This wasn’t an actual race but it was totally worthy of being added. I’ve run with the Pasadena Pacers since September. They are a great group and I jumped at the chance to represent them in an official race. I had floated around the group depending on how many miles I wanted to run any given day but 10 mile challenge was an important event for me. It would be the longest run I’ve done and a great way to measure how far I’ve come.
Before we set off coach Wende called all the 10 mi challenge people into the spotlight during our stretch. The +50 strong Pacers group cheered us and Wende told us while she wasn’t running that day (she had the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half-Marathon the next day) she would be showing up a few times along the course to cheer us along. The Half-Marathon group volunteered to set the pace for us and lead us through an awesome warm up. It was on.
I was doing this run without music since I did not know the entire route and needed to be able to hear the interval call outs. I ran by myself for the first mile, preferring to take the trail route along the Rose Bowl. I met up with the lead pack at the first hill… thankfully I had run up the hill the previous Tuesday as part of the hills training group. I knew I could take this hill. I charged up it and kept pace with the lead pack. This pack consisted of some of our best runners. I was quite thankful they were taking it easy on us. While they had the energy to talk I was just focused on getting through this.
2 Miles Down! Still feeling fine. Wende is ready with her boom-box and camera after the first hill and she cheers us on. She is the best coach I’ve had! We catch up to some runners from the Korean-American Running Team (KART) and exchange hellos. Always nice to see other groups out there. When we came up around a bend I was able to look down at the Rose Bowl. Quite a view but my fingers were beginning to feel a bit numb. It was another sunny, but cold, Pasadena morning. I focused on the long ascent ahead… Running with the lead pack is starting to take its toll as I fall back a few paces. At this point I spot JPL.
3 Miles Down! The climb continues but I am starting to feel loose. That hills training really helped me get over the mental block of steady gains. We spot Wende one last time and she reminds us we are near the turn around.
4 Miles Down! The lead pack splits off and I soon realize I am the leader now. I ask them which way to go and head off into the winding streets… yeah I totally get lost. Unfortunately, two other Pacers who were new to the group were following me. We decide to wait for the pack and I finally get a breather in. AT this point I’m feeling good enough to just run the remaining distance. A few others catch up and tell us to continue down the street and we will know when the turn around is… off we go!
4.5 Miles Down! I spot the group founder and another Pacer veteran at the turn around and… we run right past them. Only after running a few more feet did we stop to think if that was the turn around. We ask and it was. Around this point Jennifer catches up to us. I met her a few weeks ago. She is recovering from injuries but is an established marathoner. I decide to keep pace with her.
5 Miles Down! Jennifer and I talk about why we joined the group and how our training has gone. She asks me a few times if the pace is alright. While I am starting to feel tried, I knew I could keep up with the pace. The rest of the route is, literally, all downhill from here. We continue just running for the finish.
6 Miles Down! Finally having someone to talk to is a blessing. While I do spend more energy talking to her, the conversation is interesting and she is keeping track of our speed.
7 Miles Down! We spot JPL and the Rose Bowl. It has been an hour since I last saw the two… still feeling good.
8 Miles Down! Two of the Half-Marathoners run right past us. I knew they were holding back. Jennifer again asks if I am still good with the pace. My legs were starting to complain but I was not going to let that stop me from finishing strong. We run on.
9 Miles Down! We catch up the Rose Bowl loop crowd. Having to dodge walkers/strollers/bikers is no easy task on tired legs. Jennifer encourages me to continue running since we are only a mile out.
10. Miles. COMPLETED! I run towards Wende and tell her I did it! She is surprised to see us come in so soon and quickly grabs her medals and cow bell. Yes a cow bell. She is ringing the bell while announcing to the other pacers that I just completed the 10 mile challenge. I am tired but proud. I thank Jennifer for keeping me motivated and being wonderful company. I receiving a few high-fives and make my way to the food. Carbs! I need carbs! I down a few cups of apple juice and chow down on 1.5 bagels. I keep myself from eating more.
I stick around long enough to see the rest of the group finish. I am still amazed I was able to finish so quickly. I now KNOW I will finish my first half-marathon. But I try not to get ahead of myself as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Mini-Marathon is just 24 hours away.