I ran the Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon on March 17, 2013.
My original St. Patrick’s Day race was the Badger Cove Half Marathon, put on by Brazen Racing. I registered for it before seeing an elevation map, which was a mistake. Brazen is known for their trail runs, so I should have known! It was 1,800 of elevation changes. Wha-what?
I knew I didn’t have the training to do this kind of course, so I chickened out of it. I looked for a different race to run because given my race calendar for the year, I was not going to start out injured and knew that could very well happen on a trail course.
So after looking around, I found the Go Green Half. The majority of it would be run on my favorite running trail in Los Gatos, the medal had a built-in bottle opener, and I had to redeem myself after my craptastic run at the Hellyer Half Marathon (recap to be posted).
At bib pick-up, we got a green bag AND a 22 oz of beer. How awesome is that?!
I got to the race an hour before it was set to start. Aside from getting a fantastic parking spot, there was no benefit to getting there that early. It wasn’t busy, and even 15 minutes before the start time, porta potties lines were non-existent (bonus).
The crowd for this one was small, which is typical for a small-town race. There were no corrals, so we all self placed based on how fast we were going to run. I just wanted to be in front of the people with strollers, because once we were on the trail, it would be hard to pass them.
There was no pretense, and promptly at 7am, the race started. Everyone took off fast, as is typical. I hung back, but it was tough to not go out fast since we were running down a steepish hill. These are nearly as painful as going uphill in the beginning. How about a flat start? 🙂
We ran through the Vasona Park parking lot and then headed up a hill and out of the park on to a city street. I liked this part of the run because it was tree-lined, peaceful, cool, and we got a great view of Vasona Lake. Beautiful.
I had a hard time finding a comfortable pace. I kept speeding up and slowing down. I had to keep telling myself to run my own race, to not try to keep up with others. My competitive nature constantly gets the best of me, I tell you.
We ran on city streets and through some business parks. I didn’t mind this part, but it was kind of boring with nothing to see. After 5 miles or so, we were directed back onto the Los Gatos Creek Trail. We took some trail loops that I didn’t even know existed and I’ve run this trail a ton! (I used to live a mile from this trail, so would run here 3 – 4 times a week for several years).
By mile 7, I was tired. I had only run a few 12+ mile distances since getting back to running after having C, so hadn’t built up my endurance as strongly as I had wanted. I drank a ton of Gatorade, and this helped a bit.
We finally started heading back to Vasona Park. I love this part of the trail. It’s a gradual incline, but not really noticeable (until you start running in the opposite direction). It’s also heavily shaded, which is nice when it’s warmer outside.
At about the 11 mile mark, I started trying to amp up the intensity. I started passing people left and right. My pace kept increasing and it felt amazing to push myself like that.
As I rounded the final corner leading to the finish line, I realized that there were orange traffic cones going up a hill. We were to veer off the trail and run straight up this hill before we could cross the finish line. Ahh!
I ran as fast as I could up that hill, then sprinted the short distance to the finish line. I immediately looked down at my watch and knew I was close to my standing PR set at San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon in 2011), but couldn’t remember it’s exact number at the time.
My finish time was 1:56:28. This was only 20 seconds slower than my existing PR! 20 seconds! Had I known there was that hill at the end, I totally would have started running faster earlier. But it was a great race and I can’t complain about my performance!