Sunday, June 08, 2008

Running the mountains of Santa Monica

Well, I ran the Valley Crest Half Marathon, a tough hilly trail race, in the Santa Monica mtns this weekend. Unfortunately, the morning fog burned off just before the 8am start and we were treated to the warm California sun, but at least that allowed us to see the beauty of the Santa Monica mtns in all directions.

Tough, tough hills. There's a reason there's no paved roads in this area! This is one of those fun, scenic races that you go and give your best effort but you know your finishing time is going to be well off your PR (unless you have a very, very soft PR).

I figured since I ran 1:30:23 for a half in the hills of Palos Verdes a few weeks ago (878' elevation gain), maybe I could run 1:35 on this course that has nearly twice the elevation gain (1,642'). I knew that'd be a tall order. Actually, I think the course eats up much more than 5 minutes off of a normal half time. I found out afterward, that the course-record holder from last year ran 1:13 (in better weather... cool & overcast) and he's a 1:04 half marathoner.

Ready for my splits? Here they are:
13.1 in 1:37:58
finish in 1:37:58
There were no mile markers. :-) You just go and run your heart out.

I can say I made a good consistent effort and paced myself well. No one passed me on the second half of the course, and I managed to pass a couple of runners in that same stretch. So unlike Palos Verdes, I didn't fade any at the end of this race. Mile 12 was brutally uphill and then the closing ¼ mile was brutally downhill to a disadvantage (having to brake and keep from sliding on the dirt).

I think I finished 19th overall. Overall, it was a great race in a great place. Glad I did it. You just gotta love races like this.