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Virtual Racing



Well, I told Dave I would do the Half, so I had to do it. My plan was to choose my flattest course - out and back at the beach - and see how close I could get to Atlanta's hilly 1:46:59 from 4 weeks ago. But then they shut the beaches down, including the walk and bike paths, so that was out. I didn't really want to do a virtual race in roads with all the stoplights and stuff. So the best option was to go up to Palos Verdes, where there are no stoplights and not many cars. Nice beautiful roads with sweeping ocean views. And lots of hills. :( I thought about switching to a 5K or 10K. But I wasn't feeling the speed lately, and I really needed the miles. So I stuck with it and committed to the hilly course. Dave posted a 1:52 time, or 8:35 pace, so I thought that looked like a pretty good goal to shoot for. I would try to average 8:30s with the downhills balancing the uphills. 

The day was sunny and cool, but warming up. Stupidly I dawdled and did not get started until almost 10:00AM. Temps were low 60s by the time I finished, which was pretty hot given all the sunshine. I carried no water or fuel. There was only one water fountain at the turnaround. I parked at the base of the hill, which is normally jammed with runners and bikers on weekend mornings. It was about 1/3 full with a few people hanging around and practicing social distancing. So, without any warmup, off I went.

Mile 1 starts with 1/2 mile flat and down to get warmed up, and then a 200 foot hill for 3/4 mile. I ran comfortably and started up feeling OK. Treating it like a regular weekend long run for now. 9:06

In mile 2 I crested the first hill without dying too much and started a nice long downhill section. Lots of people were out walking and jogging, but in a good way. Parking lots near the coast were closed but people just parked in the streets. They were well spread out though. 8:31 and 8:06 for 2-3 had me near an 8:30 average and feeling like my plan was good.

Miles 4-5 were 8:29 and 8:26 despite including a big hill. But I was feeling pretty tired. But it was a race, right, so about normal. Mile 6 was supposed to be a nice flattish trail along the coast, but I was surprised to see it closed as well. So that meant I had to add ANOTHER big hill, both ways. Did not improve my mood! My energy was flagging. 8:38 up and over that bastard. Now I looked forward to a drink at the turnaround. After another hill. Then I added a little bit extra to be sure I had enough mileage before stopping at a restroom for water and a pee. Yes, I stopped my watch for 2 and a half minutes, but I figured if it was a real race I would have drank on the run and skipped the bathroom. It was my only chance for water so I drank a lot. Caught my breath and headed back. Mile 7 was 8:27. That put me at 8:32 pace through 7. Right on track.

But then it all went to hell. Another big hill had me hating life and gasping for air and feeling the legs get heavy. The nice downhill did not help as it should have and 8 was 8:45. Mile 9 started flat and I still couldn't get the pace down and I started wanting to quit. So, just like a real race! Then the steepest hill of the day approached - one that I often resort to walking up. I had no energy left so I accepted my fate and walked up it. I may not have been able to go any faster running anyway. Mile 9 was 10:16 and I knew I was not going to catch Dave. :( 

Mile ten was all downhill, but I was on survival legs and could only manage 8:21, and even then I really wanted to quit. I started re-evaluating goals. Certainly I could still do sub-two. Keep my average under 9:00. Let's see, that would be about 1:58. Did some math...Yeah, no problem. But you have to run. Mostly. At ten, I took another walk break even though it wasn't a hill. I just needed to catch my breath. Galloway became my new coach. 11-12 promised almost all uphill, but then 13 would be down, so I focused on just getting through 12. I did what my lungs allowed. I took two more short walk breaks, and got through 11-12 in 9:51 and 9:59. I was going to break 1:58 at least.

The last downhill was nice. Pace dropped in to the 7's as gravity was my friend. A little uphill for the last 0.4 was not fun but I tried to keep up the best I could and finished gasping for air. 13 was 8:17 and I got to 13.1 in 1:56:03. 8:51 pace. The total elevation gain was 1,001 feet. A bit more than "hilly" Atlanta's 736.

I was pretty wiped out and dehydrated and hungry, but happy with my effort. "Race-like" I'll call it. Good to have a challenge. But I think I'll be doing the 5K next month.

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If nothing else, this virtual race series has really shown how much influence that Dave has over The Loop.  :-)  That's some elevation!

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Good work on that run.  That is a lot of elevation, and very tough to do, 4 weeks after Atlanta.


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