We have a goal to race at least once per month this year, and most of those adventures will be on the trails of California’s Central Coast! Brazen Racing showed us a great time (and thorough a**-kicking) with our first trail half-marathon last September, so we’ve been looking for the right opportunity to cross under their inflated Start/Finish arch again.
BR’s head honcho, Sam, offered me a free entry to the Hellyer Half-Marathon, so I convinced my main squeeze to join in the fun. There’s no better way to distract yourself one week before standing at the altar! We happily joined in for some sunny and supported paved-trail miles.
Brazen is known for trail races around the San Jose area, but this course wouldn’t typically be filed under that category. That’s 100% fine by these legs – it was the perfect chance to see how well my fitness has bounced back from the knee chaos that was. It was his chance to snatch up that 1:29:xx PR that he’s been chasing (successful!).
Flat, out-and-back (no surprises!) and well-supported!
His goal was to practice starting SLOW (relative term here) and building up to a successful negative split. My goal was to simply make it through 13.1 miles with “ease” and finally feel like the injury is behind me.
The first few miles were a little rusty – remembering how it feels to race for endurance, warming up, getting my stride to a comfortably-hard effort. I settled into an 8:30 pace and turned on auto-pilot. The first half was spent in this zone, with two very happy feet and one happy ego. I practiced my race-fueling strategy (taking a tip from Dean Karnazes and trying out dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans), ran without tunes (ah, the zen…) and snapped a few pics along the way.
Mile 7: We turned around and headed straight back. Around mile 8 I decided to turn it up a notch and see what happened. That felt fine, so I picked people to chase and started passing them. I also spent a lot of time doing head-math, which most runners know is just a way to a) distract your mind and b) feel like you’re pretty dumb. It’s effective all around. For mile 10 I decided to drop into sub-8s, and from mile 11 –> the finish I found my 7:30 stride again (oh, it’s been a while….).
Mike was hangin’ out around mile 12.5 with his paparazzi hat on – and hopped in to run through the actual home-stretch with me.
I came in just under my 1:50 goal (1:49:46 – 4th AG) and for today, that wasn’t all easy breezy. But damn it felt so good to get out there again, without “what ifs” but with a healthy system that’s happily building up the machine (as Coach K would say).
There’s a lot more to come this year, and this was the perfect way to open my eyes to what I’m ready to chase. (For now, we’re just glad we made it out unscathed and in top shape to walk down the aisle this week…)
Thanks for another great race, Brazen! We’ll see you again soon.