Something different…

Going into this weekend, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, until about 5am this morning when I woke up and decided to do the PV Half Marathon.  My other option was heading up to the Santa Monicas to run with Bill and Diana along the VC course, or to Vail Lake for the Xterra (thought about the duathlon).  If I didn’t race, I could’ve even taken care of some trail maintenance work that I still have to do for this year.  I think the deciding factor though, was driving distance, since recently, I’ve been putting on at least 100 miles/day for work, so I chose the closest thing to my house, which was the PV race.  I was initially going to do the full marathon, but felt that it would be a bit too much before OD in a couple weeks, so went with the half, a distance I haven’t raced in quite some time.  I also haven’t been able to race PV at all since the last couple years conflicted with MMT, so was glad to do it again, since it’s one of my favorite courses — scenic and hilly, not to mention in my backyard.  Also, it’s the second oldest marathon next to Boston, and even with over a thousand runners (the half is the largest), it still feels like a low-key event.

Full marathoners started at 7, the half at 7:30, then the 5k at 8.  I knew the course well — relatively flat until mile 2, where there is a very steep climb up to PV Dr, then we head north through Portuguese Bend on some rollers, with an overall downhill, then turn-around and head back.  Most of the route is along the coast, and in fact, the only other races I can think of that are similar would be Big Sur and Honolulu.  Those who have done any of those know that there’s a price to pay for the scenery — it usually comes in the form of hills.  Big Sur has Hurricane Point, and Honolulu has Diamond Head — same for the mile 2 climb in PV.

For much of the first half, I was running with the 4th and 5th place women, then just before the turn-around I passed them.  I didn’t have a watch, but I believe my half-way split was 46 minutes and change.  At that point, I was about 100 ft behind the 3rd place woman, but wasn’t able to overtake her, coming as close as a few feet near the bottom of the hill at mile 11.  When we turned the corner to head towards the finish a couple miles out, I looked behind, and didn’t see anyone approaching.  I knew though, that the 4th and 5th place women couldn’t be too far back based on where they were relative to me at the turn-around — I figured it was a matter of time before they’d catch me.

Right when I got to the last aid station, the girl in front of me stopped to look back, and so did I — we both saw that Alison (4th place woman) was coming up fast.  Then instantly, everyone, including me, took off in more or less an all out sprint — well, at least that’s what it felt like.  Alison eventually caught up to me, but we were still about 40 feet or so behind the 3rd place female.  When she was next to me, I said, “go get her, she’s slowing down”.  Alison and I ran stride for stride for a while, until we were about a quarter mile out, then she turned on the after-burners, right as the girl in front turned back to see where we were.

At the top of the hill about 100 yards from the finish, they both began sprinting, but Alison managed to catch her at the very last moment, coming in just ahead of the other girl.  Wow…what an awesome race that was, and a spectacular performance by Alison who made up some significant time over the last 2 miles.

When I congratulated her afterwards, Alison mentioned that when she caught up to me, she was going to ask me to help her catch the other girl, but she didn’t, thinking that she wouldn’t  have enough.  Well…it was good she didn’t, because it turned out that I was the one who ran out of gas instead. 

My finishing time was 1:34:01, my second fastest half-marathon time, missing my PR by only 14 seconds.  Considering this was a hilly course, I’m definitely happy with my performance.  Most of all though, I needed a mental boost before going into OD after my horrible experience at the PCT50 last weekend.

So after I was done, I stuck around to watch some of the marathoners come through.  First place guy came in at about 2:41, the first female came across in 3:13.  Also, I was very surprised to see Eric Clifton, who crossed the finish in 2:57, good for 8th overall.  Not too shabby for an ultra trail guy.  That makes it 4 races in a row where I’ve seen him — SJT50K, Leona, PCT50, and now PV.

Ok, so next weekend is the Mt Wilson Trail Race, then our little Memorial Day fun run Monday, and finally, Old Dominion the following weekend.  I haven’t started feeling nervous yet…but just give me a few more days.

Full marathon results here.
Half marathon results here.
5k results here.

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