Thursday, December 27, 2012

Race Report: Operation Jack Half Marathon

Dockweiler State Beach | Los Angeles, CA
Decemberr 26, 2012

I had signed up for this race way back before Labor Day - which, frankly, feels like a century ago. I was excited to have one last race to end the year, and even more excited because the race is so freaking flat compared to any of my other halfs (all in Georgia, though Wine and Dine was pretty flat too). 

Pulling up to the beach in the morning.
Christmas Day always ends pretty late, but I needed to be a little more conscious of time this year, and was home and in bed by midnight with a 5:30 am alarm. Woke up at 5:05 (you know, race excitement!) to the sound of pouring rain. The forecast had changed overnight from afternoon rains to rains alllll morning - super. Just the kind of race that I'm sure my family wanted to stand in (their first time at any race for me!). What a way to convince them that this was where they needed to be at 7:30 am on the day after Christmas. Ha! 

It poured the entire way to the beach and, kid you not, stopped nearly as soon as we parked. It was still slightly cloudy when we took off at 7:30, but was sunny (and warm!) by the time it was over. You've got to love Southern California "winters"! So much so that this guy was out there too.  (His sign says It Never Rains in Southern California

My outward, mostly public goal for this race was a 2:05, given its flatness, but had mentioned to a few people that I thought this was a great opportunity for a sub-2. I was planning on continuing my 4-1 interval rotation and putting my semi-speed to the test during my 4-minute runs. The course went up about 3.5 miles, turned around back through the starting area, down about 3 miles and back up to the start/finish line; half marathoners looped once, and fullers did it twice. Not a bad course, and certainly running along the ocean or the creek wasn't too shabby either (and a positive change in scenery for me!). I was able to book it through the first loops, hitting back at the start line just about 7.25 miles in at 1:05 - if I had kept up that pace, I was on track for a pretty killer PR by the end! 

The course was beautiful, entirely on the bike path (or shortly off of it) and followed the Pacific Ocean or Balona Creek, so you were also in view of water and often the seagulls that come along with it. Given that my races prior have either been in downtown Atlanta, or in massive tree groves or gardens (or one set of amusement parks), this was a great race for me just in terms of the scenery. Absolutely loved it - doesn't hurt that when the rain subsided and the clouds rolled out, it was an absolutely stunning morning on the west coast. 

It at that semi-mid-point (Mile 7ish) that I dropped my water bottle with my family, and therefore forget my Shot Bloks in the pocket. Oops. I was trucking along pretty good, started hurting around Mile 10 and by Mile 11, felt really... over it. I walked/ran as I felt I could for the last two miles, and pushed hard to jog the last half mile in, with a typical Megan .2 mile sprint to finish at a 2:14:06 time (at least per Garmin status). Admittedly disappointed at first, but in realizing just how out of whack I was with my typical race prep, not a shabby showing; I think I was more disappointed with how well the first 7 miles went and how hard I crashed in the last 5. After a little bit of wallowing, I realized that all things considered, the race is about an average of my fall races, which just goes to show that I've really done work the last few months overall and that I've been putting in some great effort. Also goes to show that maybe hills do push me harder, but also force me to pay more attention to my body and how I feel and my paces - I thought super flatness was going to work to my advantage, but I think that's what got me ahead of my mental game before the race even started.

But I did it!
So grateful my family was able to be there for me. 
First lesson of the day: make sure you have the food you always have before a race. I couldn't find peanut butter in my parents' cabinets (womp), so I had a banana (normal) and a slice of coffee cake (not so normal, but I figured the carbs and sugar would do me some good).  Second lesson: stick with your gut on your shoe choice. I brought both pairs (Pure Connects and Kinvaras). I haven't worn my Brooks longer than 8 miles since Wine and Dine (nearly 7 weeks), but as it was pouring, I didn't want to ruin the newer Kinvaras. I think that's part of what got me. Third lesson: even if you dump your water bottle, make sure you take your Gus or chomps or whatever. That definitely did not help my abilities. Fourth lesson: taking 5 days off of running, drinking in Vegas, and running one 3-mile run the day before the race is not enough to get you prepped! Ha.

Overall, a great race - I love the cause behind it, the purpose, and so many people come out and support Train for Autism and ultimately, Sam's purpose with hosting this race every year. I loved that there were everywhere from first-time half marathoners to women who had run Boston to barefoot runners doing the full - it was a true showing of all kinds of runners. Great t-shirts, great medals (they're dog tags, but actually of a medal thickness), and a great environment. If you're in LA, or even elsewhere (they have satellite runs every year too), and want a flat race to shake up your winter a bit, this is it. So glad I did, even thought it wasn't my best ever. See you next year, Operation Jack!

Race Pros
 - Awesome, personal cause that you don't see often in big races - that message can get lost. Loved that Sam comes out for the race, runs prior & sees it until the end
- Fabulous volunteers!
- Great medals - unique dog tag!
- Small race, not crowded
- Can't beat running on the beach

Race Cons
- Rain up until almost the start! But you can't help that. And it made the weather clear up amazing for a great view!
- Could have used an extra water/fuel station in the middle of each 'arm' of the route
- Paying for parking, though not expensive, but a bummer. Any way to work with them on that? :)

Operation Jack Half Marathon
Half Marathon #7 & Final Race of 2012


  1. Congrats on #7!!! What a cool medal, too. I'm sorry the race wasn't what you expected but 2:14 is still a fantastic time.

    1. Totally realized I never responded to this. :( Womp! 2:14, in hindsight, is still awesome, especially snce it was well outside my normal pre-race strategies. I'm satisfied. And, if anything... I'm consistent. :)

  2. Hey girl! congrats on the race! even thought there was some initial disappointment, you should be so proud. Also, there's a lot of lessons you mentioned that's very helpful for me as well
    Great job - you'll absolutely get your goal one day!

    1. Thanks love! Lots of lessons to be learned -- and still being semi-new to this, it was a great lesson to have!

  3. awesome job and <3 the cause :) ill be running the satellite 10k tomorrow here in freezing cold snowy maine!

    1. Ah, awesome! How was the 10K?

      ... just realizing I never responded to your comment. :(