Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. I’m so excited to write this post because the Armed Forces half marathon was a blast and I’m so happy I registered for it on a whim this year.
Registering for the event!
After the Eugene Half marathon on April 29th, I felt really good and strong and proud of my performance and decided two things:
- I wanted to run the Santa Rosa marathon this year
- I wanted to run another half marathon in late May or early June
Now, I have a rule for myself that I wait about a week to register for a race after I run a race to make sure I’m not being impulsive with my runner’s high, and that I’m not trying to force myself to run a distance too close after running a race. I had originally decided to upgrade my Windsor Green 10k to do the half, but I decided I would rather do a different race and experience a new half marathon instead. After lots of research, the Armed Forces half was the winner.
- Morning of packet pick up
- I could drive there that morning
- 3:30 course limit (I knew I would be near three hours and like the extra cushion)
- Was on a Saturday, and I’m starting long runs on Saturdays now. Also, my husband had to work the same day and I knew I would be bored out of my mind
So on May 9, just 2.5 weeks before the race, I pulled the trigger and registered. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know anything about the race, the race started really early, meaning I had to leave early, and I would be going by myself. Now, I know I’m 30 years old, but I’m also supremely introverted and have a hard time going to new places alone so the fact that I was going to give that a try was a big step for me.
But I digress.
After my performance at the Windsor 10k I was so surprised by my pace that I texted Coach Patrick in a wee bit of a panic.
He chatted me through a plan and a pacing goal which really helped me align. I am in no shape to PR but I also feel like I have no sense of how strong my little body is right now. He told me to stick to the plan for the week that he had given me, which I mostly did except on a whim I got invited to audition for a musical the same week I was tapering so I had an unexpected hour dance evening during the week. Fortunately it wasn’t too treacherous on my body, but it happened.
But Tuesday before the race I was at work, and my calf had bothered me during the Windsor 10k but loosened up and then I stepped off a curb at work walking between buildings of my company, and something in my right calf tightened up and I panicked! I went running that night and I couldn’t do it. I was so upset. Was I going to miss my first 13.1 race???? All because I stepped off a curb funny???
I rested on Wednesday instead of running what was on the plan, and on Thursday went for a massage, where she worked just on my calf. It felt better but I felt so loopy and woozy afterwards. I drank a lot of water and ate some popcorn and went to bed and told myself to run my shakeout on Friday and see how I felt.
Friday I laid out my clothes and ran about 20 minutes. I felt a dull feeling in my leg but it was tolerable. A friend had invited me over for dinner and let me elevate my leg at her house and I told myself to wake up the next morning and see how things felt. If I was really concerned, I wouldn’t go, but I had faith.
I had to wake up really early. It was brutal. I felt good and decided to go to the race. If things were bad, I would stop at an aid station and asked to be picked up. Easy as that. But I didn’t think I would need to.
Because I woke up so early I couldn’t stomach any food and saved my pre-race breakfast for the course. Did I mention I had to get up SO EARLY?!?? I had to leave the house at 4. FOUR FREAKING AM.
And off I went. It was really dark and I’ll be honest when I say I did not love driving that early when it was that dark. I got about 5 hours of sleep the night before so I was nervous. Next time I’ll consider that and probably get a hotel room for races that early.
I got on site around 5:25 AM. I am glad I left as early as I did because I was so bamboozled trying to find where I could park. I knew there were garages but I didn’t know where they were. I also walked in on someone who didn’t lock their port o potty so that was an exciting way to start the race 😑
The event, the Armed Forces Half Marathon, honors a branch of the armed forces each year. Last year was the first year and they did the navy and this year it was the army. I don’t have any family who has served, but I know two people who served in the army and I was sad I hadn’t thought to invite them to join. It was a really neat starting line with the army men and women, and vehicles.
The start line quickly filled up a few minute before the start, and they sang they National Anthem. They also played taps as a moment to honor. It was exciting to see everyone in their patriotic running gear, and runners wearing shirts noting what branches they served in or hearing them talk about it. If you have served, are serving, are a veteran, I thank you for your service.
I found a friend who I knew was running the race, Lupe, and was chatting with her at the start. We had talked online about the event and I told her maybe we could run a bit together. Off the race went, so we ran and talked.
The course goes through what is known as Bunker City” in Concord, CA. The early part of the race had an incline and across the course a few ups and downs.
It was HUMID during the race and I mean HUMID. I could feel sweat just pouring out of me during the first two miles of the race. I was worried I wouldn’t be warm enough just wearing a tank top but I was so glad I had because it was so humid out.
The course had great on course support and cheering. There was a trio of runners doing the event with full rucksacks and army boots, and also many people running with flags. It was really quite beautiful to see.
The course was mostly flat with a few rollers throughout and one big incline about halfway where you could see the entire Bunker City. It was a rad view. At one point in the race we saw the first place runner pass by us on the out and back potion, which is always fun to see. On the course there were kids cheering at the aid station, a DJ on course and there were cows!!! They were too far away to photograph.
I was doing 2/1 run walk intervals and my goal was to hold a 13:30 pace. I wasn’t even paying attention to my times but my body felt I was holding that pace.
Lupe and I were running and talking and I don’t even remember the first 11 miles of the race because we were talking the whole time! I thought we would run just about 2 miles with me so it was a total treat to run with someone that long. We parted ways at mile 10.75 and I finished myself. At mile 11 the reality of running my 12th half marathon hit me. Because I had been talking to Lupe for so long it didn’t even register in my mind! I was proud of myself for toeing up to the start line today. I knew the course would be long because my watch hit mile 11 before the sign came up.
Finally when I was hitting home stretch, I knew I was really close and found something deep in the bottom of my soul to give it a little more. I felt really strong going to the finish line and when I saw the clock said 2:58, I knew I had to book it to finish under 3 hours. Which I did, 2:59:01! Course was 13.22 according to my Garmin. Race time said I ran an average of 13:40, but my Garmin said (since it registered 13.22) my pace was 13:32 so I totally did what Coach Patrick and I aimed for, which I happily texted him at the end of the race!
I found my friend Lupe at the finish line festival and we hugged and said our goodbyes and that we would have to do it again soon! Shout out to her because she told me it was her 72nd half marathon!
I quickly got in line at the bagel shop near the finish line to eat something and then got in my car to go home. I wanted to leave as soon as possible due to 3 day weekend traffic. I would have liked to stay and visit the post race festival but I was concerned about how long I would be stuck in the car to come home.
All in all it was a great race and I’m so glad I registered on a whim. I’m so glad my leg behaved and everything was a great day. I can’t wait to do it again!!!!