It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or so the radio stations in every store I enter tell me. So why not finish 2016 with one more PR? Sunday brought just that, as I set a new PR at the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon. It wasn’t expected, which is the best kind of personal record.
I went into Sunday’s San Diego Holiday Half Marathon with the outside idea that I could try to record a new half marathon PR. All I needed to top was my 1:26 38 from the 2015 Logjammer Half Marathon in Shreveport.
I needed to average faster than a 6:37-per-mile pace to hit a new PR. With a downhill, point-to-point course, I was optimistic. I didn’t, however, think I would score a four-minute PR. But that’s exactly what happened. The chip time Sunday put me at 1:22:38 for my new PR.
For the first three miles, I was trying to warm up and settle into a rhythm. The San Diego Holiday Half Marathon starts inland at I-15 and Carmel Mountain Rd. It runs down to the 56, joins the bike path, and drops mile after mile until it ends at the Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines State Park.
I also had a home-field advantage. Since Fleet Feet San Diego is located less than a mile off the 56 bike path, I run along the route often. Normally I don’t get to coast just one way, like I did Sunday, though.
In miles 3-6, I settled into as good a rhythm as possible. With the elevation drop, accompanied by a few small uphills, I never felt like I had my legs under my body. I had to speed up my cadence to keep from overreaching. As I tumbled downward, I had a sense of frailty. I was holding on as long as possible. I knew I was keeping a solid pace (6:32, 6:13, 6:28, 6:07, 617, 6:22, 6:32) mile after mile. But after those first seven, I had an impending sense of doom.
While I felt like my wheels were going to fall off at any moment, it never happened. Miles 8, 9, and 10 clicked off easily. 6:22. 6:14, and 6:16. I blinked, and I checked to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. I was well ahead of pace, and I didn’t feel like I was falling apart as expected at all.
The final 5K arrived, and I set a simple goal: hold on to 6:30 pace, knowing that would equal a solid PR. But I didn’t just hold pace. I picked it up.
Mile 11 was my fastest yet at 6:05, even though the course had flattened out. At that point, all I could think about was shattering my previous PR. So I dug deep and hung on through mile 12, which featured a sharp turn, an out-and-back, and a gradual hill. I flew through that mile in 6:09. That’s when I knew I was having a special day.
As my watched beeped to let me know I had a single mile left, I had a fleeting thought. “I should try to run the final mile under 6 minutes.” That notion flashed through my brain and exited immediately.
But I couldn’t shake it.
Sub 6. Sub 6.
I developed a side stitch. It didn’t matter. I pushed through. Sub 6, sub 6, sub 6.
I could finally see the ocean. Less than a quarter mile left. Sub 6, sub 6.
I ran my final mile in 5:56. No matter how hard I pushed (on a slight uphill then a flat to the finish), I couldn’t get faster than that on the final mile. But I didn’t care. Mile No. 13 was my fastest of the day. My final 5K split was also the fastest. I set a new 10K PR (which I won’t officially accept) on my way to a new half marathon PR.
And I finished with the ocean right in front of me. Cheers to the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon.
It was a good day.