Monterey Bay Half Marathon 2017

In Running, Race Report, Travel

Chip Time: 1:25:53 (6:33 min/mile)
Overall 91/6960. M25-29 13/342.
Men 68/2604. Bib #582.

# A New Personal Best.

I beat my previous PR by 47 seconds today, beating a PR I set at Humboldt just last month. I’ve not been feeling well recently, and my training has suffered. I’m still pleasantly shocked that I did as well as I did!

There was a PR bell in the middle of the finisher area portola. When I saw it last night, I mused about ringing it today, but promptly dropped the idea. It was surreal to reach out, grab the rope and hear its ring today. I wonder when the next time I’ll hear a similar ring?

# The 15th Presentation of the Monterey Bay Half Marathon.

The course was beautiful, and inspiring. Much like at Humboldt last month, I felt like I was again flying in a living painting. Much of the course was along a small cliff right above the shoreline. The pitter-patter of footfalls and the rythmic sigh of my breath were mixed with waves crashing against the rocks and sea lions honking. I couldn’t feel more lucky.

After the race, I told Dave, my friend, host, and running buddy, that I was eager to see my (mile) splits. I had felt trouble as Mile 9 approached. Both my cardio and legs had started to give. A voice in my head nagged me to quit. I just knew I’d find a slow mile around Mile 8 or 9.

But I didn’t. In fact, my slowest grade-adjusted mile was 6:33; my fastest was 6:22. My second-by-second pace record shows an astonishingly steady pace.

What happened? I’m still not sure. All I know is that while my mind was dealing with warnings from my body, I was also “distracted” by what I was seeing and hearing around me. I remember feeling those coveted, addictive, fleeting moments of stillness in motion.

On the race’s organization — it was top-notch. There’s not much I can fault this race for, and much to praise. There weren’t too many people (with about 6000 half-marathoners), yet there was enough energy for a big-race atmosphere. The expo was interesting. Getting to the race was fast. Gear check (both in and out) was smooth. Getting into the corrals was maybe too easy (honor system). There were tons of porta-potties (though they could’ve had more signs!). And on-course entertainment and support was among the best for a relatively local race. It was awesome to see so many locals and families come out to cheer. I’ve never heard my name called out so many times in a race (I liked how big our names were printed on our bibs).

Special kudos to the dancing dinosaur in the tunnel, the pianist playing Bohemian Rhapsody, the Flintstone Family in costume, and the bagpipe player. The bagpipe sound can really travel far!

# Experiments.

The golden rule of racing is not to never do something in a race that you haven’t practiced in training. I usually follow this rule. At the same time, I apparently like disregarding “rules” of running. So, what were my experiments this time?

1. New shoes! Hahahaha. This was the first time I’ve run in dedicated racing shoes since high school. Literally the first time; before today, I’ve only run a mile in these shoes… on a treadmill. They’re lighter and minimalist (the way I like my shoes), but they also made my feet ache after about 9 miles. If anything, this change might literally be the major reason why I PR’ed today.

2. No ibuprofen. Haha. I never ever take ibuprofen, except before races. Except for today. So this change actually fits the golden rule.

3. Earlier fueling. I decided to eat/swallow my first Gu block at Mile 1, another at Mile 2, and packets at Miles 5 and 9. Why Mile 1? Because I forgot to eat my Gu blocks before the race! I was so frantic in squeezing in a warmup mile that I only realized I had forgotten when I wondered why my right pocket was heavy. No idea what kind of impact this had on my race, but I think this was a screw-up. The Gu packet at Mile 5 definitely helped, on the other hand.

4. My lucky old shirt!!! Dave guilted me into not wearing the race shirt during the race. Yes! I know there’s a stigma — and superstition — attached to doing it. I’ve done it forever, though (when I’m not wearing a team shirt). Ultimately, it was the long sleeves on the race shirt that decided it for me. Boo.

# Monterey.

This was my first time visiting Monterey, a city by the bay “just” two hours south of SF. I spent only a night and a morning there, but I really liked it! I was extremely lucky Dave was willing to host me and show me around.

# The Next One.

Incidentally, I’ll be running another half next week. My “hometown” race: the Berkeley Half! Then it’ll be Thanksgiving and the California International Marathon (CIM). The Berkeley Half next week is special, and I’ll mention why in my race writeup next week. As for CIM, I’m still terrified. I’ll also mention why another time… For now, I’m going to go cook something to celebrate.

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