Pacific Half Marathon – Great Race of Agoura

Today was my 3rd run at the Pacific Half Marathon in Agoura. My previous two runs were in 2010 and 2012 as training runs for the Boston Marathon. Both times I did 6 or 7 mile “warm up” runs before doing the race. In 2010 my time was sub 140, but I accidentally cut the course running only 12.9 miles in 1:37:51 for a 7:35 pace.  In 2012 I ran the whole course in 1:43:01 for a 7:52 pace.

Starting the race today, I figured I would be ecstatic if I could maintain an 8:00 pace. I am 10 pounds heavier and 5 to 7 years older than when I did those two previous efforts. The only comparable effort would be last year’s Wings for Life Run where I averaged an 8:09 pace for 26.6K (16.5 miles)

Before the race, on Facebook, Grant Barnett had mentioned plans to be the race’s 1:50 pacer. I figured a good strategy would be to stay with the pace group till the top of the big climb at mile 3.5 and then see if I could get ahead thereafter. Grant ended up switching to the Cheseborough Half so I would be on my own.

When I arrived at Paramount Ranch – the race start location – I found Krysti Ruble and Dora Guttierrez already there. As time went by Cindy Hendrix and one of our new runners Laura Cox, was there as well. Krysti has run very well of late, almost catching me at the Nutty Runners, so secretly I was worried about her…

Anyway, I tried to stay warm as we waited for the race. The thermometer on my truck said 38!

20170401_072509You can see the ladies were much better prepared for the cold than I was….

The race began and I settled in between the 1:40 and 1:50 pace groups. The course is always rolling up or down. I tried to not push too hard working my way to and up the BIG hill at mile 3. The brown line is the elevation profile of the course.

Going up the hill I was passed by about half a dozen other runners – almost all young women.  As I got close to the top, the 1:50 pace group caught me. This surprised me as I thought I was still ahead of that pace. Going over the top I accelerated and let gravity do its thing. Just as I had planned with Grant, I pulled away from the pace group. Going up the next grade I could hear them behind me not too far and someone asked the leader about his pace. He explained that he was getting ahead because of the upcoming climb in the second half. Eventually, I quit hearing them. I did not focus on my watch too often for splits, but everytime I did, I noticed that I was always within a minute of an 8 min/mile pace… I’d lose a little on a steep section and gain on it when the course was more favorable. Below are my half mile splits.

As you can see in the profile, before you get to mile 8 you get to a low point on the course, then you begin to climb. The downhills break up the climb so it is not as bad as one continuous climb.  As these miles rolled by I found myself gaining on a couple of the young ladies who had passed me. I finally caught one on the climb after mile 10. I caught a guy around 11 and caught the other girl about mile 12. In the last mile there were a few others who seemed to have gone out to fast and were “dying” – moving very slowly toward the finish. The course continues uphill until after 12.5 miles and then rewards you with a nice downhill finish. At this point, the Cheseborough (Trail) half, and the 10K are all merging together so it is hard to tell who is doing what race.

Thanks to Yeni Estrada for the pic and for cheering me on to the finish..

My official time was 1:45:25. I finished 41st out of 621 runners and 1st place in my new 55-59 age division!! I can’t wait to see what they send me for my award!!

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