Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon Recap

by Mexigarian on May 8, 2014

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Over the weekend I went up to Humboldt County to run the Ave 1/2 for the second year in a row. Last year I ran it with my little sister Victoria while my older sister Maria ran the 10k. This year, all three of us were supposed to do the 1/2 but Maria was still recuperating from her injured hamstring and dropped down to the 10k.

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Race morning, after a quick breakfast at the hotel, we packed up and headed down to the race site and sat in the car a little bit on the riverbed. We eye the droplets on the wind shield and gathered the umbrellas from the trunk before hiking up to the start area. The marathoners had already gone off at this point (7:45am) and we waited the hour between them and our start at the picnic table, warming up and stretching.

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15 minutes before the start, Vic decided she wants to tape her knee (it was giving her issues) and none of us knew how to tape a knee properly. With wonky satellite signal and a swiss army knife Maria and her husband Richard got Victoria’s leg taped with 5 minutes to spare. Vic and I then hurried to the crowd of 1/2 marathoners. She ran to the bathroom line and I considered joining but figured I could hold it (I joked with my mom that I could do what the triathletes do and she rolled her eyes at me).

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The national anthem was sung and I gave my lil sis a quick hug and wished her luck as we were going to run the course separately this year. I positioned myself somewhere towards the middle front (no corrals) and soon we were off and running.The Race

Start Miles 1-3   9:17,  9:09,   9:11

The race immediately starts you off crossing the bridge over Eel River. Then down the road under the canopy of giant redwoods. A quick open space as we took the freeway overpass and back into the avenue of trees we went.

I started within a throng of people, and still up until this point, had no idea what I was going to do. I was unsure of what my plan was with the race and course itself. I immediately decided to just run by feel and see how the heck it went. Quite honestly, I figured it’d be a course PB, but no PR. I felt slow, sluggish and just over all bleh. It was wet out, misty, and humid I was glad I wasn’t wearing sleeves but unzipped my vest to breath a little more. That and my hydration pack felt heavy and the water was doing it’s ritual slosh with the beat of my run.

I just went into auto pilot and tried to enjoy the scenery, eavesdrop on the conversations floating around me and just have a fun run. I soon found myself on pace with a woman in a grey and teal jacket and we started leap frogging one another. 

Miles 4-6    9:44, 8:52, 9:18

I plugged along, sticking pretty close by to my ‘pacer’ and tried to find a part of the road that wasn’t cambered. Lot of stretches of the Ave are like this and it was bothering my gait. I briefly thought about running off the course to use nature’s facilities (like I saw some people do*) but felt comfortable in my pace and told myself to hold it and continue running.

I felt like I was going too fast at one point and glanced down at my watch and saw low 8s on the screen. I reigned it in and let my pacer get ahead of me and told myself I could walk once we hit the turn around.

At one of the aid stations, it was positioned on the left hand side (opposite side of which we were running) and I could tell it was going to be an issue on the way back up the course.

*sidenote I observed one lady going into a giant briar patch with lots of poison oak mixed in. I hoped she wasn’t allergic to poison oak because that stuff can give you a terrible itchy rash and bumps. Please know what kind of foliage your stomping through before going to take care of business.

Miles 7-9  9:23,  9:17,  9:45

Mile 6 came and went and I was still trucking along behind my pace. For some reason I started getting a bit more energy and ran along side her for a little while and through the turn around point at 6.5. She glanced over and smiled, saying something along the lines of “come on, we can do it”. I guess she noticed I had been playing shadow with her. Smile

As we ran back up the course, I kept an eye out for Vic and sure enough, I saw her somewhere around my 7 or 7.5. She was running with a friend, reached out and we high fived and both continued on our races.

At this point I was feeling even more energized and passed my pacer for the last time and kept running. Here I could feel a small incline in the road, but it wasn’t too bad and I pushed on forward. We also got a light pattering of rain in one uncanopied area, but it returned to being heavy mist.

We ran into a little cluserf*ck around the mile 9 aid station (it was now on our right and runners heading down the opposite way were running into us to get water when there was no one handing it out on their side)

It’s also near the campgrounds and as much as I love a good campfire, today it was a little heavy on the smoke and not something I needed during a run. It was over really quick, once I ran past it.

