So, RAM Racing promised a revamped and polished Hot Chocolate race in San Diego. After the monster DC disaster? They had some recon to do.
Back in February we met with the RAM dudes to discuss the upcoming event. They acknowledged the “issues” they had at previous races, shared their plans, and picked our brains to ensure it was a top-notch event.
orig credit to HRM
As I mentioned before, this race ended up being the tail end of a long run for my Ragnar/Eugene training. 11.5ish miles before the start of a 15K (9.3 mi) left me a little confused on approach. Obviously not ideal racing conditions, but with the energy of a start line and many many FAST friends running, I knew it’d be unlikely I’d stick to my slow long run pace.
So instead of weighing the options or developing a strategic plan, I busied myself straightening my bib, forgetting my ipod in the car, taking pictures and pondering important life events.
Sorry, Em. I know I’m your favorite pre-race nightmare.
Not only did I toe the start line without a plan or my trusty playlist, I was also blissfully unaware of the course profile. I had heard rumors that it was “hilly” but chose to ignore/forget that bit I guess.
That convo was quickly abandoned. Out of sight out of mind? (until raceday, at least…)
Heading over to the start, conveniently located at the base of a nice little hill, should’ve probably been my reality check. Instead I focused on survival. In my head this was just part 3 of a 20 miler, not a 15k race.
sidenote : I have no idea why I was placed in corral C. Maybe I put half marathon time, not 15k time? I was def the loser slowpoke in our group since EVERYONE else was in A. Poor OUaL, all by her lonesome without her fast friends…
sidenote confession : I snuck in to the front of B. Still fought and weaved for a good mile. C probz would have been WAY fun.
So, no plan, no goals, no hill-knowledge, corral bandit. Gun! Go time!
Immediately we start climbing, and climbing, and climbing. I’m admittedly a hill-wuss, and having NO IDEA when (or if) the incline was ever going to end, I just kept my head down and tried to keep a reasonable pace and my breathing controlled.
All I can say is THANK GOD I didn’t try to even split or maintain some sort of consistent pace. Good lord how do you people in hilly places do it? I swear even the elevation change from street to sidewalk throws me off.
Running music-less was surprisingly kind of cool. I could actually hear my own thoughts, and got to eavesdrop on other peoples’! Two girls were having a major frenemy gossip-fest and if they hadn’t stopped to walk I probably would have ran with them all 9.3 miles just for the entertainment.
Just when I thought I’d cry if I saw another climb, we started the steep downhill at mile 6. Crap that hurt. Fontana maybe isn’t going to be so fun…
Brightside : hitting the final 5K came with the realization that I had gas left in the tank and was going to finish strong. Easily the best feeling of marathon training. So empowering. Let me take on the freaking world during those last few miles. Cure cancer. Solve the budget deficit. Destroy the Kardashians.
(final .3 @ 6:47 avg pace)
I remember (impressive, considering the race was almost 2 weeks ago) being SO thrilled during those final miles. Despite the injury scare, early wake up, and 11.5 mile “warm up”, I still felt strong and in control. I realized I don’t have to rely on music to get through the tough parts, I won’t die running in a cotton tank, and that maybe I’m a stronger hill runner than I thought.
Or maybe I’m just a stronger runner – period – than I thought.
So even though I was the very last of our group to cross the finish (why’d I adopt so many freaking FAST friends??), and I felt a little cheater for breaking the run up, I’m still calling this one of the most successful 20+milers in OUaL training history.
All in all, RAM Racing pulled off a pretty flawless event. From parking, to start time, to the finish area, everything ran like clockwork. The course was deceptively hilly – not that they said it wasn’t, but there wasn’t much in writing about it being challenging. No points taken off, just an FYI note. Unless I really am just that much of a hill-wuss. The jackets they passed out in stead of shirts/medals are nice but nothing super special. I didn’t have any of the chocolate, but heard it was good. DC redemption : definitely in progress.