The Hardest Half

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:
The first arrow is the downhill I knew would eventually become the most horrible uphill (decline of 100+ feet in less than .25 miles).
The second blue arrow is miles 7.5-9.5. The longest two-mile hill, ever
(incline of 300+ feet in 2 miles).
The red arrow is mile 12 (the reverse of the first blue arrow). The incline felt as if I were trying to run straight up a ladder. It was also the mile where I thought my legs would give out and I would fall over and die
(incline of 100+ feet in less than .25 miles).
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.
At first I was pretty disappointed with the 1:56 finish (my PR is 1:51:16)  but when I took a look at the numbers, and breakdown of other runners it hit me just how difficult the course really was. I'll take 98th overall, 21 in my gender division, and 6th in my age group. 
So the hunt begins to find the next half to push me along on this journey of pavement pounding… 


  1. Yay!!!! OMG girl that elevation chart KILLS me. Seriously only another runner would understand just how stinking insane that is. You girlfriend impress the socks off of me. My time would have been 2:30 and that is no joke! I am also constantly impressed at your ability to take pictures while running. You really must teach me how to do this.

    Good job, so proud of you!

  2. Pretty sure it takes me 2 hours to run 2 miles so I think you did great! Thinking about a full anytime soon? :)

  3. That time for a very hilly course is great - way to go!

  4. Congrats on a great race - you are a stud!

  5. Amazing!! You did awesome!!!! And the views look like they were beautiful as well =)

  6. I would have cried with all those hills. Florida is so flat that the slightest incline has me cursing.

    You did an awesome job! And that scenery is beautiful.

  7. You pushed yourself and did this. You worked hard, you focused on the long term goal and you made magic happen. What magic? You ran another half... some folks go their whole lives without running a single mile let alone 13 of them.

  8. I don't know how you get such amazing photos while running. Mine are always blury! You did amazing with those crazy hills! They are totally no joke. And that's awful to have such a hill at the end. So awesome you pulled through and that pace is not to shabby at all!

  9. oh yeah hills are brutal! I cannot. I live in flat FL, so when we were in CO and just walking around I was like what the heck man. But, you did it! That is awesome! My gosh those homes are beautiful, maybe they'd let me move in.

  10. Man those pictures are GORGEOUS. How you managed to take them and also keep up a good pace is beyond! So awesome! :)

  11. Girl you are AMAZING. Just looking at that elevation chart makes me was to keel over and die for you. AMAZING JOB!!!!!