Miles 10-12  8:39, 9:14, 9:25

Hell, I don’t know how I managed to sub 9 for a full mile but I did. I didn’t even know I did it until I check my stats after the race.

This is where things were getting hard, mentally. I knew I only had so much further to go but it felt so far. That and I my vision was beginning to get blurry. I slowed my pace but forced myself to keep running. I grabbed a watermelon slice at the second to last aid station around mile 11 or so.

It wasn’t until Mile 12 that I walked. It was only 20 seconds and because of the damn freeway overpass. I was getting a little dizzy and knew I was pushing it too hard. I had been keeping track of my pace and time since the turn around and knew I could come in with my A goal of under 2:10 finish if I kept at it. As soon as I counted 20, I was back to running and using the downhill to my advantage.

I told myself no more walking. Run to the finish. I forced the blurriness from my sight, focusing on things only a few feet in front of me (rather than yards away).

Mile 13 to Finish 9:48, 8:43

The rain started up again and was slowly coming down on us. A small crowd of spectators began building the last mile towards the finish.

I gathered whatever speed I had left in me and gunned it over the bridge, nearly collided into some walkers on the bend to get to the finish chute and cut around them. The rain was coming down harder and I saw 3 clocks posted, heard my older sister yelling at me and Eric cheering. I waved and crossed the finish line.

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Official time: 2:05:19

a new half marathon PR and a course PB!!

Damn that 20 second walk! Hahaha.

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I got my medal, met up with my family, and we waited in the rain for Victoria to finish. I knew she had to be 10 to 15 minutes behind me and sure enough she came in around 2:21:xx a 14 minute PR for her.

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Maria came in around 1:08 which was pretty damn good considering she only did 2 runs before the race and her bum hamstring.

We quickly gathered things up and headed back to the cars to get out of the rain.

T-Shirt Medal

Cotton woman’s tee with another lovely image on the front. The same image is used for the medal.

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Love it. Comfy, colorful and creative. And acute little fisher.

If you told me I was going to hit my 1/2 marathon goal of the year to come in under 2:10 on this course I would  have laughed and thought, maybe plausible (course is relatively flat and fast) if I had trained better. My training has been sporadic and I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the race. Certainly not a 2:05. My average pace was 9:17 and not once did I hit the 10+ minute pace.

Very surprising indeed. It makes me wonder if I can hit my new goal. Sub 2 hours? Or at least a sub 2:05 Winking smile 

All I know it was was a great race and I had a great time. And the running bug has bit me again. I want to race some more and do my one big marathon. San Francisco. I hear you calling my knee. Even with your damn hills.

Tell me. . .

How was your weekend? Any race reports or recaps to share? Link away!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathryn May 8, 2014 at 5:36 am

Congrats on the PR – fantastic stuff! It looks really lovely, despite the rain. Def considering it for 2015.

Are the bunny ears coming on Ragnar with us? :)

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Mexigarian May 15, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Thanks Cathryn! I definitely recommend the race. It’s fun and such a lovely experience to run under the redwoods. Yes, I think those bunny ears will make an appearance on Ragnar :)

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Erica { EricaDHouse.com } May 8, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Awesome!! The shirt and medal are adorable. I’m gunning to hit 2:05 on a half this year as well :)

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Mexigarian May 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm

I’m sure you’ll get that sub 2:05 soon enough. You’ve been doing great with training!

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Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) May 8, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Congrats on the new PR! What a wet race!!

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Mexigarian May 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Thanks you Kelli! Yeah, it was interesting for sure at the finish line, but fun :)

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Thu May 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Your splits are looking AWESOME.

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Mexigarian May 15, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Thank you! I’m still a little shocked at them. :)

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Karen May 13, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Congrats!! I ran this race too and remember seeing you in your bunny ears! I love reading others’ reports of races I’ve done. :) I’m sure you could go sub-2 on an easier course. I’ve run the Ave 1/2 (and HRM 1/2, same course) half a dozen times and it’s always about 3 min slower than my PR.

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Mexigarian May 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Thank you! Damn you’re fast (just check your race report). Funny, I considered the Ave as one of the easier 1/2s I’ve done. I don’t know why, but it just feels that way. Which course holds your PR?

Reply

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