So…I lied. I said that the Holiday Half Marathon earlier in the month would be my last race of the year. And typically it is. I mean I crushed Holiday Half with a strong 1:53 half marathon PR! But oddly, I felt like I wasn’t done this year. I wanted another race. I felt it on my spirit pretty heavy. And then, the Operation Jack Half Marathon ad came across one of my timelines. What is so interesting and cool about Operation Jack is that it supports the Autism awareness. The mission of Operation Jack is to encourage parents, relatives and friends of those struggling with autism to find a positive outlet by leading an active lifestyle that promotes awareness and raises funds for autism-related charities. Isn’t that great? So naturally, I signed up and toed the line with my fancy new Garmin Fenix 3!
I arrived at Dockweiler State Beach (which is two miles past Los Angeles International Airport) and parked my truck. We experienced some really cold high winds this weekend, so as you could imagine, I wasn’t in the biggest rush to get out of the truck…seat warmers are the best invention ever.
Once I ran to the registration table and grabbed my bib, I went back to my truck to stay warm. I saw absolutely no reason to stand outside and shiver and shake. Doing that actually burns calories I need to race…and it’s just damn uncomfortable. So, in the truck I sat and enjoyed watching the sun come up and the sky transform and display her brilliant colors. So inspiring.
I couldn’t hide forever, it was time to get to work. I walked to the start area and immediately ran into my friend Richard! We talked about the crazy weather and about how much fun running in the chilly wind was going to be. Lucky for us it subsided once we started. And away we went.
I really was out here to have a good time today. Since my goal for winter training is to get WICKED fast, that required dropping some serious mileage. More than I ever have. This weekend was another high mileage weekend so doing it at race pace felt really great. Operation Jack runs along the bike path of the beach and is an out and back. So it really is amazing for training. Friends of mine use this path all the time to train. I saw lots of friends on the course. One amazing reason why local races rock. It really is the sense of community that matters. I felt strong. I felt like I was cruising at a normal pace. I didn’t want to push too hard but I certainly wanted to push myself. I felt myself start to fatigue around mile 9. More than half way through the race. When that happens, I just draw inspiration from the ocean and my surroundings. One foot in front of the other. I see that shiny Boston PR I want like a golden carrot dangling in front of my face. That is enough to keep my legs moving for sure!
As I struggled through the last mile…really because I was just tired and was ready for pancakes…I looked at my watch and saw how close I was to a sub 2 race. I want and need sub 2 to become my new normal. After a strong 1:53 on a very challenging course a couple weeks ago…I know I am capable. So I RAN! I put my head down cranked up the tunes and got there! Seconds to spare but I did it.
This is a great race for a great cause. I couldn’t complain the conditions were fantastic. Saw a lot of friends. And I got my miles in. If you want to establish a new normal, you have to work hard for it. Without the hard work, you will either regress or stay stagnant. And who has time for that. Not a bad way to end the 2015 race year…and certainly not a bad way to kick off my winter training. Boom!