I ran the inaugural RnR LA Half last year which turned out to be a very well organized and successful race. I ran it again this year mostly because I got an entry from the Brooks ID team and it gave me another reason to visit the family back home. I knew I wouldn’t have been able to push the pace too much considering I went into the race with about a 1.5 mile week (I blame work, travel & laziness for that). So when I saw the results, I was very pleasantly surprised: 13.1 miles (Garmin said 13.54, but I think it lost its signal going in and out of a tunnel.. Time: 1:35:12, AG: 31/548, Overall: 207/7738. I’m adding this race to my ‘correct way to pace’ section; I made a conscious effort to maintain a specific pace (7:15/7:20) at the beginning to give more energy for the rest of the race. This strategy has been proven successful time and time again; I don’t know why I’m always surprised to see that it works..
They changed the course this year, not sure if people complained or if it just cost too much to close so many parts of downtown LA for an extended period of time. This course was straightforward, but pretty boring: start at LA Live/Staples Center, go West for a mile or two, U-turn back to the start area, then East for 3-4 miles and another U-turn back to the start/finish. You do hit a few landmarks: USC, LA Colosseum (only place that hosted the Olympics twice!) and the Natural History Museum. It’s better because we got more spectator support and like all other RnR races, bands along the course. Almost forgot to mention: since it was Halloween weekend, there were quite a few interesting costumes during this race, which is a nice distraction
The start for the half was at 7:30, which in runners’ eyes is a late start to a race. I was able to sleep in a little bit longer and still made it without hitting any traffic, which was awesome. Even better was not having to wait in line for a porta potty. I was able to just relax before the race, lace up and get to my corral (#1). It’s always intimidating to start a race with a bunch of elite runners, but also difficult because I want to try and hang with some of the faster runners, which is a recipe for disaster. But the race started, I weaved my way around some slower starters and then settled on the pace I wanted to run for a while. It would have been nice to be able to run with a pacer for at least a couple of miles, but I never saw one for the time I wanted to run, so I was basically on my own. My pace for the first couple of miles didn’t feel very consistent: I would be too slow, so I sped up, but sped up too much etc.
There is a running quote I read somewhere that went like this: “Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.” I think this is why I don’t like to look at my watch during the later part of races; I don’t want to get caught up trying to hit a certain pace. I’d rather just go with how I’m feeling and hope that my body can endure for the rest of the race. Of course, there’s always the part of me that thinks that whatever pace I’m going at is way slower than I actually want to run, but for the most part, I’m able to resist looking.
And by holding back the first few miles, I was able to run strategically, which I love doing! It’s discouraging when you’re so tired that you don’t bother putting up a fight when someone comes up to you and you just let them pass. I found runners around me to partner up with, either going at their pace or setting the pace myself and make them try to hang with me. I was also able to surge sporadically (around corners or right after getting water), which I think is a great way to get some space from others.
There was one runner that I caught up to around the halfway point and she was going at a decent pace, so I surged to run next to her. We went back and forth for the next couple of miles, I actually extended my lead on her on one downhill, but she was able to catch up not too long after, so I’m not sure if she surged to catch me after the hill, or if I slowed down enough for her to get me. But it was nice to have someone to consistently run with or around.
The course was for the most part, flat with a gradual incline for 3-4 miles and then an uphill to a bridge, which reminded me of the SF Half that took us across the Golden Gate Bridge, but this one was definitely not as scenic! We made the U-turn right after the bridge, so it the downhill was shortly after. I’m sure I’m lucky by not having any knee problems (yet), so I always let gravity take over and pick up the pace significantly (not sure if the pace chart is accurate).
I think it was around mile 11-12 where I started to pick up the pace, it may not have even big that much faster. But my theory is that most people are so tired by the end of the race, their pace drops significantly, if not, they’re just working to try and maintain the pace they ran throughout. So it’s always nice to be able to pick it up, even if it’s just the last mile to be able to finish strong. I was hoping the other runner would be able to hang on (although a part of me didn’t since I didn’t want to risk getting chicked!) I was coming close to the straight-away, but still couldn’t see the finish when this young kid came out of nowhere and passed me. But I think he mis-calculated how much energy he actually had because I was able to maintain and then start my kick later and pass him before the finish. Races are always better if you can have a good finish, and of course, it looks better.
Check out some race photos below as well as the finishing video.