2016 Run the Parkway Half Marathon Race Recap

The Sacramento Running Association, who host the big California International Marathon (CIM), decided to put on a new event this year.  They timed this race so that it was about 4 weeks from the CIM.  They called it a “training race” because they had a 20-miler, in addition to a half marathon distance and a 5K.  For many marathon plans, a 20 mile training run is recommended anywhere from 3-4 weeks from race day and some plans call for more than one 20-miler.  The race also benefits the American River Parkway Foundation.  Since I live near the parkway I utilize it on a weekly basis for one or even a few of my runs.  I figured that it would be good to give back to this great resource.  As I am not training for CIM, I signed up for the half marathon (they had an option to change between the half marathon and 20-mile distance for free at the packet pickup).  When I signed up for the race I flirted with the idea of bumping up to the 20-miler but with my lack of proper long distance training I stuck with the half marathon.

Packet pickup was at the usual Fleet Feet in midtown Sacramento.  I had some errands to do beforehand so couldn’t make it to packet pickup until the mid afternoon.  The store was quiet and pickup was quick.  I realized this was a very no frills race as I literally was given a bib and a shirt and that’s it.  I’m used to at least a few other things to pickup like some other race flyers and such but this was barebones.  Being the inaugural race, I wonder also if they just weren’t putting a ton into the race like some other races (the CIM has a huge race expo at the Sacramento convention center).  The other slightly odd thing about this race is that it was being held on a Saturday.  I’ve done a few Saturday races but not usually half marathon distances.  I actually liked this because it would give me Sunday to recuperate before having to go back to work on Monday.

I had my usual pre-race pizza the night before.  We got a large combo pizza from a local place called Roma II (we haven’t actually been to the original Roma but have had Roma II a few times).  We also got a side order of some meatballs (not pictured).

Roma II pizza

Then it was an early night for bed (which the wife enjoyed especially because she was feeling a bit under the weather).  I slept well and woke up early at 3:40 am.  I need some time in the mornings to get my stuff together (breakfast, bano, bano, bano).  Surprisingly this was the second straight race that I’ve slept fairly well.  Prior to these last 2, I almost always have a restless night of sleep and then get up.  I do wonder also if it has to do with the fact these last 2 were “home” races and I slept in my own bed.  Or maybe it has to do with the fact that this was half marathon #18 and I’m just getting used to it finally.  Either way I’m happy with being able to sleep before a race.

Since the start/finish of the race was at the familiar to me William Pond park and this is also where the start/finish was for the 2 half marathons I’ve done previously (American River Parkway Half Marathon), I was quite familiar with the parking situation.  After parking in the neighborhood by the park, I trekked into the park in search of the porta-potties.  They weren’t set up as well as I thought but since I arrived about 40 minutes before the start time, the lines were still short for the porta-potties.  It is quite hard to use when it is super dark outside and inside the porta-potties. People were using their cell phone flashlights as well as the better equipped who had headlamps.  The race officials understandably pushed the race start time from 7 am to 7:10 am so there was some more light on the trail.  Just prior to the start, the race people played a recording of the National Anthem – with recorded cheering and everything.  People were chuckling with the cheering that was from the recording.  And then we were off.

Immediately after the start, we crossed a long foot bridge that took us over the American River.  We’d also cross this bridge at the 13th mile just before finishing back at the starting line. img_20161105_092745

The first few miles were run in the pre-sunrise haze and fog.  It was quite beautiful and peaceful.  This section of the river trail is quite remote with the river on one side and fields on the other side.  I’m used to running in the area of the river trail that is relatively close to civilization (roads, buildings, other people).  I don’t know how comfortable I’d be running in that part of the river by myself.  But it was pretty and peaceful.





Eventually we made our way off the river trail and did a very short stint in a small neighborhood.  Essentially we went through one exit on the trail and made our way about 2 streets over and onto the entrance of another part of the trail.  At this point, the trail was not paved and was more packed dirt and gravel, with a few areas of unevenness.  Eventually we made our way east and back onto paved roads.  And then at some point we hit a turnaround and came back the way we started.  I continued with my 4 minute running, 1 minute walking at an average total pace of about 10 min/mile.  Throughout miles 4-10 I continued to feel good.  I took a GU gel around mile 6.  I picked up another gel around mile 7 and then took my 2nd gel around the 10 mile mark.


