Monday, April 7, 2008

The Great Race of Agoura Hills and the Not-So-Great Half Marathon Practice

Overcast and cool, but the clouds broke early enough for the annual Great Race of Agoura Hills in Malibu, CA. About 20 of us from TNT traveled up the 101 to take part in the Old Agoura 10K race.

If you recall, I ran this event last year. It's a hilly, mountainy, trail run along the horse community of Agoura Hills. The scenery is beautiful, if not steep. Last year I finished in 59 minutes, so I was excited to really race the course and see if I've improved.

After bidding my mentees and teammates fairwell at the start line, I set off to conquer the trail. Despite tight calves (that made me worry of the fiasco I had in Hawaii), I kept a brisk 8:30 mile pace for the first couple of miles. I picked it up during the second half of the race, hoping that the hills between miles 4-6.2 wouldn't slow me down. Turns out they didn't.

I finished with a new 10K PR: 51:26. It was amazing. I was excited to improve on last year's time by almost 8 minutes, and on my past PR time by about two minutes. I finished in the top 20% overall (222 out of 1235), and 6th out of 63 in my age group.

After reconnecting with my teammates, I took off for home. Once home, tired but happy, I hopped on the bike for what was planned to be an 8-10 mile ride. Something got the best of me out along my familair path (The LA River Bike Path along the 134 and 5 Freeways), and I suddenly had racked up 17 miles). Knowning that we had a 13 mile training run early the next morning, I rested for the remainder of the day.

Sunday: My legs are not happy. They are tired. Leaden. Cursing my bike ride. It's another overcast and cool day at the beach, but there is humidity in the air, and I'll start sweating sooner than I'd like. My quads are noticably sore - and that's not something that usually happens to me after runs. Those hills kicked my butt a little more than I expected.

About 5 miles into the run, just after we run back from being out on the Marina Del Rey Pier, I realize that this is going to be a real challenge. I can't imagine doing 8 more miles. At mile 7, I cringe at the idea that we have 6 more to go. Running up the Santa Monica pier is much easier than hill training and easier than the 10K hills ... but it still sucks some of the life out of me. By mile 9, we've been out along the course for about an hour and a half ... and there is still time to go.

I don't know how I got it done. I attribute it to my teammates, whose funny annecdotes and commiserating complaints help keep my legs moving. It's a hard run, it's one of those times when - despite having run this length many, many times - feels like it is the full marathon.

Slowly, surely and with the help of some Samoa girl scout cookies at the aid station, we make it back. I wince/stretch/wince/stretch my way through the cooldown. A soyjoy bar and some water, and it's time to go home. The rest of my day consisted of a walk to Trader Joe's (1.5 miles round trip) and watching Star Wars Ep 2: Attack of the Clones.

Tomorrow is the big day. No longer a 23 year old. Will be celebrating with a little birthday run. I'll post the lowdown later on.

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