Sunday, December 7, 2014

North Face Endurance Half Marathon

Wow!  I have not blogged in a long time!  No way I can go back and catch up, so we are just going to start with today.

Pete and I did the North Face Endurance Race today, in the Marin Headlands.  It has been close to 2 years since I have run more than 10 miles.  I spent a good portion of the last 21 months battling one injury after another.  I have been in a pretty good place the last few months, but admittedly I have only been running twice a week, while doing Crossfit  4 days a week.  I knew this was a hilly race, so ran the IBM hill once a week (a 7 mile run for me) and a 10 mile run the other run day.  A few days before the race I looked up the elevation map and saw this:

Damn.  Hillier than I was expecting.  Nothing I could do about it that late.    This morning was a disaster.  Getting dressed and I could not find my flipbelt (which holds my phone, which I use for music, plus I wanted to take pictures.  4:30 this morning I was tearing the house apart.  No luck.  So I went to get my old arm band, but realized I had lent it to Joey to use.  I woke him up to find it (cruel, I know) but he could not.  Ugh!!  I could live without the music, but really wanted to be able to take pictures.  I decided I would just hold it in my hand.  I didn't want to carry two things so decided to skip the water bottle since there were 3 water stations on the route.

We made it on time and hung out before the race.

 It was foggy, which made it a bit warmer than usual.  Perfect running weather.

I went out at a nice reasonable pace.  People were passing me left and right, but I let them.  I had no trouble with the first enormous hill.  Never stopped and passed many people.  The down hill was a bit scary.  Thanks to near record rain fall in the last week the trails were wet, muddy, and down right trecherous.  People were flying by me.  I kept a decent pace though.

 Hill number 2 was the spirit breaker.  It kept going and going.  There were many turns, so I would think I was at the top, then I would turn a corner and see more.  Parts were so steep that almost everyone was walking, including me--my running pace wasn't any faster anyway!  A third of the way from the top I started with a horrendous side ache.  It hurt so bad I was envisioning my appendix exploding, and being stuck on this damn mountain without a way down.
 I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the top, thinking going down would be easier.  Nope.  It was steep, and the pounding was excruciating.  I tried breathing, walking, everything.  At the bottom there was an aid station so I stopped and drank a couple of cups of water/electrolytes, afraid it would make it worse, but was so thirsty I couldn't help myself.  Thankfully the side ache finally subsided, because hill #3 and #4 were nightmarish enough on their own.  I finally reached the top of the final hill, with the final water stop.  I literally stopped for a few minutes because I was once again so thirsty I was delerious (note to self- water bottle takes priority over the phone from now on)
I hit the final descent (which was about mile 10.75) relieved and ready to be done.  The down hill ended and then it was sort of flat for a bit.  Then I turned the corner and saw the slightest hill right before the finish (do you see that very tiny bump in the elevation map? Because I didn't.  And by that point in the race it felt like a mountain).  More than anything I wanted to walk, but had done so much walking on the hills I just couldn't.  Besides, who walks that close to the end?  I shuffled across the finish line, where Pete was waiting.  He grabbed me and helped keep me up.  He leaned over and said "I felt as bad as you are feeling right now.  You can't sit down.  Keep moving."  Hearing him say that helped more than you can imagine.  My time was 2 hr 29 minute.  As a comparison my PR on a flattish half marathon is 1 hr 51 minutes.  Pete rocked it at 1 hr 55 min (his PR for a flat is about 1 hr 29 min)

The finish area was great.  Good snacks (Pete brought me a cup filled with potato chips and skittles.  Best post run snack ever!)  There was a beer garden with Sierra Nevada, one free for every runner.  I actually don't like beer so Pete was happy to drink mine.

By far the most difficult race I have done.  But I want to do it again.  The views were amazing.  The pictures above don't do it justice.  It was a very nice, well run race.  And I know I can do better.  Pete says no way will he do the half again.  I bet he will change his mind though.

Thanks North Face!

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Wow, it YOU said it was hard, I bet it kicked a lot of people's butts. I wonder how many people don't finish.

I'm so happy for you that you were able to run that distance and those hills. I hope the stairs at home are not too bad post race.