I headed down to Bakersfield this morning for my 7th Bakersfield Half marathon. In 2009 and 2010 I ran both halves of their 2 Halves make a Whole Half Marathon. In 2011 they discontinued the November Half and the race in February which moved to January became the Bakersfield Half Marathon. In 2011 and 2012 I ran the Bakersfield Half. My half marathon PR was set in 2010 on the November half which is not the same course as the February half…..
In any case, I have been training very well of late, and I narrowly missed my PR last month in December, so I had high hopes for today. The only cloud hanging over me was that I have been fighting a cold all week. Yesterday, I was feeling particularly dehydrated as well. I am not sure why, perhaps my lunch was too salty (Panda), although I would think that lunch the day before should not have much effect on my race today. Oh, the other cloud hanging over the race was, an actual cloud. It was foggy driving down there and it drizzled throughout the race. It was one of those races where you can only see about 50 to 100 meters ahead of you.
Still, I programmed my virtual training buddy for a 1:30:30 half, I warmed up and I started the race with high hopes and enthusiasm. Mile 1 felt good. I ran it in 6:51 and got just a little ahead of pace. Mile 2 felt the same but it was 7:01. I felt like there was a bit of a headwind, but I don’t think there really was much of one. I missed the mile 3 split but 3 and 4 were 14:05. To PR I needed to be a little under 7 minute pace and it seemed that I was just hanging on…. already…. 7:02, 7:09 ….. now that I think about it, I know there was a wind effect. I found it much easier when I drafted others. The trick was finding someone going fast enough.
Somewhere in these miles I was caught and passed by two guys who looked like they could be my age. I got right in behind one of them and drafted him for a mile or so. We left the other guy behind. We came up behind a guy and a girl running together and he slowed. I think he was drafting them. So, I surged and got away from all of them. I caught another guy and as I tried to pass he sped up. Perfect, I drafted him on and off for a couple of miles. The problem was that he ran right down the middle of the path- no tangents. 2 or three times I took the inside and got ahead of him, but each time he caught me again.
When we turned around I did feel like the wind effect was gone. I concentrated in trying to make up some ground, but my Garmin showed my slipping farther behind. As I approached mile 8 I was feeling defeated. The Garmin showed me .14 miles behind pace after being .11 at the turnaround. I was considering backing off, but I knew David Weary was probably not too far behind so I hung in there.
Then, I passed the mile 8 sign and hit my Timex. It said 55:03! What? How did I get almost a minute ahead of a 7 minute pace? I knew if I could just run close to 7 minute miles I could PR! Woo Hoo! Run! Run! I focused harder. Mile 9 said 62:19. I’m losing ground but still ahead. Mile 10 – 69:35, Mile 11 – 76:54. I am thinking that if I can just pick it up a little for two miles…… I hear a couple of people close up behind me. But I find a little extra and pull away from them. Yeah! I sped up! No – mile 12 – 7:26 – I have fallen behind that 7 minute pace but there is only 1 to go. Dig…. Dig….. I catch young guy as we reach the dirt section. It seems forever to get to mile 13. I hit the button but do not notice it. The young guy is starting to sprint and encourages me to go with him. I give it my best shot but I have been on fumes for a LONG time now…. I come out of the woods and turn onto the grass seeing 1:33 something on the clock!? My watch says 1:34 at the finish but they list me at 133:59…
I head straight to the restroom as I have had to go for awhile now. On the way over I hear them announce David Weary’s finish. Looking back at the splits, I see that mile 7 says 5:43. The markers for miles 7 through 12 were all off. I am glad though, that they were. They gave me hope, even if is was a false hope. I could not have tried any harder than I did.
So, the race time was still up there among my best – 5th best. And I brought home a 2nd place age group award. David was 5 runners behind me, but unfortunately 2 of the intervening runners were also in our age group. I am sure it must have been the two guys I battled and pulled away from in the early miles. David was 1:35 something and fifth in our division.
The family of one of my students – the Rubles, were there as well. They have been running a lot lately and have been doing very well. The dad – Eric finished just ahead of Lance who was just ahead of me back at the YMCA turkey trot. Eric was also the first master runner at the Toys for tots. He was 2nd age group at the Jingle Bell Jog. He has also run a couple of halves in recent weeks finishing in 1:32 something at one of them. He also ran the Long Beach Marathon last October – his first marathon around 3:35. He is shooting for a BQ at LA. Eric’s wife Krysti has also been winning her age group at all the local races of late and had run a 1:44 half recently. Today, Eric hang back and ran with his son (Cade- from the Hillview team). Krysti raced it. She won her age group and PRd at 1:43.
Other HDR or AV runners in attendance included the number 3 overall finisher Ervin Velasquez. He was among a big group of Rosamond runners there with coach Caleb Schroeder. Caleb ran today just a week after PRing under 1:30 at another half. He was in that same ballpark today. He was 2nd in age group. I saw Sarah Bird there and Jen Oblinger’s husband Adam. They said they got there too late to register and just went for a run. Finally, former Hillview runner and 2 or 3 time LA Marathon finisher, Branden Eshrati went down and ran it. He was just trying to finish and came in around 2:30.
Other than the misplaced signs, the Bakersfield Track Club puts on a great race.