“Your goal should be just out of reach, but not out of sight.”
Denis Waitley and Remi Witt
If you have kept up with my series about being athletically minded, you have read my post on my training regime for the back to back half marathons I competed in the second weekend in July.
The first race was a Morro Bay, just north of San Luis Obispo, CA. The race was warned ahead of time to be a “trail run”. In true Amanda fashion, I was not aware of the gravity of a trail run for 13.1 miles, especially considering I run in Brooks shoes designed for pavement running.
There is a huge difference between pavement and trail running. There is also a huge difference between trail running and beach running. This difference I learned at 8:30AM on the morning of July 9th.
The weather started out as a cool misty fog over the majority of the beach. This obstructed most of my view of where the course started. Once I got closer, it became apparent that the course was appearing to mostly be on the beach. I have ran on the beach before. However I trained or ran no more than 5 miles on beach front. First time for everything, right?
The race was off to a great start in the beginning. I felt strong, the sand was proving to feel pretty similar to pavement, and I was establishing a great pace. I was pacing at about 9:15 minute miles, which was an excellent start as I was planning on picking up the speed for the last 3 miles. Of course, I was about to be thrown a curve ball.
The course quickly began to become choppy in the sand making my intended goal of finishing in under two hours dismal. With a little bit of sand hill side climbing in a few different areas of the course, I pushed ahead to the turn around at mile 6 where the 10k runners were finishing and the half marathoners were just getting their feet caught in some soft sand.
For those not familiar with running on the beach, soft sand is similar to walking to snow. Your feet become quickly trapped under more weight than you anticipate and it’s more difficult to keep a steady pace as you end up expending much more energy just trying to get through the sand. I was running, but I’m sure to onlookers I appeared to be walking.
With the last three miles completely turning into soft sand running, my goal was quickly dashed.
I finished, but at 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Waking up the next morning proved quite difficult. However, I promised my friend I would run this race with her, so I taped up my knees and left ankle (sustaining injury from the race the day before) and headed out to an even earlier start time- 7AM.
The course changed from the last time I had run this half marathon; this time around the course headed out towards Faria State Beach along Emma Wood State Beach and Hwy 1.
Upon reaching the 5 mile turn around to head back to the pier, I had to walk for the first time in any half marathon I have competed in thus far. The tightness in my left leg from the 13 miles of slanted beach running was getting to me on the pavement. My pace was at a slow 10:30 minute mile, which was setting me back almost a full 30 minutes from my original goal.
I paced right next to the 2 hour and 30 minute pacer for the last four miles of the race. She proceeded to tell me about her time as a half marathon and full marathon runner, three of the half marathons she had ran while pregnant. Additionally, she had competed in the LA Full Marathon this past year at 18 weeks pregnant. I decided after this point, it was time to kick up my pace a notch.
I finished at 2 hours and 22 minutes. Overall the time for VTA could have been much, much better, had I not ran the Morro Bay Race.
To Sum Up the Goal
I won’t be participating in back to back half marathons anymore. My body is not built to do such an extreme race broken up the way I had done it. In the future, I will be looking to compete in a full marathon.
I didn’t reach my goal of finishing both in under two hours. I think my training plan was great in terms of feeling stronger and pacing better. Sand running appears easier than it actually is. Without training on sand, I hindered my own performance.
Surprisingly enough, two weeks later I received a third place medal from the Morro Bay race organizer, for placing third overall in my time for my age division!
As with half marathon, the race is always against yourself and the clock, but medals have never hurt!