Overall I continued to feel good for the race and coasted into the finish line.  I didn’t do a crazy sprint like I often do with the last 0.1 miles.  I actually stopped a few times in the 12-13 mile range to get some good pics.




At the finish line, I picked up a banana, half a donut and had a beer.  I went with the Erdinger because the Shipyard beer was an IPA and I thought that was a bit alcohol heavy for post-race.



Final Time: 2:13:25



Today’s run and marathon changes (Big Sur!)

Today’s run and marathon changes (Big Sur!)

Before I get to the changes as in the title, I wanted to briefly discuss today’s run.  Because of the extra work days I have this month, my total number of days I can run has been shortened by a bit.  My goal today was to hit double digits (at least 10 miles) for the first time in a looooong time.  The last time I came close is when I did 9 with KP before she left.  I did 5 miles yesterday and wasn’t sure how today’s run would go.

The easiest way to get to double digits without doing multiple laps through my neighborhood was to hop onto the American River Trail and bang out the miles.  I figured I’d run along the trail to where my old apartment is located (~4-4.5 miles from my current home).  Since I knew I was doing a long run I brought my phone with me and snapped some shots.  I brought with me a Honey Stinger Honey Waffle that I had picked up at Sports Authority before they closed.  I’ve always used various gels (GUs, etc) on my long runs and thought I’d see how my body did with something you actually chew/eat.  I made my way east along the river until I hit the Watt Ave bridge, crossed to the south side and then ran around my apartment.  About halfway through the run I stopped to try the Waffle.  It had already broken into smaller pieces but was still not too bad.  I specifically stopped at Watt Ave bridge because there are 2 actual toilets and a water fountain in this location (this is also where there’s a boat ramp, today there were some geese present)

Canadian geese and some other strange looking goose

I elected not to carry water on this run and that was a big mistake.  I had a few sips of water at Watt Ave and then again at the small park/boat ramp at Howe Ave as well.  But by the time I reached mile 8, I was parched and just tired.  I could also see that my heart rate was running higher than normal for my speed (It was hovering around 160 and I was not going fast.  Normally 160 would be me pushing it and running fast).  I figured I’d post a picture of what the paved bike trail looks like.

River trail – bike and dirt path

I finished at 10.6 miles today at a very slow pace (finished in just over 2 hours). Normally at leisurely pace I should still be able to get to 10 miles by 1:45 or so.  My body was not ready to do this distance and I even walked about 3-5 times, which is very abnormal for me.  I have been contemplating implementing a run-walk method for my next marathon training plan.

American River (from Watt Ave Bridge)

Speaking of marathons, I have made some changes to my upcoming full marathon for 2017.  Originally I had signed up for the Surf City Marathon (in Huntington Beach on February 5, 2017).  I had applied to be an ambassador but didn’t get it – c’est la vie.  Now early this year when I started thinking about a marathon for 2017, I had a few in mind.  I thought about the Carlsbad Marathon (you get a run jacket as part of the swag) as well as Surf City since it is near my hometown.  But the one I really wanted to tackle was Big Sur.  Because of the popularity of this race, they went to a lottery system to gain entry.  Even though I was signed up for a full marathon already for 2017, I decided to toss my name into the lottery system for 2017 since it didn’t cost anything.  At first I thought maybe if I was accepted I would tackle 2 full marathons a few months apart (Big Sur is April 30, 2017).

Last week I received an email that I had been chosen in the lottery for First Timers & Bucket Listers.  This would be my first Big Sur Marathon and also on my bucket list of races.  I thought about it for like 2 seconds and registered for the April 30th race.  With my history of injuries (and prolonged recoveries from full marathons), I decided that I should transfer my registration for Surf City from the full marathon distance to the half marathon distance.  This was easily done through the registration web site (https://www.imathlete.com/).

I am excited about Big Sur.  A little apprehensive given the amount of elevation change.  Even though Sacramento is very flat, on today’s run I realized there are some rolling hills and various areas that have a bit of steeper hills that I can train on for next year’s marathon.  There are also places I can drive to (within an hour) that would allow me to do both trail running and hill training.  My other apprehension is the time limit (strict 6 hours) but I should hopefully be okay as long as I train properly and don’t get injured (*knocks on wood*).