The race location was about an hour from my house. I wanted/needed to get there early to pick up my bib, chip and goodie bag. The website had made it clear that is was about a 10 minute walk from the parking area to the registration area. I wanted to make sure I had enough time so I got there at 6:00 a.m. The race started at 7:00. Let me just say that it was cold. I felt like it was freezing. In reality it was 40°, but I couldn't warm up or convince myself that I would.
On the way back to the car to dump off the goody bag and get out of the sweats I had worn, I ran into a coworker. I had just met him a week earlier at someone else's going away party. He's only been in southern CA for about 4 months. This was going to be his first race since he got here. It was very cool to run into someone I knew, even a little bit, since I had signed up for this race alone. He has joined a local running club and is getting involved with the running community in his neck of the woods. We talked about meeting up for a week day run now and then. Cool, another possible running partner. About 5 miles into the race I passed one of the guys that had run the Super Bowl 5K with us. I never expected to see him. He was very encouraging. I ended up running into both of them again at the finish line festivities as well.
Because I felt so cold I opted to keep my gloves and thermal shirt on for the start of the race. This was a mistake because by Mile 2 I was looking for a place to ditch them. I ended up carrying the gloves and just took my arms out of the sleeves and had the shirt draped around my neck.
Miles 1 to 3 were on the roads through the neighborhoods of Agoura hills. After a downhill start we made quite a few turns through the neighborhood. I got off to a slow start, 9:30 for Mile 1. But Mile 2 and 3 came in at 8:22 and 8:18. Just after Mile 3 we left the pavement and hit the trail. Because of the recent rain, the race organizers had opted not to truck in water for on trail aid stations so they handed each runner a bottle to carry throughout the next 7.5 miles. I ended up with my hands full. There were also no mile markers on the trail. This wasn't really a big deal to me. I knew that the highest point of the race was around the 8 mile mark. Then pretty much down hill from there.
The first part of the trail was fairly flat, but because of this it was very muddy. It didn't stick to your shoes too much but it was pretty slippery. It was quite the challenge to get through that section. Then we started a long slow ascent up pretty much a single track trail. It was very easy to just fall in behind someone and keep going. This is a nice tactic on a training run but dangerous in a race. I had to keep reminding myself to find away around and not run someone else's race. On the way upno onee passed me, but I was able to get by a quite a few people. I was feeling pretty good about that. The last of the uphill was the steepest and toughest. I had to stop to tie my shoe (not to self, always double knot, especially in a race) and lost some ground on a few of the people I had just passed. Much of the trail was rutted from water runoff so I had to keep my eyes open and jump back and forth across the rut. It made the run a little more difficult but a whole lot of fun.
When we hit the downhill, I was able to pick up some speed, but downhill is not my strong suit. I got passed quite a few times on the down hill. I passed one man that was older than I was, but the next thing I knew he caught up to me. We ended up talking most of the way down. A women tried to pass us. He said to her "You're not in my age group, so you can go by. If you were I'd have to trip you." We all got a laugh out of that. There was one more uphill before we hit the pavement and I left him behind, but I assumed he would be right behind me again in a minute.
When we finally hit the pavement at about Mile 10.5, it was a nice long downhill. There were mile markers on the street but I forgot to hit my watch, so no splits. When the course flattened out I just ran out of steam. The older guy caught me around mile 12 and beat me to the finish. I wasn't even in his age group. I kept plodding along and watching the time tick away on my watch. I had hoped 1:50, but would be happy with a 2:00, Considering the conditions of the race, it's not an accurate comparison to regular road race times.
We finished on the track at Agoura Hills High School. That was pretty neat. The 10K guys were finishing at the same time and came barreling around me at the curve on turn 3 and 4. I looked like I was standing still. I felt bad for being in their way. They should have asked the half marathoners to take the outer lanes. The two 10K guys finished in a dead heat at 4:57 pace. Now that's flying!
My official time was 2:01:48. Just a little more than I had hoped for. I guess that'll teach me not to carry so much with me and to double knot my shoes before hand!
The post race party has been voted #1 in a poll conducted by the LA Sports and Fitness Magazine, the last four years running. There was a lot a variety in food and pretty good bands too. I had Cold Stone Ice Cream! I've never had that at a race before. I'd cast my vote for this party based on the ice cream alone.
This race was a whole lotta fun!