The Pasadena half is the first Rock ‘n’ Roll race of at least 3 or 4 that I’ll be running this year and also the inaugural race in this particular market. Look for some travel deals and join in next time! I’ve run a few other inaugural races before and haven’t had any issues so far, and the Pasadena RnR was no different. I mentioned this when I posted my results on DailyMile, it doesn’t matter how many half marathons I’ve ran before (or will in the future), it’s still a tough distance to run. But I’m sure I’m making it a lot harder than I have to due to my lack of training and poor race strategy. Results: 1:36:45, 13.20 (7:19 min/mile), 35/325 AG, 218/5851 Overall. Considering what I ran in my last two half marathons (1:38 & 1:34), I was shooting for a 1:35 finish but I suppose I was close enough.
When I went to pick up my race bib the day before, I saw a sneak preview video of the course while being driven through in a car. What I realized then was that the course didn’t actually start or finish inside the Rose Bowl. I know the Pasadena half/full (on another date) does do this and I was looking forward to it as well. I must have made a mistake when I was reading about this course (although I think I confused it with another race that I’m running that does finish in a baseball field/stadium). I also registered for this race when it was first announced, so it was dirt cheap; I can’t really complain!
The course starts and finishes in the parking lot outside the Rose Bowl, which is kind of underwhelming. And the rest of the course basically takes you through the main and neighboring streets of Pasadena. It does pass through Cal Tech, which is nice and hills throughout which were tough, but nothing compared to some of the inclines I’ve ran before. The route was also the most compacted course I have ever run before. It was like an out and back, but not exactly. You start at one point of the Rose Bowl parking lot, go south to this small loop and then basically head east and turn back at a certain point. While you’re going east, you do a bunch of these ‘hairpin’ loops around random blocks, which adds up. I suppose the benefit to this is that spectators can watch runners pass and cheer at multiple points in the course which also benefits runners too. When you send runners off to random desolate areas of a course where no one is around, it definitely makes it tough to run hard during those points. The course finishes off going around the whole Rose Bowl back around to where we started.
It rained for most of the week prior to this race and I failed to check the weather for race day, but just assumed it would be OK, and it was. It was chillier than I would have wanted, but I wore a long sleeve and didn’t really notice. The fastest pacer that was available was 1:45, so I was basically on my own the whole way. But there were a few runners around me throughout parts of the race. There were two high schoolers running in what looked like pajamas, a few women in bright shirts, and some other guys that I don’t remember now that I’m thinking back.
I remember early on, I started to feel weak, like I was low on energy (which would have been disaster for the rest of the race). So I got Gatorade whenever it was available and even took an energy gel toward the end (although I heard it doesn’t help that much for such a short distance). I did feel a surge of energy (more like flashes than anything) at various parts of the race which felt nice. I know I didn’t run this race exactly how I wanted to: I started off a little too fast and wasn’t prepared for the hills throughout the course. I actually compared the splits for some of the runners that finished around me and what I noticed was that their 5K times were a lot slower than mine, but they eventually caught up to me at 10K and 10 miles, which just shows that I keep starting off too fast. If I just focus on holding back the first few miles, I could make the rest of the race more comfortable and possibly end up with a similar time or even faster!