Saturday, June 03, 2006

Fontana Days Half

First, I want to give a big Thanks to all you who weighed in on my long run question. For the immediate future I just decided to run the half with Janice and not add any extra miles. I will do the 22 miler next weekend and then see how I feel after that before I decide my exact mileage three weeks out. If I had to decide right now, I'm leaning toward 18 for that week. I'll keep you all posted.
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Today I ran the Fontana Days Half Marathon. It is billed as the World's Fastest Half Marathon Course, due to the fact that it is predominately downhill. I did this one last year and PR'd by 15 minutes (it was only my second half). This year's race was not about me. It was all about Janice. She is a Tech Aide at my work, or as we fondly call them, a Lab Monkey. The term isn't really a fair assessment of the tech aides abilities. Tech Aides usually are working towards or recently completed a science or engineering degree. Janice was completing a post baccalaureate program in science in preparation for entry into dental school when she started working with us. She was accepted to Harvard and the University of CA at San Francisco. She ultimately decided on UCSF. So she is one smart cookie and accepts the Lab Monkey designation with humor.

Somewhere along the line she got it into her head that she was going to run a half marathon. She had run the Nike Run Hit Wonder 5K last year. She picked Fontana since it was local, but she only really gave herself about a month to train. She asked me to run with her. My goal was to get her through. She planned to run 10 miles last weekend but didn't get around to it until Tuesday, 5 days before the half. On Wednesday, based on the time she took for that run I estimated her half marathon finish at 2:15 to 2:30.

My job, at least as I saw it, was to keep her from going out too fast on the downhill start and to keep her motivated from mile 10 on. At the starting line it was fun to see how excited and nervous she was. The first few miles are the biggest decline and is partially shaded by the mountains and trees of Lytle Creek. We took off, I was determined to let Janice set the pace. I did the best I could to hang just half step behind and not pull her along. Mile 1 went by in 9:13. Not too bad I thought considering the downhill. Mile 2 in 9:13. I was impressed that she was so consistent. Mile 3 was 9:02. I suggested that we try to slow down a little. I was expecting 9:30 miles and really didn't want her to wear out in the last few miles. These miles are hard enough anyway but at Fontana, you've lost any downhill advantage and the course is exposed to the sun for at least 7 miles, expected highs were 100°F.

Mile 4 came in at 9:43 and included a walk break through the water stop. I was OK with that. Mile 5 came in at 9:48. I didn't panic but felt we hadn't really slowed that much. Mile 6 was 9:08, back on track or maybe mile markers were off a little. We walked the next water stop for Mile 7 at 9:24. At this point Janice still felt good, she was setting the pace. Mile 8 - 9:04, Mile 9 - 9:25. By the time we were in Mile 10, Janice was starting to get tired. From mile 8 on only one or two people passed us and we slowly reeled other runners in as we went. I tried to let her know what a great job she was doing. She was getting a little frantic looking for the next water stop. I talked her through it, spotted the water stop, we walked it and finished Mile 10 in 9:55.

At this point, I think that she realized that she was now in uncharted territory and the heat was beginning to take its toll. I missed the Mile 11 marker. We took an extra walk break and made it through Mile 11 and 12 in a combined 20:41. We were definitely slowing down. I looked over at Janice and realized that she had stopped sweating. She also said that she felt a little tingling especially her hands. I was afraid that she was showing signs of dehydration. Somewhere during this stretch, Janice was having difficulty staying motivated but she kept going.

After mile 12 we could clearly see the finish line ahead and I said "No more walk breaks, let' just get this thing done." The last couple of miles I was pulling her along. With about half a mile to go, Janice picked up the pace and we finished Mile 13.1 in 10:39.

Finish time by my watch 2:05:20. The official time is probably about 10 seconds longer and will be on the web by Wednesday. I think this is a great finish considering her relative short training plan and the near 90° temperature. Janice proved me wrong, she was not going to settle for a 2:30 or even a 2:15 half marathon. She was very pleased and felt great. It was a very happy moment, knowing that she accomplished her goal. Last week before even running this one, she signed up for the Wine Country Half Marathon. I'd say she's hooked on running. I'm so proud!
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Today is my birthday! Three years ago today I went for my first run. I'm celebrating three years as a runner. What a cool way to spend it, by helping another runner achieve her goal.

Other significant accomplishments:
Miles for May: 181.3, another all time high (I'm beginning to sound like a broken record)

Tomorrow I'll go back to Bonelli for my Sunday morning run, then I'll be away on business. See you all next Thursday.

12 comments:

PLANET3RRY said...

That was a great race report! Go Janice aka Lab Monkey!

Happy Birthday and Happy Running Anniversary to boot!

Darrell said...

Just to clarify today was my 3rd "birthday" as a runner. My real birthday is coming up right after I run SEAFAIR (along with a much higher number).

Robb said...

That was really nice of you to help Janice. That's what real runners like yourself do Darrell. Good job.

Joe said...

What a cool story, Darrell. Janice is a fortunate lady to have you to help her through a high temp, less-than-perfectly-prepared-for half!! I'm sure she was grateful.

That business of near-dehydration at mile 11 was a little scary. Hope she was able to hydrate well the rest of the day.

Fontana...what memories...and almost all of mine are hot!!!

Happy anniversary on running too!! How cool what you've done!!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

happy running birthday!!!

what a great pacer. good job!

Donald said...

You've done all this in just three years?? You have a lot of improvement ahead of you, young man.

Nice race report, glad it went well.

robtherunner said...

Congratulations on helping Janice through her first half.

Congratulations also on your running birthday. I guess I am a bit older than you at almost 4 1/2 years of running under my belt. Started in January of 2002.

Raul! said...

Bravo to both of you for completing the half, and extra props for running in that heat! I hid indoors for most of the weekend after running eight miles on Saturday morning. I couldn't stand the heat.

Happy running birthday!

Yvonne said...

happy running birthday =)

matt said...

Darrell, you just continue to impress me with your consistency and your consistent improvement. You are so strong out there and to run that kind of race in the heat. You must be excited for your marathon, buddy!

Jessica Deline said...

Happy running birthday! And dang 181 miles in one month. Woohoo!!

Rae said...

Happy Belated Birthday and Happy Running Anniversary!! That's SO awesome!!

Great job on pacing your friend through her first half. I can imagine sharing her excitement would be so fantastic! That's a great time for her first half. She'll have a long and great running career for sure!