Okay, so I realize this may not be the most motivating and inspiring post! But it’s REAL. We all have our amazing days, and not so great ones. This one lands in the “not so great ones.” BUT, it was still a great learning experience for me and I promised myself to grow from it.
The Day Before the Race
My group and I left Friday around 3:30pm that afternoon from the Bay Area, and we didn’t get to the runner’s campsite next to Bass Lake until 11pm that night! We missed the runner’s expo and couldn’t pick up our bibs on time. Bay Area traffic is just too much sometimes.
Since we arrived late, there was no check-in area that was open. We found a random spot to set up and quickly go to sleep. We had to be up at 3:30am because the shuttle to take us to the starting line was going to pick us up at 4am.
I had all my gear ready so that I wouldn’t have to rush in the morning, and so that I could sleep in as much as possible. I slept in my running clothes, had my handheld hydration bottle stashed with my energy gummies, phone & headphones charged, and breakfast ready to go.
My three friends shared a 3-person tent, and I decided to sleep in the car. I had never slept in a car overnight, so I didn’t think it would be a huge deal. Dumb decision. Turns out that it’s not that comfortable! I hardly slept.
The next thing I knew, it was 3am and I tried to sleep in as much as possible, but I couldn’t.
I GOT 3 HOURS OF SLEEP.
The Morning Of
My group quickly headed to the shuttle line at 4am where we ended up waiting an hour in the freezing cold for the shuttle to arrive. The Shuttle situation that morning was CRAZY. Turns out that 10 shuttle buses did not show up to transport runners! Hundreds of runners showed up late to the starting line. Our shuttle showed up just as Heat 1 was taking off at 6am. And that’s when frustration started creeping in.
Although we had time chips on our bibs, I began to get frustrated because I love running with my Heat. One of the benefits is that I can see the pacer. They’re usually the ones wearing bright neon shirts or have some type of sign with the goal time. Running with the pacer gives me that extra motivation that I need when I feel like giving up during a race. I also love being surrounded by other runners who have the same goal time as me! It’s like we’re all able to motivate each other, and I’m able to pace myself better. But, I couldn’t experience any of that. To make things worse, I had trained for 5 months and in the end only had 3 hours of sleep. My mind was not in the right place.
I quickly got off the bus, stripped myself of my warm layers, gear checked my bag, pinned my bib, used the bathroom, got a little prayer in with my group while I was stretching, and headed to the start line. I tried to calm myself down and remind myself to enjoy the run and make it a good experience.
Mile 1- 10’24” The beginning of the race was extremely difficult for me. There was no adrenaline rush, I was sleepy, and I honestly didn’t want to run anymore. My PR goal wasn’t even important to me. I just wanted to finish the race somehow. I saw so many runners hiking the trail, and I was debating whether or not I should do the same thing! Oh, and it was FREEZING. Everything from my fingers to my toes felt numb!
Mile 2- 11’15” There was a lot of uphill running, so I slowed down so that I wouldn’t use up all of my energy. I was taking energy gummies like crazy.
Mile 3- 11’30” Was wondering why I had signed up for this race! Definitely was not in the right mindset, especially so early on.
Mile 4- 9’58” Started feeling more like myself. I think my energy gels kicked in.
Mile 5- 10’01” So beautiful!!! I was focused more on the scenery around me. Wish I had taken pictures, but I felt like I would keep walking if I stopped.
Mile 6- 9’43” Miles 6-9 were all downhill on a concrete road. I had a really bad experience with running downhill on concrete in SF during my first half marathon! I’ll have to tell that story someday! Haha. But overall I was feeling good during these miles! Maybe because I was just letting gravity take me.
Mile 7- 10’26” Tried to pace myself because my knees were beginning to hurt. I should’ve focused more on my form!
Mile 8- 9’48” Realized I had to speed it up a bit.
Mile 9- 9’42” Was mentally preparing myself to hit the last part of my half with speed. I hadn’t given much effort up until this point, because I was scared to exhaust myself even more.
Mile 10- 9’38” Mentally and physically I thought I could hit a 9 minute pace or lower for this last 5k (last 3 miles of the race) I felt good, but started realizing my body was starting to slow down. I tried to keep it under a 10 minute pace! The last three miles were through the town surrounding Bass lake, so it was nice having a change of scenery!
Mile 11- 10’29” – I held on to the last bit of hope, that I could maybe run my 5k at a decent pace for this last stretch of my half.
Mile 12- 11’12” I realized there was no way I could run this 5k at my normal speed. Exhaustion was hitting me hard.
Mile 13-11’28” Is the race really not over yet? It felt like it kept dragging on! My legs felt tired and heavy. Felt like I was running with weights around my ankles. Miles 10-13 felt longer than miles 1-9 combined!
FINALLY, I saw the finish line! Hundreds of people were crowded around cheering us on. I think my adrenaline kicked in at the end, because somehow I sprinted the last 30 seconds. I passed the finish line with exhaustion, grabbed my medal, and headed straight for the snacks.
My half marathon goal was 2 hours and 7 minutes- 9.41 per mile. I finished in 2:18:46. Didn’t hit my goal, but I am so glad that I finished! Most importantly, I didn’t feel light-headed because I had “carb-loaded.”
Till this day my half PR is 2 hours and 5 minutes, which I ran in Davis, CA in 2017! That course was ALL flat, so getting a 2:07 on this Yosemite course would have definitely been a challenge. Overall, I’m so happy that I finished, and that I fought to ignore my negative self-talk! ( It was the Enneagram 1 coming out of me) It’s so easy to have a negative mindset when you’re not performing where you know you should be during a race. I know it’s something that I really need to work on!!
My next half marathon with Vacation Races is in Joshua Tree National Park in November! I’m so excited because it’s a night run through the desert. If anyone wants to join me, let me know! I begin training in July/August, and I’m always up for training with others. Whether it’s your first half or your tenth, new goals are always being made. Mine would be to finally break my Sub 2 hour goal! Who knows, it might happen this fall.
Watch the video below to see what Joshua Tree Half will be like!