Monday, November 5, 2012

US Half-Marathon Race Report

I got some nice feedback and advice before the race, and after reading them, I decided to just stop thinking about the race until race day: goals, pacing, outcomes, strategy, all of it. Thanks for taking the time to send advice and thoughts.

I arrived to the race site and I realized that I had forgotten to bring gels, boy, am I out of practice. I actually thought I might be able to do the race without any gels, I'm so glad I didn't go with that thought, as you'll understand further down the race report. I explored the nearby Safeway and to my luck, not only did they have gels, but they carried Clifbar gels!

It was a freakin' BEAUTIFUL day for a race, in one of the most beautiful city in the world! There was no fog, clear blue skies, and the temperature was in the low NOVEMBER! Gotta love CALI and its Indian Summer!

The first 6 miles were pretty schizophrenic with me vacillating between being conservative and backing off, and trying to race with the pack. Thus, I kept dropping back, and then coming back onto the group. As I was running out on the Golden Gate Bridge, I made a decision to race, knowing well that I was running a bit faster than my fitness. At mile 9, I felt my calves twitch, uh oh. I looked at my Garmin to check in and saw 6:20 pace, right on, my dream pace for this race. At mile 10, I took a salt tablet and my second gel (Did I really think I could do the race without any gels?), and hoped the nutrition would kick in for the remaining miles. Both calves cramped at mile 10.5, and I changed my gait to take the pressure off the calves and relieve the cramps. From then on, it was crisis management mode with deep breathing, a heel striking gait to relieve the cramped calves, and waiting, and praying for the nutrition to kick in.

I wanted so badly to hold onto the 6:20 pace and the resulting 1:23 finish time. This would be a near 2-minute PR on this course from four years ago, and proof that at 41 years-old, I still had it. But the nutrition never kicked in and the calves never loosened up, and I watched the group I was running with for the last 10+ miles pull away. I was no longer racing, but instead, surviving, and trying to diminish my losses. I told myself to keep running, no matter how ugly and awkward it looked, and that walking would be a sure way to bring down that 6:20 average. I looked down at the watch with two miles to go, and saw 6:24 pace change to 6:25. Two things struck me during those final two miles: how I managed to keep running (well, more like a fast hobble) with two cramped calves, and how nobody was coming up from behind. I finally got passed in the last mile dropping me from first in the 40-49 age-group to second. I wanted to suffer in this race, and that I did. My finish was a bit embarrassing but I got some redemption, when the announcer recognized my name and said, "Kiet Tran just finished and now he's going to swim 2.4 miles and ride 112 miles." I made sure to milk that. I finished in 1:25:19, averaging 6:31s, jut 30 seconds off my time from four years ago. I spent today looking for another half-marathon in the next two weeks, this race left me thirsty.


Beth said...

Love it! Darn it with those cramping calves though. The more I see how bad cramping can be, the more thankful I am that I almost NEVER cramp. Anyway - way to work through it Kiet and still run an awesome time! Can't wait to hear about the next one! ;)

Libby said...

YES!!! love love love it. you pushed it hurt and I still think the fitness is there, you got this! you drilled it and suffered. so very proud of you. most importantly, you found the positive mental place because you're hungry for more. good on ya. glad we left some florida weather!

Steve said...

Congrats Kiet. Sucks about cramps. Sounds like you are pretty fast for you though, so that is good.

Hopefully you can find another half.

Kim said...

Sorry about the cramps but man 1:23 is smoking! I'd love to do that!! Nice work kid :) I'm finally catching up on the all blogging I missed while I was all training / working like a mad women!