Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Race Report: Run Through Redlands Half Marathon

Redlands, CA | April 27

I haven't had a half marathon since January - considering I was doing like 10 of these a year, it's a little wild to think about. But I'm really quite okay with allowing myself to do things as I please. Not every race will be a PR, not every race will be awesome, but I'm getting out there and at least being as active and fit as possible. Still figuring it out, but I'm alright!

Redlands isn't far from my parents house, so when I saw this, and its super moderate price tag (less than $60 even with online fees), I figured it was a great opportunity to take advantage of not only a local race, but a long-standing one, too! 31st annual? They must be doing something right!

Gorgeous race morning!
5:30 am came really early on Sunday morning – I haven’t faced an alarm clock like that in a while (okay, maybe just since Ragnar). But like I do every race day, excitement got me up and moving and I was out the door well before 6. As I said, Redlands isn't too far from my parents' house, so that made it easier to get out the door at least! 

Parking was super easy – the Redlands Mall is all but shut down, so all the parking lot was open, and they were able to utilize the parking garage as their packet pick-up center: those registering on-site, pre-registered, and the different stations for the 5 and 10Ks (cotton shirts) and the half-marathoners (tech tees). Bonus: FREE SHOT BLOX. Heck freaking yes! Bonus points right then and there!

Tech tee for half marathoners. 
I still had about 30 minutes to kill before the half start. I thought the way the races were staggered was interesting: the 10K at 7 am, the half at 7:20, and the 5K at 7:45. Normally, I usually see the 5/10Ks off all before or after, but not the half in the middle like that! Either way, it worked, as save for a few walkers, all 10Kers were off the half course (we split about mile 3.5) by the time us half marathoners came through.

The entire course is through residential areas of Redlands, and a few parks and through or by some delicious smelling orange groves. This course actually reminded me a LOT of the Citrus Heritage half, just from the scenery, orange trees, and hills! But overall, it’s a gorgeous course through some pretty areas of the city.
Now, this course was clearly marked on the website with one monster hill in the middle – or so it looked.

Views for days!
When you look at the map, it looks like it’s just 3 miles of up, but it looks fairly progressive. Wrong. It’s up, then flat for like 20 yards, then up some more, and maybe flat, then up up up and up some more. Toughie, that’s for dang sure. At any rate, given those hills, and I wasn’t sure how my knee would hold up, I pushed hard as far as I could. Sadly, my first walk break was only at mile 2.5 (the horror!) and I walked on and off through the halfway mark. About mile 7-8, you start the gradual decline back into town – the only perk to the whole ‘up’ part of this race! You DO get to come back down!

Miles 9 and onward are all pretty much flat. My favorite part was running by a live-in health care center (mostly senior citizens), and tons of nurses and patients were all out, handing out waters and cheering us on. There was a little collection of three or four old men in their wheelchairs and blankets all cheering and saying things like “You go girl!” Sweetest sight ever, especially when you’re already exhausted! Thank you Brookside Healthcare Center!

I was really excited my mom was coming to cheer me on in the end, too. I texted her about the mile 10 mark, “see you in 30 minutes!” and I knew that I was finally near the end! Woooo. And as she promised, there she was cheering me on in the end. I’ve only had a few halfs where I had no one at the finish or along the course, but it certainly makes a difference knowing you have someone at the finish line! Especially someone who treats you to breakfast afterward! Thanks, mom.

All in all, a great race. Tough, but great. A 2:25 finish isn’t what I had hoped for, but given those hills, my knee, and my under-trainedness, I’m going to count that as a mostly-win!

What’s your favorite cheering station been? Any particularly funny or sweet ones?

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