You think you would learn from a painful 2 years of running the Tijuana Half Marathon NOT to go back and run such a brutal course on such a tough day. But you know, what's that saying? LOVE WINS?! Hahaha- or nostalgia does. I will always have such a special place in my heart for the race that introduced me to my #1. That race completely changed my life- and I'm just a little bit grateful for it- and like to suffer through it because it's nice to remember that if it were not for that race- I wouldn't have met Tyler (or at least not in that way ;-).
So my own history with this race: I went down to Tijuana in 2014 - wrestled with whether to run it or not for several days- ultimately picked up the bib - because why not? And then was actually convinced to run it because the Tijuana Half Marathon reps there were so insanely nice. I went down- ran a PR (at the time) for a 1:37 and won prize money- and had to suffer through a 4 hour long line- standing up next to Tyler.. and the rest is history. ;-)
Last year- was right after Boston and I literally had done barely any runs. I was so in the thick of fatigue and being overtrained that this was pretty much my longest run since the Boston Marathon. I somehow managed a 1:45 (which is pretty impressive considering the course, conditions, and how much I was NOT running haha).
Going into this year's race, I really thought that I could potentially PR here. I didn't think it would give me a real read to where I was fitness-wise- just because the course is really tough (lots of hills) and the weather is rough (unless you're someone that loves running in heat and humidity and performs optimally in those circumstances ;-) It was in the 80's-90's that week and all of my runs taking place in my garage on my treadmill meant that I was really wearing myself out that week and didn't feel fresh- which is fine because it wasn't a goal race, and I was going to use the race as a training run/train through it.
We woke up wayyy early- 4:20 am - and grabbed our race stuff and headed down to the border and parked and walked across- and took a cab down to the start. We didn't leave ourselves a lot of time to warm-up (not that we needed to in that heat) but I still got a mile in.
We went to the start line- and may I please say about my Mexican compatriots- they are the absolute worst at self-seeding. THE. WORST. ;-) They are much more ambitious about goals and less realistic about where their speed is in relation to others. And for that- even though I thought I was pretty far in front- I definitely wasn't far enough in front and had to pass like a million people in the first couple miles. Note to self: stop being conservative in Mexico races self-seeding. The best is that Tyler was FOUR ROWS BACK from the start FOUR ROWS, guys. HE GOT 6TH IN THE HALF- AND FOUR ROWS OF PEOPLE THOUGHT THEY WERE FASTER THAN HIM. He tried to get in front of two women- and they wouldn't let him. He was like- I'm planning on doing a 70 minute half marathon and asked to move forward- and they said, so are we. Uh huh.
We waited for the gun to go off and I was standing there- and legit beads of sweat were just coming down and we hadn't even started. Not ideal. Gun went off- and I tried to be careful as I was weaving through groups of people- and also trying to keep myself from going out too hot. I had set 7:15 as the pace I wanted to try and hold- not really taking into account anything except that it would feel easier than my paces at Lake Miramar for tempo.
Mile 1- 7:19; Mile 2: 7:10; Mile 3: 7:16; Mile 4: 7:24
The first couple miles clicked by pretty on point- but as the sun, heat and humidity kept at me, and the hills started coming, it started to go downhill FAST. Haha. All I could think of the whole time we were miserable climbing the hills was- Tyler is going to kill me for making him come down here and do this- he must be hating me now. Haha. Luckily he is a saint and didn't get mad at me. Right around mile 7 - we hit the hardest hills and it honestly was tough to recover from that- my paces definitely fell off and I ran my slowest mile there - an 8:19 - eek.
Mile 5: 7:29; Mile 6: 7:47; Mile 7: 8:19
I somehow got my body to try and recover during the race- and pulled my paces back in the 7:50's even though I felt pretty done and over it. My legs felt fatigued, it was so hot, and I felt like I kept seeing another hill to in the distance.
Mile 8: 7:52; Mile 9: 7:50; Mile 10: 7:51
Literally thought so many times, it would be reallyyyy nice to just walk off the course- but I kept at it. I knew that I was already a long ways off of my goal- but I really focused on pushing and trying to speed up towards the end- and to try and pass some people.
The race was like a blur of pain and heat and fatigue. I tried to focus on passing girls- or at least keeping in sight any girls that passed me. I passed some different guys and several of them would cheer me on as I passed them. One guy tried to give me electrolytes as we were running- that's what I love about running down there- everyone is so nice! We hit a hill that was different from the years before and super steep at mile 11 or 12 and I looked at it- like- WHAT?! I thought it was different - but then I thought- this is so late in the race that maybe I was delirious the years before and it seems much worse now. Haha. After talking with everyone, I realized that no- it was DEFINITELY a (not so sweet) addition.
Mile 11: 7:35; Mile 12:7:48
I was just running and trying to focus on turnover and pushing and then I saw Tyler- looking like he was trying to come and run me in. Gosh. I was tired and did NOT want to run with him and be pushed. I literally just did not have the energy to say- no, not now babe- so I started pushing. He was encouraging me the whole time and looking back at me- but I literally could hear nothing he said because my music was so loud and I was just focusing on living and getting to that finish line. He kept pushing me and making me try to pass girls. I think was passed a girl or two- but there was one girl that we essentially PUSHED to the finish line because she could hear Tyler and me picking up the pace. We crossed the finish line and my thirteenth mile was my second fastest of the day with a 7:15. The last mile push was so tough and I was dying the whole time, but I'm so glad Tyler pushed me there.
Mile 13: 7:15, Mile 14 (.12 miles): 6:00 pace
Half Marathon done in 1:39
We waited to find out results and then when we did- GAH- I missed the podium by FIVE SECONDS. How does that happen?! Second year in a row I got 4th in my age group. Oh well. Happy to have ran 6 minutes faster than last year on a different/harder course and with more humidity.
We ended up waiting around ALL day to collect Tyler's prize money for winning his age group. he JUST missed the overall prize money since he came in 6th in a 1:10 - how is he SO fast?! Tijuana days after the race are the longest and hottest ever. We waited outside in tents to collect the money in a process that defies logic. Really can't complain too much about it though because if it wasn't for that long, long process 2 years ago, Tyler and I would never have had the chance to get to know each other. ;-)
We crossed the border, calling the day a win- even if it didn't feel like a win with a new PR. I'm learning to appreciate the day for what it was and to give my body credit for what it was able to accomplish on that day. I pushed hard when I could and enjoyed the chance to get run in Tijuana again.
I definitely had like a couple minutes of freakout/meltdown since I felt like my time should be different here. I had shown so much progress in my running at the 10 k earlier in the month and I didn't feel like I showed the same progress here. GUYS. Bad races can definitely get in your head. Not ideal when you're set to race your goal race three weeks later. I had to shake it off. And say that heat & humidity can definitely play a role in changing how the day goes ... and MOVE ON.
Currently, I'm on DAY THREE of not working out because I'm sick. GAH. KEEPING MY HEAD IN THE GAME AND POSITIVE THAT I'LL MAKE A QUICK RECOVERY BECAUSE>>>> LULU IS IN 10 DAYS!!!!!! ;-)