Saturday morning I woke before the sun, slipped on the running gear I'd set out the night before, sipped a piping hot cup of coffee, and acknowledged the pre-race jitters that greet me every morning before a race.
I arrived at the event an hour before start time. The ocean air was cool and crisp, and the sun was lazily coming up over the water.
|That sunrise, though.|
Along with the gorgeous sky opening up before me everything else surrounding me was pretty picturesque as well.
The seconds ticked away to minutes, and before I knew it I was lining up with the rest of the participants in the chute and the National Anthem was sung.
We were off, and right away at mile 1 the sky gave us the most incredible race-start "welcome" in the history of race starts.
I knew the course was going to be challenging (I looked at the course elevation map a whopping hour before race start), running the coastal cliffs is never easy (thankfully I run/train hills almost every day)… But, with all the hills and elevation changes the first 7 miles seemed to slip by.
The route was beautiful.
We ran through some pretty spectacular neighborhoods where homes towered on the cliffs and stood as sentinel to the ocean.
|Forgive the blur. Quality is kind of hard to achieve while trying to maintain pace.|
I want to know what these people do.
Seeing the ocean during the entire run was a pretty cush bonus.
Then miles 7.5 to 9.5 happened. The steady two-mile uphill battle was brutal.
|I wish the pictures did the hills, both up and down, justice. They don't. At all.|
What goes up must come down was my mantra for the ENTIRE run.
Somehow by mile 10 I felt good. Really, really good. And mile 10 is usually where the mind game begins for me.
|Mile 10 felt so good I was compelled to snap a picture of the mile marker. This is usually where I want to keel over and die.|
It wasn't until mile 12 when a ridiculous hill reared its hideous head. The hill was so steep, and my body was so spent, that I did something I haven't done in five years. On two occasions I had to walk a few steps, give myself a mental pep talk, and resume running. I kept thinking, "This is such a cruel place to put such a difficult hill."
By the grace of God I didn't die, I made it up the hill, and the rest of the race was relatively down hill from that point.
|The last downhill portion - half mile from the finish line.|
A look at the course elevation changes:
Crossing the finish line I knew I wasn't even close to a PR. But, I'd done it. THE hardest 13.1 miles I've ever run was complete (this half was, hands down, more difficult than the Kansas City Hospital Hill Half - I never thought I'd find a race more challenging). The best part of all, my two of my favorite people in the whole world, my two biggest supporters and cheerleaders were cheering me to the finish.
|The biggest thank you to Scott and Marcus for all the support and encouragement.|
A few people have asked if I'll run the Lexus Lace Up Palos Verdes Half. My knee-jerk response was, "No way! It's too hard. I'm one and done with that one." But, the most time passes I kind of feel as if I need to get out and run it again, to prove to that 12-mile hill that I can beat it, that I can beat my time, that I can come in stronger and faster.