I felt like we kept going further and further out to the middle of nowhere....let's just turn around now.  Please.

I should also note: no visible mile markers anywhere on the course.  I think I saw a small "12" written in chalk near the 12th mile point.  I was purely relying on my Garmin and hoping it was aligned with the race director's miles.

Mile 10: 7:02
Mile 11: 6:45

Mile 10 provided the beautiful gift of a turnaround.  I caught sight of the woman in front of me, about 1-to-2 minutes ahead.  I was dreaming happily of all the downhills that would be in my future.

And there were some, and they were FUN! I was flying down them.  Buuut, we also hit a few of the backside of hills we had previously run down, so I wasn't gaining as much time as I hoped for mile 10 and 11.

Mile 12: 6:37
Mile 13: 6:39
Last bit 0.05: 0:21

I don't ever remember having this much energy for the last two miles.  I tried to kick it.  I reminded myself that I can do ANYTHING for just 2 miles.
Nearing the end

It felt good to have strength at mile 12.  I zipped through that mile, nearing closer and closer to the sounds of the finish line, where 5kers and 10kers (who I think started a 1/2 hour after us) were flooding in.

Which of course meant that when we joined the path of the 5k/10k with about 1/3 of a mile til the finish, my final kick/sprint got kind of messy.

I glanced at my watch, and thought there was some minor chance that if I ran hard enough for the last 2 minutes I could eke out a PR.  Running "hard enough" turned out to be a challenge in the glob of runners.

I'm on the right.  Not too bad here -- the trail is still fairly wide.

You know the drill; bobbing, weaving, pulling out all my Tom Cruise stunt moves to try and sprint to the finish.  There were a bunch of kids running the 5k, which made it harder to grunt "outta my way suckas!!!". 

Luckily, this often-present race issue was for a relatively brief stretch.  And then I was finished. 

After the Race

I walked in a daze past the medals and water, and felt someone grab my anklet-chip.   Then I snapped out of my daze and sought some water.

I approached the 1st place woman and gave her some props.  I mentioned noticing that my Garmin read a little short -- 13.05 miles.  She checked her iphone (Nike + app?) and said she recorded 13.1 miles.  I think my garmin lost a few meters here and there when we went under overpasses while on the bike route. 

I got out of there before waiting for awards, noticing there were no freebies besides 5-hour energy drinks.  I'm now on a mission to get whatever goodies 1st place in age group/2nd place woman might have earned.

I liked this race.  I wish it had been an easier course so I could get some stronger affirmation that my recent speed workouts have been paying off.  I wish I could run one more half before CIM....maybe?

Thanks for listening.